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Alaska Cruise September 3rd 2008 7 days southbound from Whittier to Vancouver BC on the Carnival Spirit.Ports included Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan.We flew from Atlanta, non-stop, to Anchorage the day prior to our cruise leaving. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was a nice hotel with a good location. They have free wireless Internet, refrigerators, and nice size rooms. They also offer a free shuttle from the airport. There are several places to eat near the hotel that are in walking distance. We had booked the Magic Bus for our shuttle to Whittier the following day. The Hampton Inn also serves a free breakfast, which is typical of what you will find at these type hotels. The Magic Bus picked us up around 10am the next morning. We had a rainy drive to Whittier with two stops along the way to take some pictures. Our driver, Dot, gave a good narration throughout the trip. When we got to Whittier she drove us around the town and gave us a quick tour and info on the small local community. I highly recommend the Magic Bus, which is a good deal for around $50.Afterward we were dropped at the entrance to the Carnival terminal around 1pm. There was a long line when we entered the building due to the fact that their computers were down. However, the line moved very quickly and I would say that we had checked in within 15 minutes. We went through security and then entered the ship. We went to our stateroom 5128, port balcony, and dropped off our luggage. We then went to the Lido deck to have some lunch. I like the way the Spirit has different areas for different types of food. I had some of the Asian dishes, and also tried some chicken. It was pretty good. They had a nice variety of foods, including salads, fruit, deserts, and pizza. We went to our rooms after checking out the ship and found our luggage had been delivered. The balcony was awesome. You could really get great views just sitting there and watching the world go by. It was worth the extra money without a doubt. Our first day was at sea. They took us into College Fjord to experience the glaciers. When we got up around 6am, you could already seem them right off our balcony in the early morning light. We got dressed and went up on deck with most of the other passengers. It was a little cold and rainy, but we were able to get some great pictures. You could really see the blue in the glaciers due to the over cast weather. The Captain turned the boat several times so that we could get good views of everything. After about an hour we went into the Lido deck to eat breakfast while watching the beautiful scenery.Our first port was Sitka, which is the only tender port on the trip. It was cloudy in the morning, but the sun came out after lunch and it really warmed up. We had the Sea Otter Wildlife excursion, which picks you up right from the boat. We found this to be a wonderful trip, and I would highly recommend this if you want to see a variety of wildlife. We saw sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles, and hump back whales. In addition we had a naturalist on the boat that elaborated on a all the wildlife. After the excursion, the boat dropped us at the dock in Sitka. We were hungry and stopped at a local place close to the water to eat. Afterwards we shopped around town. Shopping seemed to go well in every port. We were told that due to being late in the season there were a lot of discounts. Most places in all ports were from 30%-50% of everything in their store. We bought some "real" Ulu knives in Sitka and shipped them home. There is a post office right on the main street. On the Ulu knives, we were told you could bring them on board because they were considered a kitchen utensil. We did buy some larger ones later in the week and had no problems bringing them back onto the ship. They did tell you that no knife with a 4-inch blade could be brought onboard. Our second port was Juneau. The weather was nice and sunny most of the day. I think there were a few scattered showers in the morning, but it cleared up and was very nice. We shopped a little in the morning, and then did a gold panning and salmon bake excursion around noon. This was really fun. Our guide, Jack, took us on a narrated guide through town, and then up into the hills. They take you to a stream and give you detailed instructions on how to pan for gold. Everyone found some gold on our trip. Afterwards they took us to the outdoor salmon bake. This was a really nice area with covered eating tables and buffet style food. The salmon was great, as were the beans and corn bread. Afterward there is a nature trail you can take down to a waterfall area. During the salmons season they said you can also see salmon in the streams. After lunch, they shuttled us back to the shopping district in Juneau. We picked up a few souvenirs and my wife found a very nice ring for her anniversary. I will get into some comments on the Carnival shopping later.Our third port was Skagway. My wife and I both liked this town