Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first family cruise. Myself, hubby and two boys 7 and 4. Embarkation seemed to run fairly smoothly. Our room was an Ocean Balcony room, level 8, I thought our room was nice, our room steward was lovely and made a towel ... Read More
This was our first family cruise. Myself, hubby and two boys 7 and 4. Embarkation seemed to run fairly smoothly. Our room was an Ocean Balcony room, level 8, I thought our room was nice, our room steward was lovely and made a towel creature each night, a nice touch. The meals at the buffet I found to be average, there is something there for everyone so no one can complain about that but the quality of it, look nothing to write home about, it was of a lesser quality than I was expecting. People just amaze me too lining up for their food, you would think they had never had a feed in their lives and the food wastage left on plates could feed a small nation. The empire room dining at night, meals were a bit hit or miss, some good some not so good. If you get the opportunity to dine in the Nouveau Restaurant please do so, the food is sensational, steak and seafood to die for and the desserts were beautiful worth the extra $40 PP. Kids club..ok so we thought this was a little bit of a cop out your sold the idea that you can leave your kids a fair whack of time to have some time to yourselves, NO, the times are staggered, no sooner have you dropped the kids off than you feel like your picking them up again, closed for 2 hours for lunch. After lunch some days a parent had to be present for some of the activities. The staff in there, well there were some that were great with the kids and some that should be off the boat doing a different job, they just weren't interested. The islands were amazing, the Isle of Pines was my favourite, pristine and beautiful you must take a swim at the beach, the locals were quite friendly too. Mare also lovely but a bit poorer island you can see the cruise ships are their bread and butter in a lot of ways. Noumea was lovely too. My advice book your shore excursions on the boat yes it may be a little extra but guarantees you a seat, I saw a few people come off second best thinking they could just throw a few bucks the tour operators way and get on the tours, most of them said No you have to go back on the boat and get tickets, not a good spot to be in time wasting buying tickets that you could have bought earlier. The evening shows were great. They done a 30s dancing show, the dancing and costumes and singing were great. The also had a magician from L.A. she was very good. One of the biggest issues we found on the boat was the lack of supervision some parents had over their kids, you would see young kids of 7-8 just wandering round the boat on their own, up and down lifts, running through the boat. That was a joke, your out on a huge ship in the middle of the ocean watch your kids!! The pools were over crowded sometimes and it was a bit of a "cesspit" as my hubby said, he reckons he has seen enough fat tattooed women to last a life time..lol...Glad we done but am I in a hurry to go on another cruise? No not really in a few years maybe but I would go with another Cruise company. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Having not being on a cruise before my husband and I were using this 3 night cruise at sea as a test to see if we liked it and to see if I could go three nights without being seasick. It was also my 40th birthday so I was doing this ... Read More
Having not being on a cruise before my husband and I were using this 3 night cruise at sea as a test to see if we liked it and to see if I could go three nights without being seasick. It was also my 40th birthday so I was doing this instead of a party. Well it was the best 'party' I've ever been to! From the minute we arrived at the port our bags were taken by friendly assistants well before our boarding time. We then went to a pub in the Rocks for a couple of drinks and took photos of the ship. Boarding at our designated time was quick and easy. We made it as far as the main foyer and were just so amazed by the decor that we had to sit down for another drink. To my surprise the whole ship was just as amazing and the cleaners were meticulous throughout the whole time away. The staff were friendly and my husband commented on what excellent eye contact they make. Only one negative was they didn't put enough staff on at bars when they had advertised an activity. I felt very sorry for the one person they had on trying to cater to so many people. We had a balcony cabin and were delighted when we first walked in to see the Opera House just there! The cabin was a perfect size. The only downside was there was no tea and coffee making facilities in the room. We didn't have kids with us but there were quite a few kids on board. I had heard bad reviews about kids running riot around the ship but I didn't experience that. There were a few rowdy kids but it was easy to get away from them. The adults only serenity deck was not serene. It was full of adults who were actually rowdier than the kids so we went back to the family area. It was easy to find somewhere which was serene. The entertainment was great. Excellent variety and a good standard... not as good as Vegas but it was still very entertaining. We went to two comedy shows, one Illusionist show and a New Orleans variety show. Disembarking was easy and painless. In summary the cruise exceeded my expectations by far. I thought it was going to be a floating RSL but it wasn't. It was classy but not pretentious. I will definately be going on another cruise in the future. I can't recommend it highly enough. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Ship info This was my first time cruising in 26 years and I was a bit nervous considering some of the reviews. I decided though that the people who wrote the reviews would have been amongst the 10 per cent on our ship who just aren't ... Read More
Ship info This was my first time cruising in 26 years and I was a bit nervous considering some of the reviews. I decided though that the people who wrote the reviews would have been amongst the 10 per cent on our ship who just aren't happy with most things no matter how great they are. The ship is huge. It takes a few days to find your way around. It has several bars, swimming pools and eating options. It is a bit gaudy but that is what I loved about . By gaudy I mean lots of Grecian style murals, gold fittings and statues in the open area. I thought it provided character though. Activities and entertainment There was so much to do, I didn't fit it all in. Being a South Pacific cruise with a fair way to travel between ports we had 6 sea days on a 12 night cruise wich became 7 as we couldn't visit one of our ports due to rough weather. In the mornings there was always a talk by stu the cruise director in the major entertainment precinct Pharoahs Palace. Simultaneously you would find trivia, guess that sonf, guess that musical, wine and food matching or cocktail tasting, making or competitions. On warm days I preferred to lie in the sun on Serenity Deck (over 18 area). I always managed to get a Deckchair or Pod so not sure what all the complaints were about regarding this. I also braved the water slides despite being over 50 (I had to try) at least once. They were loads of fun and open almost all the time except for very windy days. We also played Bingo in the afternoon occasionally, high tea on sea days occasionally and assorted other things. The evening shows were amazing especially Will Martin the New Zealand singer who appeared for the first time on our cruise, the hypnotist and the comedy shows and magician relally can't keep going on in short though if you get bored its your own fault. Service I couldn't fault any staff from the room attendants, the bar attendants, restaurant staff, cruise director, guest services. All were so friendly and eager to help . Our room steward was so friendly and it was great to come back each night to lovely little towel animals tidy rooms beds turned down and chocolates. Well done Carnival Spirit your staff are fantastic . Desi the Maitre D in the Empire Room was a beautiful person as well as the sommeliere in the Nouveau Restaurant unfortunately I don't remember her name but she gave a wonderful presentation in the Nouveau Restaurant about wine and food matching (small charge) despite a couple of extremely rude participants who had paid to participate but wouldn't shut up the wole time (thankfully not Australians on this occasion) I was embarrassed enough about the behaviour of some of my fellow Australians on this ship and the way they treated staff. Port and shore excursions Plenty of variety, reasonably priced. If you go to Noumea or Isle of Pines I would recommend doing one through the ship . Amedee island for Noumea was well worth the cost and some of our travelling companions did one on isle of pines where they got to swim with Turtles. At Suva you can get one on the wharf for half the cost but make sure it is not too long as the ship won't wait if you do your own tour. We went on a 3 hour village, sites and waterfall tour for half the price of the ships one. There was till plenty of time for shopping when we got back to Suva. Tendering at port denarau was a bit of a hassle so be patient at this port because it is worth it, Stateroom We had a balcony stateroom on level 5 . It was adequate for the price we paid. Plenty of storage and the beds are comfy. We shared with our 16 y old daughter. It was comfortable. Kids club Our daughter didn't participate in kids club although I spoke to other parents in the restaurant with younger children and they raved about it. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth. The tender ports are a bit of a hassle especially poet denarau in Fiji but worth the trouble . Port denarau Suva and isle of pines were my favourite ports. Dining So many choices the food was amazing I would recommend Any time dining and dining in the Empire dining room when u can because the food was beautiful and the service very attentive. I felt like I was dining in a four star restaurant every night. We dined in the Nouveau Restaurant on two occasions and I would recommend this it is well worth the $35 cover charge. There is also more casual dining with many options available on Deck 9.summary Your cruise is what you make of it. I embraced it and had a wonderful twelve nights aboard. We couldn't visit one Port Mystery island due to bad weather. This wasn't the lines fault as they had safety of the passengers at heart on our cruise there was a wide range of guests from the very young to the very elderly. I had a wonderful time and would cruise again perhaps on less spread our routes such as the mediterranean. There was a few people on board who complained a lot but that's life . There might be some things you don't like but if so just go somewhere else or sulk in your cabin . I came back feeling more relaxed than any other holiday I have taken. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
Experienced cruisers are often hard to impress but we were impressed with the Carnival Spirit. My husband and I had cruised before but this was our first cruise with our 2 year old daughter. THE SHIP OVERALL - I liked the decor, very ... Read More
Experienced cruisers are often hard to impress but we were impressed with the Carnival Spirit. My husband and I had cruised before but this was our first cruise with our 2 year old daughter. THE SHIP OVERALL - I liked the decor, very 'Las Veags' but hey, that's cruising with Carnival for you! The theatre and dining rooms were lovely and the ship was large enough that I never felt overcrowded with fellow passengers. I loved the Punchline Comedy Lounge a very nice touch to have on board and the comedians were very good, a couple being quite famous already in Australia so I enjoyed seeing them. THE POOLS - One pool/spa was under a permanently retracted glass ceiling so it was nice on the sunny days, the other pool/spa was kept under a permanently closed glass ceiling which was perfect for the cooler/windy days. But I LOVED the adults only Serenity Deck. The deckchairs were padded and if you were lucky enough you could get a hammock or a pod. The bar staff were extremely attentive and friendly. The music was always relaxing both in tone and volume and I loved that the pool temperature changed according to the outside temperature, on one cold windy day it was heated to almost the same temperature as the spa, a very nice touch which I really appreciated. THE DINING ROOM FOOD - The food and service in the dining room was 5 star all the way. The food was varied and always of excellent quality. I appreciated the waiter's nightly menu recommendations highlighting the best food to try each evening. The staff were so incredibly accommodating to our 2 year old, always having a highchair and crayons/paper ready for her when we arrived, giving her little presents (like some beaded necklaces which she adored) and generally speaking to her, high fiving her, mucking around with her etc which made her feel very special. The waiters' dancing and singing was fantastic - there are some very talented waitstaff out there especially the Filipino waiter who sang "Working Class Man" better than Jimmy Barnes himself! THE BUFFET FOOD - I am not a huge buffet fan but would describe the Lido Buffet as fair to average. There was not a huge selection but I did like the daily chef's choice