Carnival Spirit - Mexican Riviera: Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by lonestarmikeb

Carnival Spirit 4
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Carnival Spirit - Mexican Riviera

Sail Date: November 2006
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: San Diego
My wife and I are 38 and this is our sixth cruise we have no kids and live for vacations. We chose the Carnival Spirit because I am originally from San Diego and now live in Austin. My family flew east for our last family cruise so we decided to go west. I have been to Baja Mexico many times but have only been farther south on the pacific side (Acapulco) once. We decided to fly in the day before because we almost missed one cruise due to bad weather and aren't going to take any chances. If you do fly in the day of the cruise try to sit on the left side of the plane and you can see the ship right before you land if they are landing west which the do 95% of the time. The Cruise Terminal is only about a mile away so not along cab ride. We did not stay at a hotel since my whole family (parents and 3 sisters) still live in San Diego. We stayed at my parent's house the night before who live about 20 miles inland. We decided to leave at noon but left at 11:30 because we were excited and More ready. We arrived around noon and drop off was very easy even from harbor drive. The Monarch of the Seas was in port also so you drive in between the ships, very easy. The long term parking lot is right across the street and we saw people loading up on peddle cab for a ride to the ship. My father drop off my Mother, Wife and myself and then drove to my sister house who leaves about 10 minutes away by the zoo to leave the car and get a cab ride back. There is a waiting area inside the terminal and in the time waiting for my father my sister and her husband and daughter (22 months) showed up. We waited for over 45 minutes and still no Dad who was waiting for a cab. My mother finally told us to board and she would wait. We decide to board due to the fact that my niece and wife needed to eat. Both ship board at the same place, left side was RCCL and the right side was CARNIVAL. Boarding was pretty easy as long as you don't try getting on when the buses pull up. The only complaint I have about boarding was that I had filled out my fast pass online and when you get through security they make you go to tables to fill out more stuff that could of done online (emergency contact and credit card info). Once we got through that and got our sign and sail cards and take our cheesy boarding picture it was time to get on the ship. To get on the ship you can walk up 2 flights of stairs or one elevator and since we had a stroller we waited for the crowed lift. This was our first time on Carnival because my wife was afraid that she would run into Kathy Lee Gifford (not a big fan). We had always heard that it was Vegas on water which was another reason we have never done Carnival before. You first board on the Promenade deck and see the beautiful atrium. We found out that it was going to be another hour before our rooms were ready so made our way to the lido deck and the La Playa Grill and had Pizza and other stuff from the buffet. The buffet was very good and this was true the whole cruise. We finally got to go to our room which was #6232 8E balcony cabin. The room was the biggest we have ever had, with huge closets and to say space was not a problem. The reason we chose this room was the balcony, online it is referred to as an extended balcony and it was huge. This balcony is 3 times the length of normal balcony and if you can get it, do it. My parents were right above us and had the same balcony. We meet our cabin steward and his assistant and they were great thought out the whole cruise. Saw them two more time and they always knew my name, sorry I can't say the same about them. I wish that Carnival would put a name card in the room so I you wouldn't feel bad about asking them their name again. We decided to check out the ship and it is beautiful. We found my parent eating at the buffet and that was when I realized that the La Playa Grill has 3 sides insides. One side is the pizzeria and fruit and salad stations the next side has hot sandwiches and your carved meat station and the on the other side by the glass elevators was the international food stations which I missed out on that day but made up for later. If you go through the buffet to the pool on the right side that is where the grill is to get hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. Love those fries. We all decide to go out to one of the pool bar and the ladies went to the spa. I don't want to bore you with family detail to much so I will say that we did the muster around 4pm and then went up for the sail away. Sailing out of San Diego at sunset was one of the most beautiful I have ever done. One complaint that I have was that they didn't have a band playing and when we did NCL they did and it was the best time we had, nothing gets you in the mood for cruising like a steel drum even if you're going to Mexico. We had second seating with a table for six and had great tablemates. Dinner was ok and little disappointing which happen most nights. We are not really show people so we didn't attend any of them. I am a golf course superintendent and I am up at 4:00am every morning so it was hard for me to stay up late. Never made it to one of the late night buffets, though I heard they were good.

