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I want to relate on what a great cruise we had when at one point just a few years ago, we were unsure if we would ever be able to take extended vacations again due to my 6 y/o's epilepsy and autistic conditions. I originally booked through the travel agency through USAA, but then found out about a program geared toward travelers like my son called Autism on the Seas. They can be reached at www.autismontheseas.com. Through this program, they took care of everything including priority embarkation, private muster drill away from the large crowds, private dining table in a quiet corner of the dining room, coordination with the ships medical staff regarding the condition and camp carnival. We arrived a day early into San Diego and settled into our favorite hotel, Best Western Island Palms, which is located on quiet Shelter Island. We were able to do the snooze and cruise package and took the hotel shuttle to the ship at 11:30am. 15 minutes later we got in the handicapped area and were immediately assigned a person to take us through the line. As our son is autistic, he is not the best in handling long lines. We were able to get to the front of the line and then we were handed off to another Carnival employee who got us our pictures taken and then escorted on to the ship. Once onboard, we met with a woman (Alena) from guest services who was aware we were coming. She gave us a private safety drill and took us to our muster station and then guided us to our room. We were in our room by 12:30. We met our room steward (Xiomara) who was very friendly and related our requests (extra bathrobe, ice, clearing out the refrigerator, etc) and she gave us her phone number and times she would be available. I gave her a prepaid Amex card as a tip upfront. We then went to the Lido deck and grabbed lunch on the pool deck. There was a 2 peice raggai band playing and they were good. We then went to Camp Carnival at the front of deck 5 to get our son checked in to the program. We met Leeann from South Africa who was the director. My son gave her a hug and kiss right away. They were already aware of his condition thanks to the communications beforehand by Autism on the Seas. Even though he was 6, our son was able to be with the 2-5 kids there. We were also issued an onboard cell phone to use while onboard. That way they could communicate with us if anything was wrong and also we were able to use this anywhere in the ship to keep tabs on each other. It was nice to not have to use walkie talkies even though we had brought them. We had the early seating at the Empire Dining Room. We were greeted by the Maitre D who showed us to our area in the back corner of the dining room next to a large window. This was nice as our son can get noisy at restaurants, but the secluded location was also calming for him too. We were intorduced to our dining staff of Nina (Bulgaria) and Jasmina(Macedonia) who were some of the kindest and detailed people I have ever met. They knew that we had a special needs child onboard and treated him like a king. They had his meal already set up (chicken fingers and french fries). They were very good at what they did in that the women at the table were greeted first and orders taken and then the men. The ordering was always done over the shoulder and not across the table. The meal choices were very tasty and I ordered double portions on 2 evenings. We were also able to have our unfinished bottle of wine held over to the next night. The following day, our son became sea sick from the motion of the ship. I ran into Nina who was serving lunch and she asked me about our son by name and I told her that he was sea sick. She said that apple sauce is a good cure and that's what the crew eats when queasy. She said that apple sauce was not on the menu, but would have the kitchen specially prepare it for our son each meal. That was the trick as he did great from then on. This was the first time that I had ever gone with a balcony stateroom and when I was offered an upgrade due to trying to get my fare repriced (fare on our cabin had dropped quite a bit), I was offered a catagory 8k extended balcony. Unfortunately, that was under the Lido deck so I initially passed and then I checked Carnival's site again to see what cabins were available for upgrade. On the Spirit class ships, there are about 5-6 cabins on the port side that have a storeroom for the cabin stewards next to them. As a result, there is no stateroom there and the resultant balcony space behind the storeroom is available for the 2 adjoining rooms. My balcony was approximately 30 feet long by 6 feet wide. We had 2 lounge chairs, 3 regular chairs and 2 tables. That is the most you can have without getting a suite. We spent a lot of time out there. I brought some bungee cords to hold the door open when we were out there. (Just don't open the inside door at the same time as you will develop a wind tunnel). Before our trip, I contacted John Heald, who is the senior cruise director for Carnival. I asked him if he could arrange a special photo op for our son and some of the ship's officers. Our son loves people in uniform and that would be a cherished event for him. John quickly agreed and set that in motion. Our first day onboard, we received a phone call from guest services that the Captain wanted to meet with our son and gave us some times that evening he would be available on the atrium deck. We got a great picture of the Captain, Hotel Director, and our son. The Captain related that he had seen other autistic kids really light up with that kind of encounter and he wanted to do this. The Hotel Director later told me that the ship wanted to do something special for our son and had me take my camera card to the photo lab and they would print out the pics we had taken with the Captain and Fun Ship Freddy and had them blown up to 8x10 and signed and presented to us in leather portfolios along with a large Fun Ship Freddy stuffed animal signed by each of the counselors at Camp Carnival. We had 2 days in Cabo and did the Exclusive Beach Resort the first day and I went scuba diving the second. They have a great dolphin program that we will do next time. It was crowded in town as we had a NCL ship along with the Splendor also moored along side of us. The entertainment was superb. I really enjoyed the show band who had a lot of power and was very musically adept. The dancers sometimes seemed out of sync, but we were really impressed by the band and singers. The adult comedy onboard was very funny. The Versailles lounge was always crowded. I did the Fun Behind the Scenes tour on the last sea day. A little pricey at first, but well worth the money. Our guide Melita, was a a staff trainer so she had extensive knowledge of all areas of the ship. The tour was highlighted by visits to the engineering control room and the bridge with a personalized picture with the Captain standing at the helm. I was disappointed (only bad thing on this ship) with the condition of some of the fitness machines. Several of the cardio machines were missing parts or needed other repairs. We were set to be docked by 7 am on Friday morning, and I arose early at 5am to watch us pull in. I noticed that we had turned to the left and were now going at high speed. I switched on the channel on the tv that shows the position and track and saw that we were now heading at 20kts going due west into deep water. That told me that there was an emergency going on (another ship in distress or a tsunami). I turned on CNN and saw the devastation in Japan and the warnings for the West Coast of the US. The best place to be in a tsunami is in deep water. The Captain did not make his first announcement until 6:30 and made regular announcements thereafter along with the CD to assure us that we were not in any danger and inviting us to relax and we could stay in our state rooms instead of packing out for debarkation. They played a movie in the Versailles Lounge and put CNN on in the main theatre.