section. One day it was Italian, then French, then Caribbean, then Mexican etc the menu items were always interesting and rather gourmet. The Asian section 'Chopsticks' was probably the food of poorest quality/taste. The desserts were consistently good and the 24hr pizza is wonderful - thin crust, very authentic Italian. THE SPECIALTY DINING - I did not like the Nouveau Steakhouse at all I thought it was a complete waste of money. My steak was ridiculously overcooked. The service was lacklustre. My husband however enjoyed his meal very much so maybe I was just unlucky. But in my opinion, don't bother with Nouveau when the dining room food is so good. The Fillet Mignon I had in the dining room was a million times better than the steak I had at Nouveau. I loved eating at Jimmy's C-Side BBQ but my one complaint was that they only opened it up on sea days which is ridiculous because it is on the open deck 10 and on sea days it was always too windy to sit up there and eat it. I thought I was going to be blown away just waiting in line! THE 'AUSSIFICATION' OF THE SHIP - I like that the powerpoints are Aussie ones and that prices onbord are in Aussie dollars but I don't see any reason why they even needed to Aussify the ship! It would be so much more fun to board an American cruiseline in Australia and feel like you have walked in to the USA without having to fly 15 hours to get there! My husband did however appreciate that you can have Aussie style coffee as he doesn't like American style filter coffee. It was amusing however to see Carnival re-name their Lemondade (ie old fashioned lemonade/cordial) 'Lemon Squash'! Ahhhh Carnival, maybe you should have checked with an Aussie on that one, Lemon Squash to us is something quite different! They have also kept the American 'Ice Tea' which I never saw a single person drinking on the entire cruise again, not something your average Aussie drinks. CAMP CARNIVAL - We used only the section for ages 2-5 years as our daughter is 2. The services provided by them were good but I think Camp Carnival primarily exists for parents wanting to leave their children at night and whilst on shore/in port. Reason being is that outside of the aforementioned times, Camp Carnival is only open for limited periods. Whilst it is open for the entire time that a ship in in port, on a sea day it is only open as follows: from 9am to 11:45am, then closed from 12 to 2pm, then reopens from 2pm to 3:45pm (or sometimes 4:45pm), then closed from 3:45pm/4:45pm until 5:30pm for 'prepare for dinner', then dinner is served for the kids from 6:30pm in the Lido Buffet, the Camp then remains open continuously until 3am. We didn't leave our daughter at Camp at night or whilst in port, so for us, she attended Camp from 9am to 11:45pm but then would nap in the afternoon but by the time she awoke and would liked to have gone back to Camp ie around 3pm they were about to close! I still to this day don't understand why the Camp needs to be closed from 3:45 to 5:30pm to 'prepare for dinner' its not like they are cooking the dinner themselves or even eating it at Camp! But having said that, the staff were very good and the toys new and plentiful, they do however seem to sit the kids in front of the TV for a great deal of time which some parents may not like. I also really like that they gave us a free cell phone to use for the duration of the cruise to check up on our daughter throughout the day. NB whilst the Camp is 'in session' parents cannot be present in the room with the children, you need to just drop them off and leave and they are very strict about not letting parents enter the Camp while other children are playing in there. THE CABIN - We had a balcony cabin category 8A and it was nice, not overly roomy but you can't expect it to be given you are aboard a ship. The balcony was nice and very private. They provided a cot for a daughter to sleep in which did make the room a little more squishy but it was fine. The bathroom was a little disappointing, very bland with no decor and NO toiletries which was a surprise as other cruises have had a basket of various free toiletries. There was only some generic soap and 2 pumps in the shower, one of body wash and the other of shampoo. Our cabin was on Deck 4 almost at the very back of the ship and it was very quiet. THE ENTERTAINMENT - This was ok but not great. I enjoyed the Carnival Spirit dancers and singers and my daughter loved them. I thought most of the guest entertainers were boring. I walked out on the Magician who was simply terrible. I enjoyed the Juggler from Christchurch NZ. The show times were constantly changing however which was annoying when you have young children who need to get to bed. I really appreciated the 6:30pm shows as we could have dinner at 5:30pm and be at the show by 6:30pm but the 9pm or 10pm shows were simply too late for us as our daughter wouldn't be able to stay up so late. With Carnival being a family friendly cruise line they really need to think about having a nightly show at 6:30pm I know many parents would be grateful. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Transfer to port from hotel/ airport: I strongly suggest you take Seattle Express shuttle service from your hotel to cruise port. Seattle Express is cost $12 per trip which is much cheaper compare to cruise shuttle service. Their website ... Read More
Transfer to port from hotel/ airport: I strongly suggest you take Seattle Express shuttle service from your hotel to cruise port. Seattle Express is cost $12 per trip which is much cheaper compare to cruise shuttle service. Their website is http://www.seattleexpress.com/. You also can take this service from port to airport. Cruise Cabin: Cabin in middle of ship is more convenience compare to cabin located in back or front ship. Middle of ship is near to Autrium which is more convenience to access to restaurant, lounges, disco, casino..... Food in cruise considered very good. There have buffet, restaurant, 24 hours room service, and some food also available 24 hours. Only steakhouse restaurant, you need to pay $30 per pax. For beverage, if you are interest to soda, you can buy soda card which is $6++ per day, unlimited. Their plain water, hot drinks all are free. Carnival Camp: Carnival Camp is a childcare service which are available in cruise. This is the only concern I feel no comfortable. Their childcare are not welcome baby who are under age 2. They are even not allowed baby who are under age two to use their childcare facilities. They allow a very limited of time for baby and parents to use their childcare facilities. When we were going to excursion, I handed my infant who are age 18 months in childcare. Carnival Camp's staffs seems very uncomfortable to my baby behaviour because she keep crying. One of staff even look fierce and she seems very unwilling to take care of her. Baby are unfamiliar to new environment and staffs, Carnival Camp staff should use their love and passion to comfort baby, such parents are able to go excursion. Staffs in Carnival Camp didn't try their best to comfort baby, they just want push back baby to parents. Juneau: If you only intend to visit Mendenhall Glacier and Visitor Center in Juneau, you no need to book excursion from cruise or any private tour. From cruise port, walking distance take about 5 minutes time, you can get a booth name MGT's Blue Glacier Express service. MGT website is http://mightygreattrips.com/. You can buy your ticket online as well. Round trip from cruise port/ dwontown to Mendenhall Glacier is just cost $16.00, 14 miles. Transportation run every 30 minutes. I also suggest you visit Mendenhall Glacier in early morning. Mendenhall Glacier is face to east, morning sun will made Glacier look very beautiful. You probably need 1.5 - 2.5 hours to visit glacier and visitor centre. Ketchikan: If you don't wish spent too much money on tour and excursion, you no need to buy any tours. Ketchikan has two area, downtown and new town. You can get a map of downtown, walk just need spent about 2.5 hours to see whole downtown. There is nothing in new town to see. Skagway: Skagway is just resemble a cowboy town you watch in film. There is a lot of shop in Skagway compare to Juneau and Ketchikan. There is a famous train depart from cruise port to WhitePass and Yukon. The round trip ticket is about $170+-, approximately time is 3 hours. I didn't take this train because price is too expensive. You can get some tours to go up summit by car/ van/ bus which price are much cheaper. Victoria: We arrived Victoria as our last port. There have many public transport service send you from port to Victoria downtown. It probably take 15 minutes time from cruise port to downtown. I suggest you take CVS bus service which cost USD/ CAD7.50 for round trip. Victoria is a pretty city, you can visit parliament building, harbour, Fairmont Express Hotel...... As cruise arrived Victoria already 7.30pm, most of the visitors place have closed. 2-3 hours should be enough to see all downtown. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to go Butcher Garden and palace. 80% of passengers in cruise are senior, their age is around 45 to 80. Obviously, Alaska Cruise didn't attract much young people. This is because the price of Alaska Cruise is more expensive if compare to Carribean or Mexico Cruise. Additionally, children who are under age 2 absolutely no interest to see glacier, to visit an old and quiet town in Alaska. If you are really choose Alaska Cruise, go in May to July will be the best timing. Otherwise, weather in August and September might be cool and turn to raining season. You may miss the chance to see glacier in Tracy Arm. Conclusion, Alaska is suitable to couple without children. Romantic couple who prefer to see glacier. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Our cruise on the carnival Spirit was great, it took awhile to figure if we liked the design , very unusual,but it grew on us, the food was probably the best we have had to date,the staff were wonderful,and the entertainment was ... Read More
Our cruise on the carnival Spirit was great, it took awhile to figure if we liked the design , very unusual,but it grew on us, the food was probably the best we have had to date,the staff were wonderful,and the entertainment was superb.Boarding the boat was horrendous, it would seem they had no idea, like wise the dining arrangements completely disorganised the first meal had a cue stretching way back into the ship, this lasted for a few days and finally got sorted.Like most ships little effort was put into the cleanliness of the Passengers, thou there were many dispenser's of disinfectant little was done to encourage people to actually use them, unlike the following cruise we picked up in Vancouver The Norwegian Perl, there were staff waiting @ all the Dinning rooms spraying peoples hands no one entered with out the spray, wonderful to see,but then the food was very ordinary on the NCL pearl, cant have it always I suppose.When you firs board the ship, you almost expect Harrison ford to leap over the top balcony dressed in the garb of Raiders of the lost Ark, as I said at the start very strange decor.After the cruise up to Alaska we flew down to Long beach to pick up the carnival Splendor to Mexico, once again , the cleanliness left a lot to be desired ,this time the food was the opposite lousy many people got food poisoning as did My wife and I, so we missed the chance of getting of the ship ,and spent most of the time in our cabin.the Turbs The Carnival splendor we were told will cease visiting Mexico and next year will be repositioning down here to Australia, I just hope for there sake that they pick there game up when they do,What is in there favor , is the , Staff all very nice the Atmosphere after the evening meal when each night they would dance and sing right around restaurant, and the cabin steward also need a mention, such lovely hard working people, Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We had sailed on Princess before and were wondering how Carnival would be, especially during a traditional spring break week. We had an absolutely great time and we all found the service to be impeccable, the cabins well-appointed, the ... Read More
