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Carnival Spirit Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1038 reviews
2 Awards

Carnival Spirit - Hawaii

Review for Carnival Spirit to Hawaii
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First Time Cruiser • Age 50s

Rating by category

Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

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Sail Date: Apr 2007

This is my second time on the Spirit but my first time to Hawaii. I had read what others said about embarkation from Ensenada and after speaking to three different Carnival reps via phone (and getting 3 different pieces of information), I was sure my mother and I would have no problems with embarkation. WRONG!!!!! To begin with, Carnival sent out the tickets and then sent out a second set. I wondered what the difference was and then I saw a letter that said to ignore the first set because the process for embarkation had changed. The letter said to keep the second set of tickets. Well, I couldn't tell which was the first set and which was the second because they looked exactly alike. I called Carnival. The first person said a shuttle was going to Ensenada from San Diego Pier. Since we were flying in the day prior, we could either go to the airport and be shuttled to the pier or go straight to the pier. I said I'd call back because I wanted to see where the airport and pier were in relation to our hotel. Turns out the airport and the pier are almost next to each other. I called back and told the rep that we were going straight to the pier instead of the airport. He said we had to go to the airport and the bus would take us straight to Ensenada. I assured him that this was not what I was told. He recommended I speak to someone else. I wish I knew this third person's name because I would love to her credit for the amount of help she gave me. I was on the phone for about 20 minutes, most of which was on hold, but she kept coming back to let me know that she didn't forget about me and that she wanted to find out exactly what was to be done. She explained that I could go directly to the pier and a bus would shuttle us to Ensenada. She said the last bus would leave for Ensenada at 3pm. I asked what was the earliest we could get there. She said as early as we wanted. (Note: prior to speaking to her, I had been told by one person that the last bus would leave at 5pm and someone else or maybe a carnival mailing said the buses would begin leaving at 11am, which made since because it's a 2 hour trip and I was told that boarding was from 1pm-9pm.) Day of embarkation, my mother and I arrived at the pier at 745am. (We're early birds. And our thought was, we can't really do anything else except wait, so why not wait in the pier instead of the hotel, and be one of the first ones to check in.) Well, we found out that the pier doesn't open until 10am (no one told us that) and that the ship hadn't even let people off yet. We checked in. we were told the buses would begin leaving at 1pm. We were given a free shuttle to Seaport Village. (Nice place. didn't enjoy it much because it was a bit cold and misty and didn't make for great walking weather.) We had lunch around noon and went back to the terminal. On the way, someone mentioned that he was surprised the boat was still there and said he had been told the boat takes 2 hours to get to Ensenada and that we couldn't be shuttled until 2.5 hours after the boat leaves so that we don't get there before it. (We had been told nothing of the sort.) Well, we sat. And we sat. And we sat. And after we finished sitting, we sat some more. The terminal has no food. (I went through several pieces of gum) no one knew what time we were leaving. No one knew what was going on with the boat. Most passengers were extremely upset and annoyed with Carnival. Others were annoyed with us for be annoyed with Carnival. Turns out, they had received information that said we wouldn't leave until 5pm. (See the pattern here regarding communication?) we finally left at 445pm. Got to Ensenada only to be told that we'd have to wait only 20 minutes until the ship was completely ready. Someone rudely asked if that was Mexican time or American time. She assured us it would only be 20 minutes. The time was 720pm. I was starting to go down from lack of food and water. (There was no food in the terminal and the water fountains were weak.) Because our bus was 2nd to arrive, we were the second to get off. The time was now 820. (What happened to no more than 20 minutes?) One of the machines was broken so only one machine could accept the sail and sign card. The initial photo that gets taken when you first get on the ship had a forced smile (no one felt like smiling and a few people would have love to have done something else, but we were polite and smiled.) there was a beeline to Lido because we were all starving. I looked out my balcony and counted the buses. There were still 15 buses waiting to unload. And to top it all off, our luggage arrived when we did. The Carnival Capers mentioned activities that were going on the day of embarkation—we missed every last activity because no one was on the ship. I had been told that the reason we have to check in at San Diego is because Ensenada is not set up to check people in. Carnival doesn't go to Hawaii often and according to a schedule I saw, it only goes twice from Ensenada. The other 2 times are from Vancouver. To me, it would make sense to eliminate the San Diego to Hawaii trip and just do them all from Vancouver.

Debarkation wasn't that good. Our luggage was delivered to a large holding room on the dock in Honolulu. Everyone had to get off and find their luggage in a sea of luggage. And even though my mother and I put our luggage outside the cabin together, our luggage was not together in the holding room, which meant we had to walk around and find our luggage. We took the Pearl Harbor/Sightseeing/Shopping tour. Pearl Harbor was nice, except the bus driver left 5 passengers there while she took the rest of us to Punchbowl. (Again, lack of communication was to blame.) And because it took FOREVER to get off the boat and load the buses, shopping was cut short. We only had 20 minutes to shop. Any thought of eating was out of the question because there was no time to get anything. What she had done was take us back to Pearl Harbor after seeing Punchbowl and told us to have lunch there while we wait for our tour of the USS Arizona. Everyone was expecting 'lunch'. What there was were severely overpriced sandwiches with a piece of meat, cheese, and lettuce. The end of the trip was a delivery at the airport. We got there around 330pm. We had to wait until 530pm because ATA didn't open until then. None of us knew that. We're sure the bus company knew. Maybe Carnival knew. Somebody had to have known something. Again, communication. There was a line a mile long because we were all from Carnival.

The rest of the cruise was ok. Lack of communication was abounding. On one of the islands, there was no shuttle to Hilo Hattie because Carnival did not tell Hilo Hattie we were coming. Other ships were due to arrive the following day and everyone was ready for them because they knew they were coming. My mother and I walked to town and a local asked us if we were on the ship. When we said yes, she asked if the ship ever comes to Hawaii? They knew Norwegian was coming the following day and that Norwegian comes often but she and no one else knew Carnival was coming the day we arrived. Another passenger said there were problems in the car rental agencies because the agencies didn't know Carnival was coming and therefore didn't have enough cars. He said on the plus side he was upgraded from the cheapest vehicle to one of the most expensive.

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Cabin 11
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