Tips after a great Alaska cruise: Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by RetiringProf

Carnival Spirit 5
Member Since 2012

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Tips after a great Alaska cruise

Sail Date: July 2012
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seattle
I'm 63, from Texas, in good health, my wife younger and in great health. We traveled with 3 couples but all agreed to "do our own thing" from the beginning. That was important. Here's some things we wanted to share:

First, the obvious: Prepare and plan early. Pack for cold and wet (gloves, scarf, headgear) but layered for the wonderful summer warm (60-70 degrees F) we enjoyed; Mid-July is a great time for this cruise. We had 9 sunny days out of 10, but note: that is very very unusual. Pack casual wear, pretty cool for sandals or shorts, altho we spent one afternoon sunning on the aft deck. Carnival has a great program to forward your baggage to the Sea-Tac airport at end of cruise ($20 per) - do it! (Then you can go baggage-free to see downtown Seattle and take the 3rd Avenue $2.75 metro rail to the airport.)

Get a balcony cabin (cabins on decks 6, 7, and 8 are all the same). Take binoculars (our 10x25s were fine) and a good camera (long long distance shots got us More eagles, two bears and a Sitka blacktail deer): this cruise is about scenery, scenery, scenery. Spending time in the casino or bars misses the whole point of this trip: we took 817 photos.

Board early. In fact, come to Seattle early - it's a great city for tourists, plenty of charming, good-value downtown hotels (the Vintage Park was ours). See the marketplace, Pioneer Square, Purple Bar & Grill; take the ferry or the water taxi. Be prepared for steep San Fran-style hill-walking...seriously.

As always, your being friendly to the cruise staff (all of them, from Minute One on board) will be returned ten-fold. Remember: this is not an exclusive resort where everything must be perfect. It's a cruise ship with 3,000 people: keep your expectations at a proper level, you'll enjoy your vacation more.

Breakfast in the dining room is quieter and with better service than the Lido deck grill/buffet. We try all of the eating spots on our cruises, and we generally enjoy the food, but these are not 5-star eateries!

The excursions are more expensive than in the Carib, but some are worth every penny. In Skagway, take the train. In Juneau ride the tram or whale-watch, eat at Tracy's King Crab Shack. In Ketchikan (our favorite port of call) get past the cruise shops & don't miss Creek Street, eat at Halibut Hole; we saw eagles everywhere there. Walk 10 blocks to downtown Victoria, enjoy the Inner Harbor.

Note: In the summer, sunrise is 5 am, sunset 11 pm.

As a Bucket List trip, and with the weather we had, we wouldn't change a thing. It's back to the Caribbean for us next, but we'll never forget Alaska. Less

Published 07/21/12

Cabin review: 8K8181 Extended Balcony

The bigger the balcony the better, Level 8 is below noisy Lido Deck, very typical accommodations.

Read All Extended Balcony (8K) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

A capital city, not a super tourist attaction, but an enjoyable walk through town. Tracy's King Crab Shack, on the docks, yummy.
Read 1207 Juneau Reviews

Walk past the dock shops, get to Creek Street and the salmon-run creek itself, eat at Halibut Hole. Our favorite stop, eagles everywhere.
Read 1370 Ketchikan Reviews

White Pass Scenic Railway

Fabulous 3 hours up into the mtns, too cloudy at top for good pics, but what a great ride.

Needed more time there, to see Inner Harbor, Empress Hotel, Bastion Square shops. Lovely Brit city.
Read 897 Victoria Reviews
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