The next day was our first day at sea it was beautiful but a little cool. I like doing the trivia and was going to do everything to get me a Golden Ship On A Stick. My brains are full of useless information and do well most times. My mother is also a trivia buff so we planed on teaming up. I did very well getting 16 out of 20 but my mother who copy most of my answer got one more than me and won the GSOAS. My wife and I enjoy going to the art auctions and there is one artist (Guy Buffet) that we like to collect. We have been only able to find him on Princess so were very surprised to see his work on Carnival and then realized that Carnival owns Princess. I know that some people believe that the auctions are a rip off but we don't. We buy because what we like and not for investing. We bought 3 pieces through out the cruise and are very happy with the price we paid. This being the first day at sea was a formal night. Usually I will wear tux but I did not on this cruise and was glad. Most men were in Suits and very few in tuxes. I think I would have felt out of place if I had been in a tux. Though for some men a suit was too much. Another day at sea more trivia and art auction and still didn't get that GSOAS. Found out that my little Niece had gotten sick the night before, they took her to the doctor and she would be fine. We had made reservation at the supper club with my parents and were looking forward to it. If you are looking for night to make reservations this was a great night. We were seated right in front and had a great couple singing love songs all night. Sorry I'm a sucker for love songs. The soup and appetizers were everything I had expected. The steaks were perfect my wife and mother each had the filet and my father and I had the rib eye. The 24 ounce porterhouse was too much even for me, but it looked good. The one let down was the deserts. We each had something different and my wife was the only one that was happy with her. Overall I would go back in a second and enjoy.

First port day  Acapulco. I really enjoyed coming in to port later instead of waking up and you're already in port. We sat out on our balcony and watch the Mexican coast go by and saw dolphins and sharks. Learned from my mother who was leaning over her balcony that my sister had gotten sick. I hope that it is not contagious. While sitting out on the balcony you start to see houses on the hillsides and then you see the bay and all the hotels lining the beaches. Since we arrived at noon and leave at 1:00am ship time, my wife and I decided to get some beach time. We got a cab and drove to Playa Caleta, from there we took a glass bottom boat ride over to Isla la Roqueta. The beach is nice and has food and beverage service. WE went back to the boat had a hamburger and then went to see the cliff divers at night. Wife had never seen them and she really enjoyed them. Decided to head back to the boat and party on the boat and try my luck at TV tune trivia. Out of 25 TV themes I got 23, and who said I wasted my childhood in front of the TV. Those people don't have a Golden Ship On A Stick like I do. It is now proudly displayed on my mantel. Acapulco is a big Mexican city, it's not overly clean and people ask for money at every turn. It will probably be my last time here because there are much more beautiful places in Mexico

Second port day  IXTAPA-ZIHUATANAJO. By far the most beautiful port on the entire cruise. Well I got sick and was not able to go ashore in the morning. You tender here and this by far was one of the most beautiful ports I have ever been to. The houses look like they are growing out of the hillsides with all the trees around them. I only wish I could afford to buy one and retire. My wife decided to go to Playa Las Gatas which she said was beautiful. You'll need to take a water taxi over to the beach. They have all your water activities and massages on the beach. She came back for lunch and I decided to try to get into port. On our way down to tender we ran into my family and they wanted to go with us, brother in -law stayed behind he got sick. When you dock, you walk straight into town and all the shop and restaurants are to the right. My wife had found a little bakery off the main strip so we all loaded up for the next couple of days. There is nothing like a kid with colored sugar all over her face. We went back into town and dad and I found a little table outside and sat while the ladies shopped. It was very nice to watch the fishermen and the people walking by. I would love to go back and stay here and see more and actually get to the beach. We never made it to IXTAPA, will save that for the next trip.

Third port day - MANZANILLO. This is a port city and it shows. There is not much to it and you can't walk to town. They do have a bus out front that will take you in to town and bring you back for 3 dollars and run every 30 minutes. We decided to try and find beach and got a cab to Audiencia Beach. This is the beach were Bo Derek ran on the beach, I'll have to check that out later. The beach it self is nothing special and the waves crash hard right on the beach. It drops of pretty quick once you get it the water. I am 6 feet tall and had to get out about 20 feet off the beach to where I could barely touch. This beach is located on the opposite side of LAS HADES and we decided not to go see it but you can do tours there. Went back to the ship to shower and change and decided to take the bus into town. Since it was Sunday it was very quite, Some shops were open and other closed. There was nothing exciting and don't need to come back We had two more see days and enjoyed the ship. found out that my father got sick, only my wife and mom are left. The ship it self is very beautiful and easy to get around. There were very few things that I can complain about, but the food at dinner was sub par at best. While having lunch at the buffet an older couple sat down next to us and we started talking. They have been on over 25 cruises and most of then with carnival. They asked us what we thought about the food at dinner and we told them. They said that of all there carnival cruises this by far had the worst food at dinner and that carnival usually has some of the best. It was nice to know that we weren't the only ones and to hear it from past carnival cruisers was even better. The buffet was very good all week and also the burgers from the grill. If I'm on a boat I'm good and this was fun to be here with my family. I have always wonder why people who bring there small kids with them, I truly enjoyed having my niece being along and just watching and playing with her made this whole trip. My goal is to cruise as much as possible and would definitely give carnival another shot, but next time I'm going back to the Caribbean. Mexico is nice and the people are friendly but my heart belongs to the crystal blue water of the Caribbean. Now if I can only get my wife back down to lower inside so we can cruise more. Less

Published 12/04/06

Cabin review: 866232 Extended Balcony Quad

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