Best Vacation Ever!!

Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by copref

Trip Details
I want to relate on what a great cruise we had when at one point just a few years ago, we were unsure if we would ever be able to take extended vacations again due to my 6 y/o's epilepsy and autistic conditions.



I originally booked through the travel agency through USAA, but then found out about a program geared toward travelers like my son called Autism on the Seas. They can be reached at www.autismontheseas.com. Through this program, they took care of everything including priority embarkation, private muster drill away from the large crowds, private dining table in a quiet corner of the dining room, coordination with the ships medical staff regarding the condition and camp carnival.



We arrived a day early into San Diego and settled into our favorite hotel, Best Western Island Palms, which is located on quiet Shelter Island. We were able to do the snooze and cruise package and took the hotel shuttle to the ship at 11:30am. 15 minutes later we got in the handicapped area and were immediately assigned a person to take us through the line. As our son is autistic, he is not the best in handling long lines. We were able to get to the front of the line and then we were handed off to another Carnival employee who got us our pictures taken and then escorted on to the ship. Once onboard, we met with a woman (Alena) from guest services who was aware we were coming. She gave us a private safety drill and took us to our muster station and then guided us to our room. We were in our room by 12:30.



We met our room steward (Xiomara) who was very friendly and related our requests (extra bathrobe, ice, clearing out the refrigerator, etc) and she gave us her phone number and times she would be available. I gave her a prepaid Amex card as a tip upfront.



We then went to the Lido deck and grabbed lunch on the pool deck. There was a 2 peice raggai band playing and they were good.



We then went to Camp Carnival at the front of deck 5 to get our son checked in to the program. We met Leeann from South Africa who was the director. My son gave her a hug and kiss right away. They were already aware of his condition thanks to the communications beforehand by Autism on the Seas. Even though he was 6, our son was able to be with the 2-5 kids there. We were also issued an onboard cell phone to use while onboard. That way they could communicate with us if anything was wrong and also we were able to use this anywhere in the ship to keep tabs on each other. It was nice to not have to use walkie talkies even though we had brought them.