We had sailed on Princess before and were wondering how Carnival would be, especially during a traditional spring break week. We had an absolutely great time and we all found the service to be impeccable, the cabins well-appointed, the food great, and the entertainment fun. We cruised with my dad and his wife (60s), myself and my boyfriend (45 and 62), another couple (70 and 60) and my daughter and her friend (both 17, in a next-door cabin). My dad has been on over 7 cruises and our friends on 2 others, but all of us found this cruise to be the most fun with the very best service. We had absolutely no problems with the ship being clean--the buffet area was busy all the time and we were amazed at how quickly dishes were removed. We had no problems with waiting long in line, either. If you're easily annoyed by kids--don't cruise spring break--or take a cruise on Seaborne or Silversea. That said, the kids were easily avoided by using the adult (aft) pool. Yes, you could find them around the ship, but they were never an annoyance for us. Our 17 year olds loved the fact that there were other 17-20 year olds on the ship, and they had fun with that group. The service was outstanding. My dad and his wife had a damp spot in their carpet which was not that big of a deal, but they received some ship credit, two "check up" phone calls, and preferential debarkation for their "trouble", which wasn't trouble at all. Our server was "Ickie" with "Jerry" as his helper, and Suresh as the cocktail server. All went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and they added to our fun. When we ordered coffee room service in the morning, it came within 10 minutes each time! We go to Las Vegas a lot, so we are used to that level of entertainment. Of course the ship's show's weren't at that level, but it was still entertaining and good fun. Besides, if you didn't want the main show, you could easily do something else--piano bar, comedians, karaoke, whatever you wanted. There were some great karaoke singers, plus some hilariously bad ones (Bohemian Rapsody guy had us laughing so hard we were crying)... I mean really, it's karaoke, have a sense of humor! Overall, my dad characterized this cruise as "one of his top two" and he was one who was actually worried about what the Carnival experience would be like. We would recommend this cruise and Carnival to anyone, especially since Carnival is traditionally less expensive than some other cruise lines. As a sidenote, my best friend was on the 7-day Splendor Mexican cruise at the same time and her assessment of Carnival is exactly the same as mine--super fun, great service. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
This was our 4th cruise with Carnival, all on different ships but this was the second on the Spirit Class. Got to San Diego 2 days early, as we were coming from Alaska and you have to plan for possible flight delays and/or ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Carnival, all on different ships but this was the second on the Spirit Class. Got to San Diego 2 days early, as we were coming from Alaska and you have to plan for possible flight delays and/or cancellations. Stayed at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. Hotel is a little old, but location makes up for anything. Right across the street from the cruise terminal, close walking distance to museums, nightlife, eateries, etc... Highly recommend if you are cruising out of San Diego that you stay at this hotel. Embarkation seemed confused and disorganized. You would think it was their first time. Hundreds of people waiting for the call to head to the ship, but only enough chairs out for about 1/3rd of them was the most glaring issue. But all in all not bad, was on the ship within a couple hours. Our cabin steward was George and I can not say enough good things about him. He was fantastic. I believe he had a camera on our door, as every time we left the cabin and came back it was cleaned and a towel critter was living in there. Went to the Empire dining room for dinner the first night. We were with a group of 20 that was split between 2 tables. The table I was not at had fairly decent service from what I was told. But the table I was at was another story. Most of the dining room was ordering desert before we received our entrees. They had sat on the bussers table for more than 20 minutes and then served to us cold. Had to chase down servers to get water refills, extra bread or anything else. I decided there was no way I would return to the dining room for the rest of the cruise. My wife talked me into returning 2 days later just to get the same quality of service. After that the buffet was the only way to go. Went to the Noveau Steak House on the last sea day. Well worth the trip. Service is exemplary, food is fantastic, and the atmosphere and view are great. The only problem is you have to walk out. So much food I wanted to take a nap right there. Ports of call were Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. PV is a great town with lots to do. Everyone returning to the ship seemed to have a good time. We did the pirate adventure this trip and had a blast. We have been to Mazatlan several times and always enjoy it. We head straight over to the beach in the Golden Zone and stage from there. Shopping, jet skiing, parasailing, or just hanging on the beach. La Paz, well I was not too impressed. A 30 minute bus or taxi ride into town from the port. Seems this town is up and coming, but just not there yet. Prices are inflated, service is below average, not much to do but roam the town. And we ended up with two days in Cabo San Lucas. This is a big town, with everything from your bargain basement street vendors to high end luxury stores. The port area is so busy we have a good time just hanging out and people watching. Disembarkation was a little slow, but what do you expect trying to get 2000 people off through one door. Once they found all the non-US people to clear immigration it seemed to move pretty good. We were in the last group and were off the ship by 11. I will echo some common concerns about Carnival cruises. The games and entertainment on the pool deck during the days are old and boorish. The hairy chest was popular 20 years ago, can't they find someone with some imagination to help the cruise directors improve in this area? The alternate dining options open hours are too limited. A couple more hours a day for the sushi and other food venues would be a definite positive. Overall a great cruise and I am already planning my next Carnival trip, on a larger ship this time though. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Getting on the ship was fast and easy especially since we were VIP. Our cabin was nice and clean. Our Steward Sitti was nice and friendly and always said hi when in the hall. Her helper Merill was quiet and, but still said hi and ... Read More
Getting on the ship was fast and easy especially since we were VIP. Our cabin was nice and clean. Our Steward Sitti was nice and friendly and always said hi when in the hall. Her helper Merill was quiet and, but still said hi and nodded and smiled when you walked by. We had a nice view from our balcony. The room and bathroom was always clean. One side of the ceiling bed was out and they didn't get mad when asked to put it in all the way. We always had a new towel animal with candies. I gave them each twenty-five dollars extra. The room stewards are over looked. We had early dinner first night service was great after that it went down. I won't mention names because I don't want them to get fired. We never saw or met the head waiter like we did on the mariner. Our head server was female she had a nice personality and smiled. She was polite and nice. Her helper "Borat" smiled alot, but got on my nerves. Came by every five minutes asking if we want more water or bread. I would have hot tea and have my tin open meaning I want more water. After they each came by twice and still no hot water I asked and then they would take it like minutes later and I would get it. The cups in the lido are bigger than the ones in the dining room. They need to be bigger. By the time they all started singing we still hadn't got our main course even though starters were done with. Food was good, but the steakhouse has better. Service was slow I just brought my ds and started to play in between courses. Was able to finish a 2 different courses of Mario Kart at the least four at the most. Other than that they didn't get any extra money from me like they did on the mariner. I wanted to subtract, but wasn't allowed too. Ivon the ones who asks for drinks that comes around was very nice and very knowledgeable in her drinks. She knew what drink my mom was talking about and what was in it when the one we asked before didn't even know what she was talking about. The Maitre' D was just plain annoying "Hellllloooooo" every single night just got on my plain nerves. I never tipped her I just didn't see any reason not to. The Arcade room sucked not much of a selection to expensive five dollars only gets you two choices. The gym sucks also it's small and not alot to choose from. The machine is either broken or in another language. The library and computer room is in one room. Not alot of books and internet is expensive. Your better off not paying for inertnet use and buying it in the city. I hated having to open the door for the intercom. They should make it to where it goes in your room, but have a choice to turn it off or on. I liked the ice cream, but the buffet could use some adjusting. The shows were okay. The thing I found different from Royal and Carnival though was that with Carnival the purchase were updated immediately. With Royal I probably wouldn't know till the next morning even when it was ourchased in the morning. Will try Carnival again, but not Spirit unless they change Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
After 3 ½ months of staying at home for remodeling after flood damage, we resumed traveling. (The reason we retired early). We got a good price on a suite so decided to take the Carnival Spirit to the Mexican Riviera for the 5th time, ... Read More
After 3 ½ months of staying at home for remodeling after flood damage, we resumed traveling. (The reason we retired early). We got a good price on a suite so decided to take the Carnival Spirit to the Mexican Riviera for the 5th time, starting 3/3/10. It stopped in Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo. Usually the weather is in the 90's and very hot and humid. This time we lucked out as it stayed in the 80's with less humidity. Sweating was reduced considerably. We had a Meet and Greet on the first sea day and 5 officers showed up and spent almost an hour with us. We had about 20 CC'rs. Carnival provided coffee and water for us; they are not quite as liberal as some of the other cruise lines. Living in southern California makes it easy to take these cruises out of San Diego or Long Beach; One hour drive to both locations. This was our 24th Carnival cruise and we took it mainly because we wanted our 25th to be to Hawaii on 4/11/10. Carnival gives us 25% of whatever we paid our travel agent for the cruise as credit on our sail and sign card. $3000 = $750 and we have 100 shares of Carnival Stock so we get another $100 credit; $850 will go a long ways toward paying for tips, bar bill, purchases, etc. Not too bad!! The Spirit is a nice ship with many balconies, so unlike the older Elation and Paradise, you can usually get a good price on a balcony. We check for the best discounts: past guest 55+, military, and California resident. Also, since we are flexible on dates, we can qualify for significant reductions in fares. Most of the Carnival ships have reduced their orchestra to 8 musicians and only have 2 lead singers for their Big Las Vegas style shows. They also use recorded music to supplement the orchestra. Being a retired musician, this bothers me. The Spirit has added a second trumpet and a 3rd saxophone and all the music is live; plus they have 4 lead singers. This resulted in some of the best shows that we have seen on Carnival ("Jazz Hot" and "Big Easy"). They even had a night for "Big Band Music" in one of the lounges (Club Cool) which was really great. They flew in Ned Rifken, the "Carnival Ambassador of Swing" for another night with the orchestra. This was a "don't miss" performance. Good musicians were all around the ship, except for Peter in the piano bar. (Sorry Peter) He plays fast and furious, non-stop like he is afraid to interact with the guests. We normally hang out at the Piano Bar, because it is a place where you get to know others. Most piano bar players joke around with the patrons and there is a lot of personal interaction. Peter played a lot of notes, could sing decently; but he was so loud that those singing along could not be heard. We checked out the other venues, instead and they were top notch. Enjoyed "High Rise" in the Club Cool, two nights. Being seasoned cruisers, we don't buy into Carnival's over priced excursions. Internet research and comparing notes on the CC forums helps us decide what to do. Since my cousin and wife joined us on this cruise, we became tour guides. In Mexico, we usually walk off the ship and negotiate with a licensed taxi driver at the pier/dock for a 4 or 5 hour excursion. In Acapulco, we lucked out and got Misael T. Valdovinos for four hours for $80 for the 4 of us in a nice van with AC. He spoke very good English and was very knowledgeable. He is the President of the Coalition of "Informadores Turisticos" (all wear blue shirts), so a real find. He took us to the Cliff Divers; jewelry shops (free beer and wine); Los Flamingos Hotel (owned by American movie stars for a while in 1940-50's) and "Casablanca". movie hotel (both had wonderful views); Pie de la Cuesta Lagoon; and downtown for best shopping. He ended up staying with us for 5 hours and was so great that with tip we gave him $120 ($30 each). Zihuatanejo- We love this small, clean town; there are 2 trash cans in every block (clearly labeled) and the streets and sidewalks are spotless. The ships tender out here, but close to the town. When you get to the pier, turn right on along the beach. Shops all along this beach side walk and restaurants. The first few do not have beach seating, but if you go about a block you can sit in the sand under umbrellas. There must be a "beer war" because 90% of the restaurant/bars sold beer for $1 USD each. Most people tank up before returning to the ship. Other things to do include the water taxi to a nice beach or take a taxi to Ixtapa for Cancun style hotels and all-inclusive resorts for a day fee. We also do the internet in Zihua for 10 pesos for 30 minutes. The last port was Manzanillo. We have not only been here on the Spirit, 5 