the best. It was just a nice place. We had a dogsled mushing camp excursion that morning. It was overcast most of the morning, but did not rain until after lunch. We both really liked this excursion. You travel about 30 minutes from town until you get to the camp. You get into a six-person cart, which is very comfortable, and a team of dogs pulls you for about a mile. It was a fast fun ride. Afterward they take you down to the camp, and you get to talk to a musher who owns the dogs. Our guy spoke about his experience on the Iditarod. We got to pet the dogs and spend some time in the camp. We also got to hold and pet the six-week-old pups that were soooo cute. After our excursion, we were dropped off in Sitka. We had lunch at a restaurant called Northern Lights, which is right off 3rd street. The food very good. Afterward we went shopping around town. They have a lot of locally owned shops with Alaskan goods. We didn't buy anything unless we knew it was make in Alaska. Again, lots of sales everywhere. It's a good little walk back to the ship from town. We opted to take the shuttle for $1.50. Our last port was Ketchikan. We had sunny skies for most of the day here with a few showers late in the afternoon. There seemed to be many more stores and more of a commercial feel than any of the other ports. We went on the Saxman Native Village and lumberjack show tour. The native village tour was interesting and the totems were impressive. You get background on the native people and also get to see how they make the totems, as well as the history on their meanings. Afterward they dropped us at the lumberjack show. They make this a really fun show and have all of the events just like you see on television. The seating area is covered and cushioned, and they have heaters blowing on the crowd as well. After the show we did some more shopping and then headed back to the boat. Our last day was at sea was cruising the inside passage. It was bright and sunny the entire day. The scenery was really nice. We did see some hump back whales and I believe there were porpoises. It was just a nice day to spend out on the deck looking at the scenery go by. We spent most of the day doing activities on the boat such as the galley tour, towel animal folding, and trivia contests. We were docked around 7am on the last day. We had booked transfers to Seattle airport through Carnival. I highly recommend this if you are flying out of Seattle and booking your own air, like we did. They preloaded all of our luggage onto the bus, so we didn't have to worry about that. They called our number to disembark, and we were on our bus within 15 minutes. The trip was 3-3.5 hours long including a 20-minute stop at the border crossing. When we arrived at SEATAC they unloaded our bags and we picked them up. We were actually flying out the following day so I called our hotel, Courtyard Marriot SeaTac, and they picked us up. This is a nice hotel, which offers free shuttles within 5 miles of the hotel. Now to some of the issues. We attended the shopping talk put on by the Carnival shopping specialist. This little dude just talked and talked about how jewelry was the best buy in Alaska. They made sure to give us plenty of maps and info on all their "recommended" jewelry stores. Now we were told they gave best prices to Carnival Spirit customers and gave us a discount card to take into the store. We went into Tanzanite International in Juneau right after we got off the boat. My wife found a nice ring and we told the sales lady that we were on the Carnival Spirit. She mentioned our sales specialist by name and said she would give us the best price. She offered us about 50% off retail from, $2,200 down to $1,100 for the ring. I told her thank you and this was our first store we had been in, so we would keep looking. She calls her manager over, who then offers me another price of $850. I again told him no, and proceeded to head out the door. He then came back with a lower price of $695 for the ring. Well this kind of got me upset. One thing I hate dealing with used car salesmen (no offense), and I felt like the whole processed was tainted. I mean if you are to give me this good price because of my Carnival sales specialist and go to a recommended store I expect to get a good price up front and not have to haggle with people like this. I did leave the store at that time without purchasing the ring. We looked at several other stores, as well as the Diamonds International store. It was actually worse than the first store. The guy tried to put a guilt trip on me for not buying my wife a ring at his store. Every time he quoted me a price on a piece of jewelry he would say, "but I can do better". Well dude then give me your better price to begin with. We did get her a ring for her anniversary, so all is well that ends well. I just wanted others to know that they need to be careful about these recommended stores and never ever take the first price offered as their "best price". It had been ten years since our last Carnival experience, so I would have to say that things have changed