We had the early seating at the Empire Dining Room. We were greeted by the Maitre D who showed us to our area in the back corner of the dining room next to a large window. This was nice as our son can get noisy at restaurants, but the secluded location was also calming for him too. We were intorduced to our dining staff of Nina (Bulgaria) and Jasmina(Macedonia) who were some of the kindest and detailed people I have ever met. They knew that we had a special needs child onboard and treated him like a king. They had his meal already set up (chicken fingers and french fries). They were very good at what they did in that the women at the table were greeted first and orders taken and then the men. The ordering was always done over the shoulder and not across the table.

The meal choices were very tasty and I ordered double portions on 2 evenings. We were also able to have our unfinished bottle of wine held over to the next night.



The following day, our son became sea sick from the motion of the ship. I ran into Nina who was serving lunch and she asked me about our son by name and I told her that he was sea sick. She said that apple sauce is a good cure and that's what the crew eats when queasy. She said that apple sauce was not on the menu, but would have the kitchen specially prepare it for our son each meal. That was the trick as he did great from then on.



This was the first time that I had ever gone with a balcony stateroom and when I was offered an upgrade due to trying to get my fare repriced (fare on our cabin had dropped quite a bit), I was offered a catagory 8k extended balcony. Unfortunately, that was under the Lido deck so I initially passed and then I checked Carnival's site again to see what cabins were available for upgrade. On the Spirit class ships, there are about 5-6 cabins on the port side that have a storeroom for the cabin stewards next to them. As a result, there is no stateroom there and the resultant balcony space behind the storeroom is available for the 2 adjoining rooms. My balcony was approximately 30 feet long by 6 feet wide. We had 2 lounge chairs, 3 regular chairs and 2 tables. That is the most you can have without getting a suite. We spent a lot of time out there. I brought some bungee cords to hold the door open when we were out there. (Just don't open the inside door at the same time as you will develop a wind tunnel).



Before our trip, I contacted John Heald, who is the senior cruise director for Carnival. I asked him if he could arrange a special photo op for our son and some of the ship's officers. Our son loves people in uniform and that would be a cherished event for him. John quickly agreed and set that in motion. Our first day onboard, we received a phone call from guest services that the Captain wanted to meet with our son and gave us some times that evening he would be available on the atrium deck. We got a great picture of the Captain, Hotel Director, and our son. The Captain related that he had seen other autistic kids really light up with that kind of encounter and he wanted to do this. The Hotel Director later told me that the ship wanted to do something special for our son and had me take my camera card to the photo lab and they would print out the pics we had taken with the Captain and Fun Ship Freddy and had them blown up to 8x10 and signed and presented to us in leather portfolios along with a large Fun Ship Freddy stuffed animal signed by each of the counselors at Camp Carnival.



We had 2 days in Cabo and did the Exclusive Beach Resort the first day and I went scuba diving the second. They have a great dolphin program that we will do next time. It was crowded in town as we had a NCL ship along with the Splendor also moored along side of us.



The entertainment was superb. I really enjoyed the show band who had a lot of power and was very musically adept. The dancers sometimes seemed out of sync, but we were really impressed by the band and singers. The adult comedy onboard was very funny. The Versailles lounge was always crowded.



I did the Fun Behind the Scenes tour on the last sea day. A little pricey at first, but well worth the money. Our guide Melita, was a a staff trainer so she had extensive knowledge of all areas of the ship. The tour was highlighted by visits to the engineering control room and the bridge with a personalized picture with the Captain standing at the helm.



I was disappointed (only bad thing on this ship) with the condition of some of the fitness machines. Several of the cardio machines were missing parts or needed other repairs.



We were set to be docked by 7 am on Friday morning, and I arose early at 5am to watch us pull in. I noticed that we had turned to the left and were now going at high speed. I switched on the channel on the tv that shows the position and track and saw that we were now heading at 20kts going due west into deep water. That told me that there was an emergency going on (another ship in distress or a tsunami). I turned on CNN and saw the devastation in Japan and the warnings for the West Coast of the US. The best place to be in a tsunami is in deep water. The Captain did not make his first announcement until 6:30 and made regular announcements thereafter along with the CD to assure us that we were not in any danger and inviting us to relax and we could stay in our state rooms instead of packing out for debarkation. They played a movie in the Versailles Lounge and put CNN on in the main theatre.
copref’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
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Ages 3 to 6
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Cabin 6232
Extremely large balcony, great location amidships.
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