times; but we flew down in early 2008 and stayed 3 weeks in the Las Hadas area. The city is the major seaport for the Mexican Pacific and is a bustling port. Unemployment is very low, as well as crime. This time we docked closer to town and were able to walk out of the secured dock area and negotiate with taxi drivers. There is also a shuttle bus for $4 RT into the city center. Downtown is large and busy and not touristy at all, no beautiful churches or museums. We have ridden the city buses several times; you can go to Santiago (suburb with many Canadian snowbirds), Las Hadas resort area and the beaches of Miramar. Most people opt to go to the beautiful colonial city of Colima. It dates back to the 16th century and is a UNESCO city. Several beautiful churches/cathedrals, museums, plazas and an active volcano. Also recommended is to lunch at the neighboring town of Comala. There are 5 restaurants in a row across from the city square. You buy your drinks (overpriced), but you get free snacks, or botanas. They keep bringing them until you say you are full. They are varied and tasty. Most times, there are dueling Mariachis; sometimes so many that you have difficulty hearing just one. This experience is not to be missed; you can watch the drunks or even be one. The ship offers this excursion for $80 per person. We paid our driver (also a nice van with AC) $35 each and had control of where and when we went. Most of the taxis were Nissans and would have been crowded with the 4 of us; so glad we found a van. If you ride the local bus, you pay only 5 pesos or $.50 each. There is also golfing and some of the best Deep sea fishing. The city can be a bit smoggy because of all the industry and a huge electrical plant. It does make for awesome sunsets, however. The last 2 days are at sea heading north to CA. This is time to kick back, read a good book and enjoy the pool deck. Of course there is gambling, shopping and music. They added a Fun Farewell party on the last night, in the large Pharaohs Palace. Cocktails were complimentary, the orchestra played, there was a singer and a very funny comedy act (with props), Marcus Raymond. We saw him twice and he is hysterical. As you may have guessed, we do enjoy the Carnival Spirit, the ports and the days at sea. Must be so, since on this, our 5th time we are still singing its praises. Jim and Cheryl jnccruisin Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My husband and I went on the Carnival Spirit in January 2010. I had cruised before always on Princess, so like many I had heard the horror stories about the "booze cruise" that Carnival runs. In fact, my nieces had participated ... Read More
My husband and I went on the Carnival Spirit in January 2010. I had cruised before always on Princess, so like many I had heard the horror stories about the "booze cruise" that Carnival runs. In fact, my nieces had participated on one in October 2009 after I had booked my January 2010 cruise which did not make me any more comfortable. And being a diabetic, any alcoholic drinking is a thing of the past. I have to say that the trip was wonderful. The food was excellent. The room was perfect as was the service. We did have dinner one night in the steak house and the food was worth all that they charge and more. The quality of meat was that of a fine restaurant like Morton's. The room stewards were more than helpful and I appreciated the "animals" on the bed each night. They did not make a pest of themselves and most of the time we did not see them. But when we needed something, they were there with it. The activities were "ok" but then I dont go on a cruise expecting to like the shows, wanting to play bingo or participate in an art auction. I do gamble and even for a cruise ship, where one does not win too ofter, this trip I did. The negative was the weather, and it rained so bad in Ixtapa that the excursions were cancelled. So we walked through old town in the rain, getting soaked and lost, but that was an adventure my husband wont forget soon. Especially since no one understood his high school spanish. Me, I laughed and continued to wander, but eventually agreed to translate for him when the rain got more serious and it appeared that the old town "Zua" was going to flood. Made it back to the ship without any mishap. So my suggestion, is if you are not bilingual or adventurous, dont strike out on your own in any port except maybe Cabo, which was not on this trip. Having spent too much time in the 80's in Mexico,I have to say that Ixtapa seems the same and unfortunately Acalpulco too. Not one my favorite ports, but at least it does not smell like Matzlan. Cause this ship did not stop at Matzlan, I selected this itinerary. But seriously, the town is dangerous after dark so get back to the ship or stay with a tour group. Manzanillo was a pleasant surprise not having been there before. The snorkeling offered through the cruise line was good and the "afternoon" hanging at the beach where the snorkel boat dropped us off was really what Mexico was like back in my younger days. Dirty but pleasant, and cheap, so dont expect to find the quality of a Maui beachfront resort here. People who we shared the dinner table with that night spent the extra money to go to Las Hadas Hotel for the day(as in the movie set "10" another 80's icon) and I think Joe and I had the better day, even if the beach was one with loaded with locals and not exactly clean and perfect. The snorkel guide was an expat American who had migrated here 20 years ago and knew lots of local tales and flavor. Having snorkeled or dived for excess of 30 years in all parts of the world (including the Great Barrier Reef) I have to admit this trip got my attention cause it involved snorkeling on a ship wreck only 100 yards off shore. Joe does not dive and my diving days are over, so this trip was a pleasant and fun day. I would highly recommend it. So did I like the ship? Yes, so much so that I have now booked to go back on this same ship this fall for a five day cruise to my favorite Mexico port Cabo San Lucas. Do I have any criticism? Yes, Carnival please do something about the three hour cattle call when embarking.... on that Princess has you beat. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
There was not a bench or a seat to be found anywhere near the elevators. Sure - there was plenty of seating in the bars and various public rooms but none near any elevator. We also noted that the library on the ship appeared to be an ... Read More
There was not a bench or a seat to be found anywhere near the elevators. Sure - there was plenty of seating in the bars and various public rooms but none near any elevator. We also noted that the library on the ship appeared to be an after thought. Not only was the book selection poor but computers for accessing the Internet were placed directly in front of the books on table. This made it difficult to even view the books, let alone get to them. Books were locked up and library was only open for an hour two times a day and . It is nice to be able to pick up a good book and just relax on a cruise. Don't Carnival Cruise lines executives ever read a book? On other cruise we have taken, Holland America and RCL had beautiful libraries open for hours with huge comfortable chairs where one could sit just to get away, read and relax. Carnival Spirit needs to improve their library set up. Our cabin was fine, however - next time I would seek cabin closer to hallway. It's a lot of walking to get to the room. Food was good. Not quite up to par with other cruises we have taken but certainly tasty and plentiful. Some public rooms seemed a little over the top with decor. We did find it a little silly after a while that the head waiter had the staff dance and sing each night. The song went on forever and had to be a drag for the waiters to "perform" night after night and it was the same thing each evening. They could have come up with something more unique as in other ships. Anyway - we still had a good time. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
First, a litte about us. I'm almost 40, my husband is mid-40s. We have two children (11 and 14) who we can't imagine cruising without. This was our third cruise. Our first one was a three-nighter on Royal Carribean to ... Read More
First, a litte about us. I'm almost 40, my husband is mid-40s. We have two children (11 and 14) who we can't imagine cruising without. This was our third cruise. Our first one was a three-nighter on Royal Carribean to Ensenada and our second one was seven or eight nights on Norwegian to Belize. For us, cruising is the perfect way to see places we would never see othewise. We traveled with my best friend from college, her husband, and their son. They had never been on a cruise before. We found embarkation to be a breeze. We stood in other cruise line embarkation lines for hours, but we were done and on the Spirit in 15 or 20 minutes! San Diego port was a dream in this respect. No fuss, no muss. The ship was something to behold. It definitely borders on gaudy, but hey, we like Las Vegas too. Our room was absolutely divine. We had an extended balcony for the first time ever. We were situated right below the pool so the sound of adjusting deck chairs was loud at times, but we are sound sleepers. Seriously, the balcony was just divine. We won't be able to go back to anything less. Our steward, Putu, was terrific. He quickly learned all our names and asked after us if we happened not to be traveling in a herd. We really enjoy all the sea days. That said, we aren't really into all the activities. No one in our family has a competitive hairy chest or a decent rubber chicken relay time. Still, it's nice to wander around, take a dip in the pool, get the lay of the land, and take a nap or three. Speaking of the lay of the land, I found this ship to be really confusing. It was always congested, and I had a hard time remembering where things were. Traffic flow was horrid and I felt quite confused at times. Thank goodness I had smarter people to help guide me! We don't make our kids attend Camp Carnival, and they have little desire to go. We just don't spend enough time together in real life, so we stick together on vacations. That said, our friends' son found the Camp Carnival to be a lot of fun. We found the ports to be incredible, especially Z-town. We didn't schedule any ship excursions, though the family we traveled with did and had satisfactory experiences. Acapulco was huge and intimidating. The beach nearest the ship had lots and lots of dead fish washing up, much to the disgust of my kids. Z-town was our favorite stop. Plenty of margaritas, guacamole, and snorkeling make for a happy family. We highly recommend Playa las Gatas! Manzanillo was better than we thought it would be. We took a taxi to a beach and took a snorkeling tour, which was educational and beautiful. Food on the ship was fine. Honestly, we're not picky but the food on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian was better. We ate most dinners in the dining room.Our waiter, Gary Edward, was terrific. The supper club was fine, but not worth the $30 extra per person. The family we traveled with found the supper club to be divine. To each his own, right? La Playa Grill was always crowded and difficult to navigate, but fine food-wise. Debarkation was speedy. We were zone 23 (!) but still managed to get off the ship by 10:30. Customs was a joke--the agent simply asked for our form as we waltzed by with our bags. Overall, I would definitely go on another Carnival cruise, especially with the kids. The price was right, the itinerary was wonderful, and we came back feeling relaxed and energized. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
 My wife is 63 and I'm 66.  We have cruised several times before - the last time on the Glory in 2008.  We've cruised the Inside Passage twice (NCL Spirit and NCL Star) and enjoyed both of these.  We booked several months in ... Read More