a little. The first night was open seating in the Empire dinning room. You just went in and sat wherever you wanted. We had early seating and found this to fit our schedule much better. I guess they did open seating the first night because the ship departs so late, around 10pm. The next night we went to our assigned seats and met a couple from North Carolina. They were really good tablemates and we had a good discussion every night about the days activities. Our waiter was nice, but not very personal. We saw the Matride one time the entire trip when he stopped by to say hello. The food was good, not great in the main dinning room. My wife ate steak most of the nights. I tried to adventure out with fish and some other dishes. One night I ordered pan fried red snapper and was served some type of broiled white fish in a lemon sauce. I asked the waiter what it was, because it was not what I had ordered. He just looked at me and said that's what I got and make no apologies. The warm chocolate melting cake was wonderful, and I found that I had to have it every night. We did eat in the Noveau Supper Club one night for our anniversary. I will have to say that it was an exceptional meal and service, and well worth the $30 cost. The service and attention to detail was outstanding.I think we went to every show and late night show. They were all very good. I liked the Spirit Dancers, and thought they did very well. The music was top notch with a nice live band. The comedians were pretty good also. There was a guy who did magic and comedy who I really liked. The cruise director, Chris, was energetic and really added to the experience on the ship. Kirk was the assistant director, and I thought did an outstanding job as well. You could really tell everyone got along well and things flowed nicely. There were always activities, trivia contests, ice carving, bingo, etc on the ship. We did go in the casinos a few times to play slots. I also highly recommend the coffee bar right outside of the Pharos on the 2nd floor. They have ice cream, shakes, sweets, coffee, etc., at a low price. If you like beer, the Alaskan Amber is served on the ship. It was very smooth with a nice taste. Here's a link to some of the pictures that we took. Once you enter the album if you click on the detail view it gives a description of each image. http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0CZsmLhszZsXTw&emid=sharshar&linkid=link5darin2@windstream.net

20th Anniversary on Carnival Spirit

Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by darin2

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2008
  • Destination: Alaska
Alaska Cruise September 3rd 2008 7 days southbound from Whittier to Vancouver BC on the Carnival Spirit.Ports included Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan.We flew from Atlanta, non-stop, to Anchorage the day prior to our cruise leaving. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was a nice hotel with a good location. They have free wireless Internet, refrigerators, and nice size rooms. They also offer a free shuttle from the airport. There are several places to eat near the hotel that are in walking distance. We had booked the Magic Bus for our shuttle to Whittier the following day. The Hampton Inn also serves a free breakfast, which is typical of what you will find at these type hotels. The Magic Bus picked us up around 10am the next morning. We had a rainy drive to Whittier with two stops along the way to take some pictures. Our driver, Dot, gave a good narration throughout the trip. When we got to Whittier she drove us around the town and gave us a quick tour and info on the small local community. I highly recommend the Magic Bus, which is a good deal for around $50.Afterward we were dropped at the entrance to the Carnival terminal around 1pm. There was a long line when we entered the building due to the fact that their computers were down. However, the line moved very quickly and I would say that we had checked in within 15 minutes. We went through security and then entered the ship. We went to our stateroom 5128, port balcony, and dropped off our luggage. We then went to the Lido deck to have some lunch. I like the way the Spirit has different areas for different types of food. I had some of the Asian dishes, and also tried some chicken. It was pretty good. They had a nice variety of foods, including salads, fruit, deserts, and pizza. We went to our rooms after checking out the ship and found our luggage had been delivered. The balcony was awesome. You could really get great views just sitting there and watching the world go by. It was worth the extra money without a doubt. Our first day was at sea. They took us into College Fjord to experience the glaciers. When we got up around 6am, you could already seem them right off our balcony in the early morning light. We got dressed and went up on deck with most of the other passengers. It was a little cold and rainy, but we were able to get some great pictures. You could really see the blue in the glaciers due to the over cast weather. The