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Carnival Spirit Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1038 reviews
2 Awards

San Diego to Hawaii via Ensenada

Review for Carnival Spirit to Hawaii
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First Time Cruiser • Age 80s

Rating by category

Public Rooms

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Sail Date: Apr 2008

We flew to San Diego on Saturday April 19 staying overnight at the Holiday Inn directly across from the cruise terminal. We received rather vague information from Carnival about check-in and certainly did not want to spend an afternoon standing in A long line so the Holiday Inn worked perfectly. We planned to sit in the lobby until Spirit check-in. We took our baggage to a sidewalk sitting are a at 11 AM & I walked across the street for information. A security guard at the gate said check-in had already started so I returned to the hotel & retrieved my wife and baggage. Carnival had baggage porters at the entrance. We joined the line inside, processed in about 15 minutes and were issued bus boarding passes with instructions to return at 2 PM. A free shuttle was provided to the Seaport mall which we took. About 12:30 we decided to walk the few blocks back to the terminal stopping by a beautiful military memorable and a view of the military museum. We discovered the buses were loading for Ensenada and enjoyed a 2 hour ride to join the Spirit. At the US border, the Mexican police held us for about 5 minutes but never entered the bus. However, the view of the northbound side was completely different. The line for US customs was miles long and seemed frozen. Cruisers on the return voyage might consider an overnight in San Diego. It is a lovely city and we were fortunate to have our granddaughter & her Marine husband from Camp Pendleton join us for the evening. We dined at the nearby Fish Grotto. Touristy but the view was great, service good, and food OK. Carnival did a great job at embarkation but seem extremely shy about providing information. We found the same on the ship. Although a native Hawaiian had several seminars, his information was historical. A shopping guide did the usual port shows but was the worst we had encountered on almost a dozen cruises. Our first stop was an overnight on Maui. On debarking, we entered a large parking lot with lines of people waiting busses. Carnival personnel were provided to guide everyone on ship tours. Two lines were for a shuttle to Hilo Hattie's and a large mall which we took after a 2 hour wait. The driver told us a local bus station was located at the rear of the mall. This was only a 15 minute walk from the ship (after wasting hours). We discovered buses ran hourly or better to most areas of the island for a standard fare of $1.00 each. We took a bus to Lahaina which had been a scheduled stop. This is a very nice seaside town and that day was celebrating the 130 year old banyon tree. Much nicer than where we docked at Kahului; on one side a barge loading scrap iron & the other a barge loading gravel from never ending lines of dump trailers. The next day we took the same bus to a wonderful aquarium chock full of fish we had never seen before. On the remaining islands we took local company tours & were especially astounded by the lava fields on the Big Island because some people are rebuilding houses. No water or power but it is their land, regardless if it is under many feet of black lava. We finished with an overnight in Honolulu & then moved to Waikiki Beach for 3 more nights. I am a retired Air Force NCO and we were able to stay at the Hale Koa Hotel, a military R&R facility located on an old beach front Army fort. Everyone staying at other resorts should stroll thru the beautiful grounds which preserve much of the original area and are open to the public. One disappointment was the Atlantis submarine from Waikiki. The cruising area is almost completely bare with a few artificial reefs and almost no fish. We returned to San Diego on Hawaiian Airlines. What a surprise! They fed us 2 meals, the seats are large and the center row only has 3 seats with 2 on the window sides. On board the Spirit, the 5th seaday was boring. Most food was OK but the Lido buffet seldom changed excepting a regional dish, a deli making wonderful sandwiches & a popular hamburger grill. Our room steward usually kept things neat & clean but seldom changed used glasses and 3 times had to be reminded to refill the ice bucket. We celebrated our anniversary with dinner at the extra cost supper club. OK but the huge 12 ounce lobster tails on the menu display did not exist. We received 2 smaller tails. Tasty, but not as expected.

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