 My wife is 63 and I'm 66.  We have cruised several times before - the last time on the Glory in 2008.  We've cruised the Inside Passage twice (NCL Spirit and NCL Star) and enjoyed both of these.  We booked several months in advance with Ashley at MOAA, and booked our excursions with CCL after comparing prices and finding very little significant difference. We flew Delta from Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Anchorage on Monday  the 15th.  We used FF miles and booked Business Class the whole way.  A good breakfast on one flight and a decent lunch on the other.  We arrived in Anchorage at about 2:15 pm, and the view from the plane was gorgeous as we approached.  The sky was nearly clear of clouds, and my wife got beautiful phone pictures of the glaciers. We got a cab and proceeded to the Westmark downtown (it's where the Delta flight crews stay).  The cost of the taxi with 20% tip was $23.00.  We have a friend who lives in Anchorage, so we took her to dinner, and she drove us to several of the sites around the city.  On the drive we saw 4 doll sheep (two within 30 feet) and a cow moose less than 100 feet away in a bog area.  We finally got to sleep about  4:00 am Atlanta time (midnight). On Tuesday, we rented a car from Avis - pickup point was 4 blocks from the hotel.  The Camry was comfortable and roomy for our planned trip to Seward.  The drive was beautiful along the Turnagain Arm and through the mountains.  We stopped at Portage Glacier and Exit Glacier before arriving in Seward.  We had lunch in town - we had never had rockfish before and it was great.  At 3:30 pm we boarded a boat with Renown Tours for a 3-hr nature watching tour.  We got beautiful pictures of the Bear Glacier (mammoth), whales, puffins, sea otters, sea lions.  We've never seen so many birds in one place.  The captain was very informative and funny on the trip.  We picked up some wine at the Safeway there for onboard, and then drove back to Anchorage and crashed for the night. Wednesday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel and walked around downtown Anchorage, hitting all the souvenir shops.  Alaska Cruise Transfers and Tours picked us up at 12:30 pm for the drive to Whittier - the cost was $45/person and had a wonderful narrative along the way.  We had a 30 minute wait at the tunnel, and arrived at the pier at 3:15 pm.  It took us about 20 minutes to get onboard, and our luggage arrived at the door 15 minutes after we did.  We had a balcony cabin midship on the port side Upper Deck.  We went to dinner at about 7:00 pm and were seated immediately (anytime dining).  They asked if we would mind sharing a table, so we sat at a table for six - no one sat with us and I had definitely showered that day.  The meal was good, and the service was excellent (each meal in the dining room we asked to share a table - it was a wonderful way to meet new people each time we dined).  We went back to the room and sat on the balcony relaxing.  The tunnel was closed for 1.5 hours due to a motorcycle wreck and there were delayed arrivals, so the ship didn't sail until about 10:15 pm. Thursday was College Fjord and a sea day.  Beautiful scenery.  Dinner that night was cruise elegant, so I wore a coat and tie and my wife dressed fittingly and beautifully.  We noted  that many men wore just dress shirt and tie - some wore jeans.  Also, cowboy hats in the dining room really turn me off. Friday we arrived in Sitka.  We had not been there before.  The tenders seemed to take forever to get from ship to dock.  It was an interesting town.  We walked the town and saw the major attractions in town, and then decided to walk to the Raptor Center.  On the way, we went in a beautiful little church (St Peter's by the Sea),  had beautiful views of the Spirit through the harbor, stopped at the fish hatchery, viewed the totem poles, walked through the National Forest, and arrived at the Raptor Center.  Worth the price of admission.  What these people do for injured raptors is truly amazing with the ultimate goal of releasing them back to the wild.  Up close with eagles (bald and golden), hawks, peregrine falcon, owls, etc is a rewarding experience.   We walked back to town, and had a late lunch (halibut) at the Westmark hotel restaurant.  No excursion there - just a nice walkable town. Juneau was on Saturday.  We walked around town seeing all the jewelers and had a mandatory drink in the famous Saloon.  We walked back to the dock and boarded a bus to take us to our 1:00 pm whale watching excursion and salmon feast we had booked through CCL.  The boat was a two-level craft with lots of open space.  Within 40 minutes, we saw a mother humpback and her calf cavorting in the waters.  They were surface feeding and breaching for the full 30 minutes we were allowed to stay with them.  Interestingly, Capt Larry was there at the same time.  I believe the considerably higher boat we were on allowed a better angle for much better viewing and photography with no noticeable crowding at the rails.  We photographed two other humpbacks, sea lions, eagles, and awesome views of Herbert and Mendenhall glaciers.  We went back to Juneau for the salmon eat and were not disappointed.  Salmon and chicken grilled perfectly with all the side dishes you could want.  The area was picturesque with a beautiful waterfall - reminded us of Liarsville in Skagway. Sunday morning we arrived in Skagway.   On our previous trips we had ridden the White Pass Railway up the mountains to Fisher in British Columbia (a must if you've never done it), so this time we rented a Camry from Avis and drove to the Yukon.  The drive is beyond awesome - nothing compares to the scenery you view.  We stopped in Carcross for ice cream at Matthew Watson's - an interesting store and good ice cream.   It was Aboriginal Day in Carcross,, so we were fortunate to see many people in Native attire and the Mounties were in full dress.  We drove on to Emerald Lake with a stop at the sand desert area along the way.  The drive back to Skagway was similarly stunning scenery.  If you do this drive, watch the speed limit.  We saw 4 Skagway police radar units on the descent from British Columbia to Skagway.  We got back to Skagway around 2:30 pm, walked the town, and easily got back on the ship with plenty of time to spare.  It was extremely windy on the walk back.  When we departed, the Captain said that the wind was 30 knots and we were travelling 20 knots directly into the wind, so the actual wind on the balcony was in the neighborhood of 50 knots.  Once again, great scenery and the naturalist Michelle had interesting tidbits of info along the way to Ketchikan. We arrived in Ketchikan at 11:00 am on Monday.  We really like Ketchikan in spite of all the souvenir and jewelry stores.  It's quaint.  We visited the downtown stores and picked up all the freebies from the merchants.  We walked back to the pier at 1:00 pm and boarded the bus to the George Inlet Lodge and Crab Feast excursion.  When we got to the Lodge, we donned wet weather gear and went on a boat to pull up some crab pots.  The first pot was filled with huge Dungeness crabs and a couple of starfish which we all handled before releasing them back in the water.  Our guide, Paul, was very interesting and knowledgeable.  When we returned to the lodge, they served all-you-can-eat crab.  Our table overflowed the shell waste container, and the crab just kept on coming.  On the return bus ride, we saw more bald eagles and huge salmon forcing their way up one of the creeks.   We walked to Creek Street, the old brothel street, and watched a young man catching crab off the bridge - he caught three keepers while we were there.  We then walked back to the ship, sort of dreading the fact that we would only have one more day aboard. The Inside Passage was on Tuesday.  Once again, the scenery was beautiful.  We passed quaint lumbering towns, lots of fishing and sail boats, and some gorgeous oceanview homes.  I did see two humpback whales from the balcony that were close enough to photograph. Vancouver, Wednesday, debarkation.  We had breakfast in the buffet, and departed our cabin reluctantly at 8:15 am.  The cabin stewardess had told us we could stay til 8:30 without causing her any delay.  Since we were staying in the city one night, we didn't need an early debarkation number.  Ours was 28, and we were off the ship and on our way to the Park Inn at 9:45.  We checked in and then walked to Granville Island in the light rain.  This was the first day that was rainy.  Granville Island is an interesting collection of fish and produce markets.  We had our last halibut fish and chips for lunch on Granville Island and a great Indian dinner near the hotel. Home on Thursday.  We took a cab to the airport for our return Delta flights to Atlanta.  It's nice to clear US Customs in the Vancouver airport.  We had a short flight to Salt Lake City and then, with a 40 minute turnaround, on to Atlanta, with a very good dinner and wine in Business Class. Service on the Spirit was very good.  The dining room wait staff was exceptional - seemed to have time to talk and give advice.  Our cabin stewardess was nearly invisible, but efficient; and, the towel animals were appreciated as always. Food on board was also very good.  We had breakfast in the room, at the buffet, and in the dining room - all very nice.  Surprisingly, we never saw a crowded buffet area and never waited for a table in the dining room using anytime dining.  Dinners at both the buffet and dining room were also good.  The prime rib in both was very good, cooked medium rare the way it's supposed to be done.  My wife thought the crème brulee was good, and she's a connoisseur when it comes to that dish. The Entertainment started off poorly but got better as the week progressed.  The first show routine was very poor - no energy, poor choreography.  Then we went to the Blues Brothers show.  Chris (the cruise director) and Mark (assistant) gave the best performance of the week - it was outstanding.  Then, the final dance show was much more memorable.  The comedians and so forth were average.  And, the Legends Show was a great topping on the cruise. Looking back, it was a great cruise - relaxing, fun, entertaining, and certainly memorable.  The weather was unbelievably beautiful.  We love Alaska, and the Carnival Spirit was a great way to visit. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
This was my sixth cruise (all with Carnival) which I booked in May 2005. I believe that one of the keys to a successful cruise to Alaska is planning ahead. The Cruise Critic board was a crucial part of the planning process. Because I ... Read More
This was my sixth cruise (all with Carnival) which I booked in May 2005. I believe that one of the keys to a successful cruise to Alaska is planning ahead. The Cruise Critic board was a crucial part of the planning process. Because I travel alone, I decided to book a 1A guarantee, knowing that there are only 5 such cabins on the ship. I was upgraded to a 4B cabin forward port side, near Pharaohs Palace. I booked my own airfare, which included an overnight stay in Seattle. I returned to the airport the morning of the cruise and was taken to Canada Place using Carnivals transportation (through Grayline). I arrived at the airport at 8:30 am and found courteous Carnival employees who directed me to where I needed to go to board the bus to Vancouver. The bus did not leave until 11:00 am, as there was barely a full bus to make the trip. The driver, Pasquale, was pleasant and got us to Canada Place around 2:00 pm. Some CC members flew into Vancouver and in retrospect that might have been a better thing to do. The embarkation process at Canada Place was the quickest I had ever seen. Walking through Canada Place was a breeze and I was on board the ship within 15 minutes of stepping off the bus! My luggage was delivered by 430 pm and before the ship left Vancouver, I had unpacked everything. After a quick lunch on the Lido deck, I went to my cabin and met my cabin steward, Tabbatta. I only saw her a few times during the week, but she was always attentive to my cabin and I had no problems with my cabin whatsoever. Tabbatta was very nice and did a great job. The ship in my opinion is similar in appearance to the Conquest. It is very tastefully decorated with blends of a Roman spa in the gym, the beauty of Egypt in Pharaohs Palace, the Chinese dEcor of the Shanghai Bar and the French theme in the Empire Restaurant. Our cruise began a little late due to airplane problems in Dallas, but we set sail around 630 pm and cruised by Stanley Park and we were on our way to Alaska! Since my last cruise, Carnival has added bridge cameras, which are shown on the TVs in the cabin. They also added Fox News Channel and what I would call local cable access. At 9:00 am each morning the Cruise director (Shawn Bussey) and one of the social hosts (also named Shawn) did a half hour program that could be best described as a cross between Waynes World and Live With Regis and Kelly. Shawn and Shawn reviewed the days activities and promoted some of the highlights found in the Carnival Capers. The program was re-played several times a day. Carnival also used this channel for the afternoon trivia contests. I called in a few times and won a couple bottles of champagne! I had late seating in the Empire Restaurant (815 pm). I was assigned table 305, which has a great window view starboard side. My waiters were Uan and Tuty, who are from Indonesia. They were superb! Uans contract was ending the week of our cruise and his mind was on getting ready to head to Indonesia to see his wife and child, but he was professional throughout the week and did a superb job of remembering my name and preferences. Tuty was wonderful also. She also worked on Lido deck at breakfast time (in the area the employees call Chinatown) and was delightful as well. The food was great each night. The gala midnight buffet, with ice carvings and the great spread of food, did not start until 1230 am, a bit late for me, so I passed on that. The naturalist on-board, Michelle, gave an interesting talk on glaciers and wildlife. During the week, she provided much insight into what we would see and she was very helpful. The evening shows nights headlined four comedians: Lowell Sanders, Tom McGillen, Fred Anderson and Mrs. Hughes. Each was very funny, although I did not attend the midnight shows. There was also a balancer named Pepper who was quite good. The production numbers Swinging with the Big Band and Standing Room Only were also very good. Formal nights were Thursday and Sunday nights and the Carnival Spirit Orchestra performed well at the formal cocktail and past guest cocktail parties. One thing to point out is that the Carnival Spirit differs from the Holiday, Sensation and Conquest in that the demographic of the ship is not a group of the typical Carnival passenger who travels on the fun ships. In fact, it is much more sedate. I wasnt the youngest person on the ship by any means, but often the public areas were sparsely populated. Its not a boring