Captain turned the boat several times so that we could get good views of everything. After about an hour we went into the Lido deck to eat breakfast while watching the beautiful scenery.Our first port was Sitka, which is the only tender port on the trip. It was cloudy in the morning, but the sun came out after lunch and it really warmed up. We had the Sea Otter Wildlife excursion, which picks you up right from the boat. We found this to be a wonderful trip, and I would highly recommend this if you want to see a variety of wildlife. We saw sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles, and hump back whales. In addition we had a naturalist on the boat that elaborated on a all the wildlife. After the excursion, the boat dropped us at the dock in Sitka. We were hungry and stopped at a local place close to the water to eat. Afterwards we shopped around town. Shopping seemed to go well in every port. We were told that due to being late in the season there were a lot of discounts. Most places in all ports were from 30%-50% of everything in their store. We bought some "real" Ulu knives in Sitka and shipped them home. There is a post office right on the main street. On the Ulu knives, we were told you could bring them on board because they were considered a kitchen utensil. We did buy some larger ones later in the week and had no problems bringing them back onto the ship. They did tell you that no knife with a 4-inch blade could be brought onboard. Our second port was Juneau. The weather was nice and sunny most of the day. I think there were a few scattered showers in the morning, but it cleared up and was very nice. We shopped a little in the morning, and then did a gold panning and salmon bake excursion around noon. This was really fun. Our guide, Jack, took us on a narrated guide through town, and then up into the hills. They take you to a stream and give you detailed instructions on how to pan for gold. Everyone found some gold on our trip. Afterwards they took us to the outdoor salmon bake. This was a really nice area with covered eating tables and buffet style food. The salmon was great, as were the beans and corn bread. Afterward there is a nature trail you can take down to a waterfall area. During the salmons season they said you can also see salmon in the streams. After lunch, they shuttled us back to the shopping district in Juneau. We picked up a few souvenirs and my wife found a very nice ring for her anniversary. I will get into some comments on the Carnival shopping later.Our third port was Skagway. My wife and I both liked this town the best. It was just a nice place. We had a dogsled mushing camp excursion that morning. It was overcast most of the morning, but did not rain until after lunch. We both really liked this excursion. You travel about 30 minutes from town until you get to the camp. You get into a six-person cart, which is very comfortable, and a team of dogs pulls you for about a mile. It was a fast fun ride. Afterward they take you down to the camp, and you get to talk to a musher who owns the dogs. Our guy spoke about his experience on the Iditarod. We got to pet the dogs and spend some time in the camp. We also got to hold and pet the six-week-old pups that were soooo cute. After our excursion, we were dropped off in Sitka. We had lunch at a restaurant called Northern Lights, which is right off 3rd street. The food very good. Afterward we went shopping around town. They have a lot of locally owned shops with Alaskan goods. We didn't buy anything unless we knew it was make in Alaska. Again, lots of sales everywhere. It's a good little walk back to the ship from town. We opted to take the shuttle for $1.50. Our last port was Ketchikan. We had sunny skies for most of the day here with a few showers late in the afternoon. There seemed to be many more stores and more of a commercial feel than any of the other ports. We went on the Saxman Native Village and lumberjack show tour. The native village tour was interesting and the totems were impressive. You get background on the native people and also get to see how they make the totems, as well as the history on their meanings. Afterward they dropped us at the lumberjack show. They make this a really fun show and have all of the events just like you see on television. The seating area is covered and cushioned, and they have heaters blowing on the crowd as well. After the show we did some more shopping and then headed back to the boat. Our last day was at sea was cruising the inside passage. It was bright and sunny the entire day. The scenery was really nice. We did see some hump back whales and I believe there were porpoises. It was just a nice day to spend out on the deck looking at the scenery go by. We spent most of the day doing activities on the boat such as the galley tour, towel animal folding, and trivia contests. We were docked around 7am on the last day. We had booked transfers to Seattle airport through Carnival. I highly recommend this if you are flying out of Seattle and booking your own air, like we did. They preloaded all of our