ship, but you wont find a hairy chest contest. There are several lounges on board, but they were not greatly populated. The largest crowd was at the Deco Bar, located just outside the Empire Restaurant. A remarkable jazz trio played each night.Our first stop was Ketchikan. I had booked a 3.5 hour tour with Sourdough Tours (www.aksourdoughtours.com) which took us to Totem Bight State Park and Saxman Native Village and included admission to Dollys House. Our driver, Woody, gave us ample time to look around and was very knowledgeable about the history of the area. Several CC members went on this tour and it was quite enjoyable. Woody recommended a place for lunch called Burger Queen for the best halibut in town- he was right! Our next stop was Juneau. I walked over to the Juneau Visitors Bureau and got some valuable assistance to plan my day. I took a city bus ($1.50) to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery (known as DIPAC). Because it was early in the season, there was not a lot going on at the hatchery, but the aquarium was interesting to see. I took another bus to make my next stop, the Alaskan Brewing Company. There you can sample 5 kinds of Alaskan beer before going on their tour. One of the employees, Tony, led the tour and he was great. Following the tour, I returned to cruise dock where I took a bus with Mighty Great Tours to Mendenhall Glacier for $12 round trip. I understand now why this is one of Alaskas most visited sites- it was incredible! The visitors center cost $3 and you can watch a nice film about the history of the glacier. I returned to the ship to get ready for the Gold Creek Salmon Bake, which I booked with Carnival, It was also enjoyable- the salmon steaks are cooked over alder wood, which make them quite tasty (especially with clam chowder and an Alaskan Summer Ale!). On the way back to the ship, I stopped by the Red Dog Saloon for yet another Alaskan Summer Ale. Our next stop was Skagway. I had booked a 3 hour tour with Discover Skagway (www.discoverskagway.com), which included the Days of 98 Show and a trip by van to the White Pass Summit and the Gold Rush Cemetery ($52). The driver, Cody, was very helpful throughout the trip, even as far as be willing to take pictures of the passengers using their cameras. This really personalized the trip. I had enough time afterward to stop by the Red Onion Saloon for lunch (a sandwich called The Harlot) and Alaskan Summer Ale. Our final port of call was Sitka, which is just a wonderful town. I tendered into town early (730 am) and walked around to Totem Square and to the Castle Hill, where you can get an overview of historical Sitka. I then walked on to Centennial Hall and saw the morning performance of New Archangel Dancers, 39 ladies who perform Russian dances ($8). It was very nice and I would recommend seeing them perform. I then walked to the Alaskan Raptor Center. This is an incredible place! You will never get any closer look or greater appreciation for the majesty of our national symbol, the bald eagle. I then headed back into town and found a reindeer sausage vendor! This I had to try and it was quite good (its not all reindeer meat!). Following lunch, I went to St. Michaels Greek Orthodox Cathedral ($2).Disembarkation on Wednesday was a breeze also. I had booked the Carnival transfer from Whittier to Anchorage and I was off the ship by 730 am. I arrived in Anchorage at the Egan Center around 9:00 am. You have to wait about an hour and a half for the luggage to be unloaded at the Egan Center. Because my return flight was not until Thursday at 1250 am, I had pre-booked a car rental with Avis and picked the car up around 1130 am. From there, I headed south along the Seward Highway to Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort. The tram ($16) provides for incredible views of the area from 2,300 feet above the resort. I then went to the Alaskan Berry Products store (I need to see the chocolate waterfall!) and had dinner at the Alaskan Sourdough Company. Before dinner, I enjoyed an hour program presented by the resident storyteller, Dusty Sourdough. I had heard about the famous corn fritters and they were indeed quite good! I returned my rental car at the airport around 9:00 pm in preparation for my 1250 a.m. flight. When I got to the terminal, I found out that the plane was going to be late due to weather in Chicago and that I would miss my connection in Seattle. United Airlines helped book a connecting flight on American Airlines from Seattle to Dallas. Our plane from Anchorage left at 308 a.m. Upon arrival in Seattle, I needed to re-book my connecting flight from Dallas to Baton Rouge, which was done very quickly by American Airlines. To summarize, this was a fantastic cruise! Shawn Bussey did a remarkable job and each member of the Carnival Spirit crew that I met was extremely helpful. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, planning was a key to the success of this cruise. Over 40 CC members signed up for the roll call on the boards and the section which answered questions about Alaska was invaluable. Thanks again to Cruise Critic for all the great information and advice to make a cruise of a lifetime to be a memory of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Carnival Spirit April 3, 2005 Our second cruise on this same ship in six months. We are some thirty miles off the coast of Baja, approaching Cabo San Lucas by tomorrow morning, and one day almost to the hour since leaving San Diego on the ... Read More
Carnival Spirit April 3, 2005 Our second cruise on this same ship in six months. We are some thirty miles off the coast of Baja, approaching Cabo San Lucas by tomorrow morning, and one day almost to the hour since leaving San Diego on the Carnival Spirit with over 3,000 souls on board. Two paying passengers per crew member. Advice to new and repeat cruise aficionados: A single factor worth repeating; it's a matter of attitude. Go with the right attitude and any problem fades into insignificance. So I did what I preach in my management classes and pasted a smile on my face. I smiled at the Mexican family shouldering their way into the embarkation line, and they back off. I smiled at the security people and they were courteous. I smiled a broad greeting at the ticket counter clerk and got prompt, smiling attention in return. Attitude = response. Show a smile, get a smile. Show patience, get service beyond the call of duty. So far. Hope I don't have to edit this observation at a later date; after all, we are only into the eight-day trip by one eighth! This attitude thing was made quite easy a week before sailing when we opened a letter from Carnival Vacation Cub giving us our new cabin number... 5173, an upgrade from a window cabin to a balcony! And when we entered our cabin, a fine bottle of Merlot from Dickinson, the CEO himself, thanking me for my long letter of complaints from our experience with the Vacation Club fiasco. Being further resolved as I write. We had asked for early seating and when boarding we discovered it was late sitting. No problem, we went straight to the dining room and the maitre de asked if wanted to sit with a group or alone and the change was made in less than a minute. Comfort, we are finding, is in the detail and not in the size. The 'staterooms' are as small as on the sales literature, to repeat a bit of humor by Todd, our first trip Tour Director. But then you discover your oversize suitcase really does fit under the bed, and there are enough drawers and closet space to accommodate all that junk we brought on board. The detail. Can't turn on the shower hot water without having first turned on the cold. This is a wonderful feature especially since boiling-hot water is instantly available. I don't know if by a nearby instant hot water heater, but most likely from continuously running water through the pipes in an effort to exchange engine cooling water to save on fuel costs which makes a lot of sense. Rather than spill engine coolant into the ocean, they chill it first by running it through our showers and sinks! Also, the tap water is distilled water so don't buy expensive bottled water! (Note, if you open the bottle of water on the counter you will get a surprisingly large bill on your minibar account. Drink tap water!) And speaking of energy: I tried to trace the hydraulic fluid pumped by exercising machines in the Fitness Center into the engine room and failed. There are over 50 machines, most occupied by sweating, grunting, huffing and puffing people pouring their energy into these machines. The machines should be connected to generators and thus feed into the ship's propulsion system! Tried to get onto the bridge but that feature is no longer available on cruise ships since 9/11, same with the engine room. No visitors allowed. Also, no shore visitors are allowed either. On our first trip on the Carnival Spirit I was outraged at the high prices one had to pay for a drink or a beer. So on this trip I drained a five quart box/bladder of wine over a few weeks before sailing. I then took the bladder out of the box, cleaned it, tested it, and poured a bottle of Scotch into the bladder which then went into my suitcase. Even if they use an Xray to detect bottles, the bladder is invisible. So I smuggled a bottle of Scotch to enjoy a nightcap without paying a king's ransom. My wife took her Mexican leather covered flask of Brandy and it went through the receiving machines with no problem. Many people we talked with during the cruise say that they never have had any problem bringing a bottle of hooch on board in their luggage. There seem to be enough free activities to keep everybody who needs that kind of stimulation happy. During our first cruise we were quite content to simply explore, linger here and there, meet people, dance and occasionally do one of the activities. On this cruise my wife is going for broke in participating in as many activities as possible while I sit by a window in a comfortable chair and read Michener's "Alaska". Back to the details. The bathroom: A roll of toilet paper at the ready and three more in plain sight waiting to be of service without hesitation. The shower drain is backed up by a series of channels allowing excess water to bleed into another outlet thus preventing flooding on the deck. Where you could easily slip, fall and break your skull. Enough cantilevered glass bottomed trays hanging from both sides of the sink for all the goodies you ever thought of bringing. Mirrors everywhere, from above sink, to on dresser, to full length on the door. Enough to scare any Dracula into permanent hiding. The air conditioning control actually works! Turn it up hair and instant reaction. No noise, no heavy duty relay kicking in and out every few minutes. Apparently controlled from outside monitoring incoming and outgoing air from each stateroom. Since the doors are watertight, the air inside must be pumped in and out. So the room is always fresh and at exactly the right temperature. Bedside lamps just enough light for your side to read by and move about at night, not enough to bother your mate while asleep. Of course there are no television programs worth watching, but enough ship videos of activities and engineering tours to satisfy my curiosity. But I'd still like to see the bridge! Because we have a balcony, and because the main reason for our passion for the Mexican Riviera is to enjoy the tropical air, we left the door open all the time we were in the cabin. When the door is open, the air conditioning automatically shuts off. Again, quality is in this kind of detail. An ode to the toilet. It must be remembered that eating is the primary activity on a cruise ship. Continental breakfast at six overlooking the foaming wake of the ship in the twilight. Breakfast at around eight including fruits, ham, hash browns and a three-egg omelet, not counting the toast and whatever else you can load onto a tray... not plate, but tray. Then at ten, then at noon, then at mid afternoon, then dinner and lastly the midnight feast amidships. Where does all that food go? Consider - the human body can only digest and convert so many calories and nutrients into food for the body. The rest must be discharged. You have 3,000 some odd souls on board. The toilet on a cruise ship must be the most efficient and trouble-free piece of engineering on the whole ship. If toilets were allowed to clog, there would be another 500 plumbers on board to feed and entertain and the cost would be prohibitive. End of the cruise industry. The name on the toilet is simply "EVAC" surrounded by a simple logo. I have no idea where they are made, but if you have your legs pinched together and you push the Evac button you will be sucked into the bowl with no way to get out except to shove a tube between your legs to let the air into the vacuum. It takes one point seven seconds from push to full evacuation of anything in that toilet bowl. Anything! I can imagine all that excrement going into a tank and further mechanical processes feeding oxygen into it as it is being stirred and stirred and stirred. The resulting methane gas must be in the tons and surely fed into the diesel engines or burners somewhere on the ship. There is no way for the amount of sewage to be dumped into the ocean without having the Green Peace people up in arms and the dolphins far, far away from the ships. No dolphins, fewer guests. Bad for business. I imagine the remaining sludge to be sold as cleaned, bagged manure at each port. Closing in on Zihuatanejo we watched a school of dolphins surf on the bow waves of the ship. They had as much fun as we did in watching them. Yesterday was half a day in Acapulco and Melon was able to get into her magical Acapulco bay water and become a young girl again, without arthritic pain, free to move as she felt. In Acapulco we got off the ship and walked a half mile south along the boulevard, returned to El Perico which we had discovered on our first trip, had our ceviche cocktails, shot of tequila, couple of beers, some lunch and ambled off a few yards to sit under the shade of an umbrella, paid your $2 rental fee, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. The rest of the vacationers were on guided tours or chose to remain on board. Since we both speak Spanish we entertained ourselves by showing an interest in the few vendors walking the beach on this weekday. One lady in her mid forties approached and offered a massage. We quickly discovered she is a shaman, witch-doctor if you will, and dickered with her for two massages and spirit cleansing. She gave us her phone number Lucia, 74 41 33 31 97 and asked us to call ahead the next time and she and her apprentice daughter would be waiting for us for a repeat session. It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable massages I have ever had and my wife says the same for her. Cost? $25 total for two, plus a $5 gratuity I was eager to pay. My advice: Learn what you can about the places you will be stopping. Make contact with as many tour companies via Internet as you can. Ask friends. Play the newsgroups. Do things on you own! The tours are OK for the novice and the person who just wants to get a feel for things. And of course the Cruise Ship company will be promoting tours where they get a fair commission. I am learning that every trick in the book is being used to part me with my money. The people The Armenians on our first cruise were big, boisterous, loud and oblivious of the rest of us on the ship. They crashed lines, held heated arguments in the middle of the passageway without a care. On this cruise about half the passengers are Hispanic, mostly Mexicans who have done well in the US and now enjoying family reunions. They kept to themselves, were very polite, easily leaving space for others, easy smiles, gracious in their manner, the kind of people you'd like being round! Sit long enough in one place and somebody will sit nearby. A minute later you will make a comment or the other and a conversation will start. "Nice day" "Yep" "Where are you from?" And so it goes for as long as you can both stand the nothingness of the chat or until something really strikes you both and animation begins. Often the silence becomes oppressive and you find an excuse to move on. As chance often has it, you move to the stern only to find your 'new-found' friend already there. Melon noted this is the perfect venue for a family reunion. Everybody can do as they see fit without getting lost in the shuffle. There are many family groups on this cruise. Grandparents reluctantly rolling strollers with babes down the isles as their 'kids' enjoy the Jacuzzi or??? But only infrequently as most family groups could be seen eating together, lounging by the pool, or just hanging out. I think a cruise would be the perfect setting for a seminar. One took place on this cruise for a group studying mediation. Their fee was about $1,000 per person for the course, plus discounted group fees for the cruise. Like it or not you will be seated with the same bunch of people every night. If I were to make a suggestion to the cruise companies it would be to rotate tables thus giving us all a chance to meet other people. But then, I imagine most people like the security of having at least one predictable element to their daily life of adventures at sea and on land. (Since writing this in the middle of the cruise, I am now thankful for no rotation as we are getting to know some wonderful people and it's good to have something sure, something known to look forward to other than your stateroom.) It was, in fact, a sad parting of the ways with our two LA area, fun-loving couple sharing the table with us. Our shore tours were simply getting to shore, walking, taking a short boat ride to a quiet cove and dipping into the ocean blue as we did in Zihuatanejo. In Manzanillo we debated calling our cab driver from the past trip... the president of the local taxi cab association who had said he would make a special deal for anybody mentioning my name. Joel Andres Virgin Lopez, Cell. 044 (314) 10 305 28. - but instead found a shuttle service to downtown for $3 round trip and we took it. Our objective was to find something interesting in Manzanillo other than tourist traps. We found a typical Mexican restaurant in an old hotel, just a block from where the shuttle dropped us off. We spent the rest of the day there sipping Micheladas (Lime juice, beer, salt-rimmed glass, ice), munching Mexican appetizers, meeting other travelers from the Carnival Spirit with like minded love for authentic Mexico, and had a wonderful time. Our bar and food bill for the hours spent there was $18 US. The Director, Mr. Emilio Fernandez Lopez helped the waitresses and bus-boys with a smile on his face, answered questions and told us the story of the hotel. Hotel Colonial, corner of Fco. Bocanegra and Avenida Mexico, just a block south of the Western side of the Plaza. He promised to send me an email when his phone gets connected sometime 'manana' which means sometime in the future. We will be inviting our friends from Colima to join us there next October and will most likely call the Los Candles (the hotel's restaurant) to set up a special buffet for the occasion. I'll be calling 01 314 332 10 80 or 332-06-68. On the subject of FUN! What may be fun for some, cold be hell for others. What hell may be to some, could be fun for others. So our cruise ship offers a seemingly endless menu of activities, shows, and the like. But I have learned that I need to learn how to have fun. And I'm betting that I am not alone. After a lifetime of challenges it is difficult to wake up in the morning knowing there is nothing at all that must be done to bring bread and fish to the table. But the sense of having to do something, to be active in the quest for money and goods is buried within most of us. And retirement, or long vacations, brings this to the surface. There must be half a dozen eager beaver professional cheer leaders of the crew who spend most of their time cajoling, encouraging, demanding and teaching us how to perform for one activity or other. The "Marriage Game", dance contests, slot machine contests, are but a few examples. Then there is the full sized chess set, arts and crafts room, the library, casino, bars and lounges. Not to mention privacy in your own room with your personal playmate. There's the Jacuzzis, four of them! The sauna, steam room, massage tables, 50 torture exercise machines and the endless sea. The shore tours either guided or on your own or with friends. The endless opportunity to shop and spend money. Evening shows and being waited on by professionals in the most elegant settings since the Titanic at prices within the reach of those of us who are not among the rich and famous. On this trip my wife was lucky enough to get selected to participate in the hypnotist act and after the show, and during the next few days, I learned what it is like to be the husband of a celebrity! Years ago she had both our children under hypnosis so she knows something abut it. On stage she showed herself to be the perfect subject and the hypnotist made the most of it. Toward the end, the last act was for the participants to believe they were belly dancers. Well, my wife, having been a professional belly dancer for 17 years, really let go, forgetting arthritis, and danced away making the audience go wild with applause and shouts, whistles and gypsy cries. She brought the house down! After that, almost everywhere we went she was met with smiles and questions "did you really go under?", "what was it like?", "do you remember anything?" - great fun! Ship geography. There was no way in heaven or earth for us to have known how to decide the location of our stateroom. As chance would have it, we made out like bandits with no cops in town. Level 5 and three quarters aft, just four levels from the munchies and fantail which became Melen's querencia. (Querencia is that place a bull finds when entering the bull ring and chasing away the men in capes. Then returns after each attack. One point 6 minutes from room to lemonade, tea, munchies, coffee, chocolate, munchies, water, ice... Five minutes round trip to the Pharaoh's Palace, the main theatre and meeting place for some shore excursions up near the bow of the ship. Never more than a thirty second wait for any elevator, ever! On the subject of FOOD Twenty four hour Pizza was advertised, and fulfilled. Gourmet dinners were advertised and have lived up to their promise. Service is always with a smile and on a scale of one to ten, a ten. We always have two options for breakfast - on the Lido Deck or in the main dining room. Same for lunch and same for dinner. The main dining room menu has always had at least five selections for appetizers, two for salads, five for the main course and several desert choices. Lobster, Filet Mignon, Veal, Prime Rib, Tiger Shrimp, Pacific Salmon, Quail, Duck, and various very elegant pastas were enjoyed by the four of us at our small table. Our next table neighbors were seen refusing an occasional dish that did not suit them for whatever reason and I noticed it was exchanged with an apology and a winning smile by our waiter. I brought the bottle of Merlot to our table on the last night and Luka, our waiter promptly brought the four wine glasses and pulled the cork with grace and great smile, poured the sample for my wife, and then for the rest of us. On the formal night we received a bottle of chilled champagne compliments of the Vacation Club. A nice touch. During my lifetime I have had the good fortune to dine at four and five star restaurants such as Anton's in New Orleans, The Brown Palace in Denver, Tijuana's Country Club, The Ritz Carlton, and the like. I am rating our dining on the Carnival Spirit at that level. Perhaps there is a more limited variety of things one could ask our waiters, but whatever is within their reach was made available to us with a simple request. Most often, they would make the offer and we would either accept or reject. To me, this is a sign of true quality. On the Lido deck 9 there are 9 distinct mini-buffets, the fruit bar, pizza bar, four breakfast/lunch bars one specialty bar, one oriental bar and the hamburger/steak/hot dog bar. The quality is good, but the appeal seems to be for those who measure good food and eating by the "all you can eat" mindset. The specialty bar offered Mexican fare one day and other national favorites on other days. The oriental bar was never short of sushi, sauces, wont-ton soups, sweet & sour and the like. There is always an ample supply of iced tea, lemonade, orange juice, coffee, decaf, chocolate and ice. Some statistics. 2,400 passengers, among them are some 300 kids. A crew of 924 made up of people from over 70 countries speaking some 60 languages, all getting along just fine. Over half the crew are in food and beverage services from receiving product to cleaning up and everything in between. Crew members are recruited in Carnival Cruise offices all over the world, are sent to a four week Carnival University, then assigned to one ship or other for apprenticeship and then full crew status. They work six to seven months, then take a six-week vacation and if qualified, are assigned to another ship. An observation: The inside cabins are dark and you never know when it's daylight or night by looking. So on our first cruise we kept the TV on to the forward looking camera which provided enough light to keep from stumbling. On this cruise we had the drapes pulled open all the time and enjoyed the view! Jose and his helper, our cabin boys clean up and make the bed twice a day, once in the morning breakfast, and once during the evening meal. Mints and sculpted towel designs greeted us every night and were superb mood-lifters and smile-makers to end the day with. They also made it impossible for us to tell the purser to lower the $80 per person tip as 'suggested' on our bill. What with Luka and his assistant, the other servers and crew, we got our money's worth, and more. Wayne Lundberg, 2005 www.pueblaprotocol.com Chula Vista, CA Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
We chose Carnival for this trip because of price, itinerary, and the kids program. We're a family of 3; My husband and I are in the mid-late 40’s with a 9 year old daughter. We've been on Carnival before, and were not ... Read More