luggage onto the bus, so we didn't have to worry about that. They called our number to disembark, and we were on our bus within 15 minutes. The trip was 3-3.5 hours long including a 20-minute stop at the border crossing. When we arrived at SEATAC they unloaded our bags and we picked them up. We were actually flying out the following day so I called our hotel, Courtyard Marriot SeaTac, and they picked us up. This is a nice hotel, which offers free shuttles within 5 miles of the hotel. Now to some of the issues. We attended the shopping talk put on by the Carnival shopping specialist. This little dude just talked and talked about how jewelry was the best buy in Alaska. They made sure to give us plenty of maps and info on all their "recommended" jewelry stores. Now we were told they gave best prices to Carnival Spirit customers and gave us a discount card to take into the store. We went into Tanzanite International in Juneau right after we got off the boat. My wife found a nice ring and we told the sales lady that we were on the Carnival Spirit. She mentioned our sales specialist by name and said she would give us the best price. She offered us about 50% off retail from, $2,200 down to $1,100 for the ring. I told her thank you and this was our first store we had been in, so we would keep looking. She calls her manager over, who then offers me another price of $850. I again told him no, and proceeded to head out the door. He then came back with a lower price of $695 for the ring. Well this kind of got me upset. One thing I hate dealing with used car salesmen (no offense), and I felt like the whole processed was tainted. I mean if you are to give me this good price because of my Carnival sales specialist and go to a recommended store I expect to get a good price up front and not have to haggle with people like this. I did leave the store at that time without purchasing the ring. We looked at several other stores, as well as the Diamonds International store. It was actually worse than the first store. The guy tried to put a guilt trip on me for not buying my wife a ring at his store. Every time he quoted me a price on a piece of jewelry he would say, "but I can do better". Well dude then give me your better price to begin with. We did get her a ring for her anniversary, so all is well that ends well. I just wanted others to know that they need to be careful about these recommended stores and never ever take the first price offered as their "best price". It had been ten years since our last Carnival experience, so I would have to say that things have changed a little. The first night was open seating in the Empire dinning room. You just went in and sat wherever you wanted. We had early seating and found this to fit our schedule much better. I guess they did open seating the first night because the ship departs so late, around 10pm. The next night we went to our assigned seats and met a couple from North Carolina. They were really good tablemates and we had a good discussion every night about the days activities. Our waiter was nice, but not very personal. We saw the Matride one time the entire trip when he stopped by to say hello. The food was good, not great in the main dinning room. My wife ate steak most of the nights. I tried to adventure out with fish and some other dishes. One night I ordered pan fried red snapper and was served some type of broiled white fish in a lemon sauce. I asked the waiter what it was, because it was not what I had ordered. He just looked at me and said that's what I got and make no apologies. The warm chocolate melting cake was wonderful, and I found that I had to have it every night. We did eat in the Noveau Supper Club one night for our anniversary. I will have to say that it was an exceptional meal and service, and well worth the $30 cost. The service and attention to detail was outstanding.I think we went to every show and late night show. They were all very good. I liked the Spirit Dancers, and thought they did very well. The music was top notch with a nice live band. The comedians were pretty good also. There was a guy who did magic and comedy who I really liked. The cruise director, Chris, was energetic and really added to the experience on the ship. Kirk was the assistant director, and I thought did an outstanding job as well. You could really tell everyone got along well and things flowed nicely. There were always activities, trivia contests, ice carving, bingo, etc on the ship. We did go in the casinos a few times to play slots. I also highly recommend the coffee bar right outside of the Pharos on the 2nd floor. They have ice cream, shakes, sweets, coffee, etc., at a low price. If you like beer, the Alaskan Amber is served on the ship. It was very smooth with a nice taste. Here's a link to some of the pictures that we took. Once you enter the album if you click on the detail view it gives a description of each image. http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0CZsmLhszZsXTw&emid=sharshar&linkid=link5darin2@windstream.net
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