We chose Carnival for this trip because of price, itinerary, and the kids program. We're a family of 3; My husband and I are in the mid-late 40’s with a 9 year old daughter. We've been on Carnival before, and were not particularly impressed. Still, we decided to give it another try and we're glad we did! We shared the ship with hundreds of boat dealers, as a group called "Tracker Marine" had their annual Sales meeting aboard. That kept the numbers of kids WAY down in Camp Carnival, and added greatly to the enjoyment of our cruise. A VERY nice group of well mannered and seaworthy folks. Embarkation: We left Colorado on July 30th. Easy flying to Vancouver. Easy finding the right place to catch the bus. Thrilled that our luggage would go to the ship without our needing to haul it along. A short tour of Vancouver on the way to the ship. Easy stopped right there. LONG lines, little organization, and a good hour before we got to our cabin. Not a pleasant way to start our vacation. Then, the mandatory lifeboat drill (having been on a couple of other cruises, I find that safety is not as good on Carnival as it is on NCL). Cabin: Plenty of storage space. Two doubles could be made up as a king, though it took our room steward 3 days to do this, even after repeated asking. (More on the room steward later). We were in a partially obstructed balcony (#5143) which I'd book again in an instant. Yes, there was a lifeboat there (one of the few that they used as tenders in ports), but it was not covering up any view for us. (I'd be REALLY careful about booking any of the cabins on the level under us....every 5th partially obstructed French door might have had a bit of a view, but not much!) Nice bathroom, plenty of room in the shower. Oh, the blowdryer took me about 30 minutes to find...it was in the topmost right-hand drawer in the cabin...not in the bathroom at all. That bottle of water is NOT free, though we had no sign telling us that. I'd rather drink lukewarm tap water (fine water, by the way) than pay for a bottle of water. Food: Hit or miss. Food was available and plentiful at all times. The Lido deck food was perfect for my daughter. Both breakfasts and lunches there were fine with varied choices. We did discover that waiting 30-45 minutes after meals started being served allowed us to find tables. Very crowded, otherwise. The Empire dining room for dinner had good looking choices each day, though my husband couldn't possibly cut his NY strip on the first night, let alone eat it. The Filet Mignon tasted a bit grainy. I think they could have gotten a better cut of meat, but not at the low prices they'd have to work with, based on the price I paid for our cruise. All of the snowcrab that we could eat one night, and some very good salmon on the catch of the day's menu. Didn't think anything special about the French Onion soup that had some rave reviews on these boards, and wasn't really pleased with the pumpkin soup, either. Desserts were okay, but not special. My 9 year old didn't like the cookies, and we found them to be inedible. The brownies (off of the kids' desert menu) were very good, however. Once we described how to make a brownie sundae, our wait team delivered both ice cream and a brownie to each of us and we had a very good dessert. I noticed (especially on the upper Empire level that most tables were for 2 or 4. I'd have preferred eating with others, but we got a table for just us.) Our service team was wonderful....I can’t say enough good about Putu and Alberto. Putu was amazing with his origami skills and sent back to our cabin some interesting critters to entertain our daughter with. We made sure that we tipped them both extra. We didn't try the alternative restaurant. Room Service: We only tried it once, but it was on time and (mostly) correct. Cabin Steward: We tried (for the first and LAST time) to pre-tip our room steward. All we asked for was ice, on time cleaning, opening the mini bar (and clearing it out so that we could chill the wine our travel agent sent) and the life jacket for our daughter. We never had consistent ice, the cleaning was fair-poor (we found a can of orange juice, a pair of slippers and an M&M under the bed at the start). It took Allison 2 days to provide the life jacket. He never did clean out the minibar...just shoved the wine inside which caused us problems when we won a bottle of warm champagne at the Not so Newlywed Show and wanted to chill it for later. Entertainment: We only went to one show. The singers were really good. Our daughter (with Camp Carnival) went to a couple and really liked them. Ports of Call: Ketchikan: We booked a sportfishing trip. Our daughter caught the first fish on our boat, a dogshark. Then, there were salmon. We'll find out how much when it all shows up here tomorrow. A good shore excursion, though I wouldn't be surprised if our salmon cost over $50 a pound by the time they get here between the cost of the excursion and the cost of processing and shipping! Juneau: We had booked the glacier dogsledding trip which was cancelled. So, we walked down to where the other ships were docked and found a bus (light blue) which offered a ride to Mendenhall glacier for $10 round trip. We walked around for awhile, then decided to look at the underwater salmon camera. From there, we heard some strange noises which turned out to be a young black bear cub up in a tree. Got some great pictures when Mama came to talk it down. Then, back to town to visit the Red Dog saloon (a funny pianist during the day, a country singer in the evening). Also, if you want to be driven to and from the ship (only during daylight hours), you can buy a day pass on the city trolley for $10 pp. You can do the glacier and the city tour for as little as $20pp. Skagway: We had planned on trying for the dogsledding trip here if Juneau was cancelled. By the time we found out that Juneau dogsledding was cancelled, Skagway was booked. In the end, Skagway was cancelled, too. So, we went to M&M tours (RIGHT at port as one would walk to town) and booked their sledding on wheels trip. They also offer the sled on ice trip, but due to weather, they weren't flying. It was not the trip that we'd anticipated, but it was plenty fun. Our daughter, especially, liked that trip. She got loads of time to pet the dogs and got to hold a litter of puppies whose eyes had only opened that morning. Sitka: We booked the Sea otter and Wildlife Quest on the ship. One big reason we did this is it's a tender port and after a week on the Norway, we've had enough tendering to last a lifetime. It was the biggest disappointment of a tour we took. Yes, we did see otters and sea lions, but nothing to write home about. Still, it did get us off the ship in an orderly manner. One quick note: When they say to meet for a tour at a specific time, DO IT. (We got there 15 minutes early for each tour and were glad we did. If you miss the boat, it's your problem....no refunds.) Seward: Because we booked our airfare from Carnival, we got stuck with an 11:30PM flight home. (The guy at Carnival had never heard the term air deviation. I'd specifically told him I'd rather pay for a room for a night than to take a red-eye flight with a tired kid). So, we opted for the one tour which would mostly kill off our last day, the Kenai Fjords cruise. However, the ship refused to discount the price as we already had our airport transfer paid for. (I'll bug the guy at Carnival about this one and hope for either a refund or a credit for a future cruise). It was a nice but really bumpy ride. Many folks got seasick on that one, and all of our baggage had already been shipped up to Anchorage. I don't know if it's generally as rough as it was that day, but am very grateful for my families sea legs. Also, they did not give us the advertised T-shirt. We took a bus up to Anchorage with a short stop at an animal refuge place where I got some good pictures of animals which we hadn't yet seen on the trip. Then, it was mass confusion as to where people went. Some got off at the airport while others of us went on the the Egan center to collect our luggage. Then, a good 30 minute wait for a bus to take us back to the airport. Not the best, but not horrible. Shopping: Prices seemed to get higher the farther north we went. If you're really wanting Russian-like items, then wait for Sitka. Otherwise, buy early as many of the ports had much the same stuff. Also, make sure to check what you're buying. We found a number of authentic items with a small Made in China sticker or mark on them. Clothing: Some folks said not to bother with long underwear. I live in an area where the temps in February often drop below zero. We all took longjohns/wooly hats/gloves and were grateful that we'd brought them. The dining room had no problem with jeans and a nice shirt for dinner on the non-formal nights. I do have a good cruise wardrobe, so had resort casual packed and did wear some of it, but came home with more unworn nice clothing than anything else. I'd take 3 pairs of jeans rather than the 2 I packed and 1 pair of nice pants with a couple of interchangeable shirts. 2 formal wear outfits, too. Take comfortable shoes (2 pair)! Don't worry about boots...if you need them for an excursion, they'll be provided. People are right about the layers. For the coldest days, my long underwear with jeans, a long sleeve shirt, a sweat shirt and a lined windbreaker were fine. When we cruised the glacier, we were glad for the woolies! Other things to bring: BRING GOOD BINOCULARS! We brought 2 pairs and should have brought 3. Most of the things you saw were some distance away. Also, I found a disposable panorama camera which should have some awesome pics on it. We brought 4 disposable cameras, and 16 rolls of 35mm film. Came home with one camera used and 10 rolls of film waiting for developing. Duct tape if you don't have an early morning on the last day. The speaker into the cabin started at 5:45AM. We didn't catch our tour until 8. The speaker is right behind the stool (where I suppose one is supposed to blow dry their hair?) and I'd have duct taped it if I'd found it earlier! Camp Carnival and Kid stuff: Ah, a big part of the reason we went on this trip and the thing which sold us on a Carnival cruise again.... Carnival has instituted a Kids dining program where you drop your kid off at 6PM and they feed them (not on the first night, though). My daughter HATES to dress up, so didn't have to. However, we were early seating dinner which begins at 5:45PM. Our waiters understood why we were late for dinner each night. Carnival could have made this a bit easier by having us drop her off at 5:30. If you've got kids who will participate in Camp Carnival, you need to attend a meeting on the first night. It's followed by Parent/child activities. Camp Carnival's policy of 9 and up year olds being allowed to sign themselves in and out could be a problem for some. Our daughter knew that we weren't offering her that option. We occasionally checked on her to see if she was having fun, but she knew that if she signed herself out, there would have been consequences. If you've got kids in this age bracket, make sure that you and they discuss this before you leave them. One parent went berserk toward the staff when she showed up to claim her son only to find out he'd signed himself out. Our daughter turned 9 in March, and I was afraid that some of the activities for the 9-12 year olds would be too advanced. So, I asked if we had the option of putting her into the younger group. I don't know if it's standard, but since there were so few kids on this cruise, they said it would be no problem. Really nice counselors. Just ask (politely) if you want to bend the age-range slightly. One night, they offered the 9 and ups a pool party under the dome. Parents MUST sign a waiver for this. Since the pool is over 4' deep, I'd only let my child do this if I know that they're a pretty fair swimmer (That was the incentive for 2 months of swim lessons prior to our cruise). The water slide never opened, as far as we saw. The Educruise stuff with Camp Carnival taught our daughter more than any of us (the not seasick ones) on the Kenai trip about whales. She provided a lot of information about the Orcas that we saw in abundance. The camp offered (on the second formal night) an overnight challenge (extra cost of $32 for the first child). We dropped her off at 6PM for dinner with the staff and they delivered her back to our cabin at 7:30AM. She had a blast playing hide and seek in the Pharaoh's Palace at 4AM, but did write on her comment card that the floor stank. And, if you decide that this is something you might want to do, be aware that you'll have a really tired and grouchy kid with you for much of the next day, as Camp Carnival has more limited activities for kids on that last sea-day. Past guest party: The invitation was received less than 30 minutes before the party. We had to go in jeans. Watch out for the rum punch special, it was VERY strong! This party is one big chance to drink a lot for free. Unlike past cruises, they kept the drinks coming and coming. We were surprised to find that they brought dessert items to munch on first and saved the warm appetizers for later. Casino: We did better there than we ever have. The odds weren't rotten (at least to us). Debarkation: Smooth, as long as you don't mind getting up EARLY. Overall: I'd love to sail on Carnival again for a family vacation. It was the best-yet cruise for our family. Alaska is expensive! Those shore excursions really add up. We never slowed down and felt that we needed a restful vacation once we got home. If it were just my husband and myself, I think I'll look for good deals on one of the premium lines where the meat is at least choice grade. I get enough select here at home. I will not pre-tip again. If it improved our service, I understand why I kept seeing fellow passengers refilling their own ice buckets. Read Less
Carnival Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.4
Dining 4.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.6
Public Rooms 3.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.2

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