More of a circus then carnival: Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by REGIONORACLE

Carnival Spirit 4
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

More of a circus then carnival

Sail Date: January 2012
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: San Diego
Ok, my only cruising experience before this was 20 years ago on the old norway so i dont have a lot of foundation to compare this trip to. The upsetting things to me, would probably be far more upsetting to those of you that have more experience on cruise lines.

And the truth is I'm coming from this from a different perspective then many readers. So a little background. im a single 42 year old guy whos aging mother is now retired and wants to see the world but has no one to take her. So she drafted me for this cruise when one of her friends became ill and couldn't join her.

For me, the good outwieghed the bad. And we'll get to the good in a bit. But the bad was downright maddening as it seems carnival inflicted most of its problems upon itself.

first, Embarkation in San Diego was rediculous. The Spirit had just come out of drydock (new flat screen tvs, a rebuilt bar on the back end of the lido deck, and some fitness equip upgrades) and arrived in San Diego More completly unprepared for a 15 day cruise to Hawaii. So first, i had to stand for 4 hours on the pier waiting for Carnival to let us board as there were nowhere near enough chairs available. Then Stu the Cruise Director kept promising over and over again, we should be leaving shortly. Now for me, i was just waiting for the casino to open and otherwise didnt mind. Heck, San Diego is far better in January then Northwest Indiana so i was content. But my mother, who by the way has some health issues herself including a bad back made worse by all the waiting around, was downright angry about missing the ocean view of the sunset against the mountains.

Eventually, the very shortly in a few minutes arrived about 8 hours later we finally had our supplies on board and set sail around 11 pm, which was 12 hours after we were told to show up on the pier to board.

furthermore, this habit of Stu's promising things will be fixed very shortly or in just a few minutes, and then in acutality the time taking several hours, of even days, occurred over and over again. The bus for our lua excursion to paradise cove was stuck in traffic. Two hours later it showed up and we arrived as the food was already being served. The new water slide was going to be ready by day two of the cruise. Well im here in my Indiana home now, and the slide still aint ready.

My only other real complaint was the quality of food, mainly in the empire dining room (oh that and they failed to give us the dining time that was requested 7 months ago) not that it was all bad, the chefs do shrimp for example as well as anyone. But for God's sake a New York steak? how can anyone screw that up? They found a way. Prime rib was good filet mignon so so, overall the main dining hall was hit or miss depending on the dish. Also id stay away from the scrambled eggs on the lido deck. Both of us had minor nausea issues at different times that we think could be attributed to those eggs.

That said heres the good. The Carnival sponsored excursions to kilaueaua and haleakauma are awesome (if ya dont mind a harrowing mountain ride or two that is) and snorkeling in kona is a must do. even paradise cove was cool once we finally got there. The staff was quite friendly and eager to care for any guest needs. While most of the shows were run of the mill (but funny)comics or dance events, the main one called the big easy was a surprisingly good spectacle with absolutely amazing transitions between scenes and dance numbers.

Now the thing i was most pleased with on this ship wont be of interest to some of you. but with 5 sea days to Hawaii and back, it was perhaps the most important thing for me personally. The on board casino on the spirit was run like casinos in the mainland used to be run. With good live music every night. With waitresses (especially in the evening) that were always friendly and quick to refill your free after 1500 point alcohol beverages. And casino hosts that actually spent time mingling with the players and sent wine or the chocolate strawberries to room complimentary (excluding the losses of course) Dont misunderstand, the slots could be looser. But several did hit some pretty large payouts and overall the slot play was nearly the same as in the states. And most of the dealers were very outgoing and friendly with one or two exceptions.

Being a longer cruise while school is in session on the mainland there seemed to be an inordianate number of retirees on board. I guess adults with school aged kids couldnt get away long enough for the troop. So if carnival continues this cruise in future years, anyone thinking of taking kids along may want to consider they wont have too many of their own age to spend time with. And be prepared to be blindsided by an out of controll scooter a few times

The ship was kept very clean. While there was no organized theme to the appearance the variations of gaudiness lent themselves to an enjoyable atmosphere and loose time. And while stu wasnt very good at telling the truth about problems encountered along the cruise, he and his assistant gayve did have a quirky sense of humor that i appreciated and ingratiated me to them. My older mother however didnt share my appreciation for there brand of humor. Sort of a leno verses lettermen difference i guess. dinner may not have always tasted perfect, but the various dance numbers put on by the waiters made sure it was never boring. Oh, and the best talent on the ship was a waiter and aspiring singer named stuart from the philapines. Someone needs to discover that guy.

Mom is trying to talk me into joining her for a cruise again to alaska in August. Ill probably go if i dont use up the rest of my vacation at work by then. Will it be Carnival? Honestly it probably depends on what the vip casino membership I just gained will get us. But Carnival did just enough to overcome the difficulties to at least make them a consideration for us.

Hope this helps somebody out there. Happy cruising. Less

Published 02/05/12

Cabin review: 8J7203 Extended Balcony

7203 balcony was excellent bathroom decent sized for a cruise ship plenty of closet space, drawer space limited. drawers in couch were difficult to pull out. beds were very comfortable but if your over 6 foot 1 or so your feet will be hanging off the edge. tv channels varied in audio greatly making it annoying to try to find an actual tv station amongst all the cruise company sales pitches. expect annoy your partner several times if ya like to channel surf in bed. almost no outside noise heard inside the cabin, but on the balcony sound did seem to travel a bit to easily between neighboring cabins.

Read All Extended Balcony (8J) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

the volcano bus excursion was very interesting with lots of historacle island info thrown in. the only reason to not take this tour would be if your going up to haleakala on oahu later in the trip. some of the information is repeated there but the views from the different volcanos are dramatically different. the big islands volcano, the one youve all heard of but i cant begin to pretend to spell (sounds like killawayuh) has fresh grand lava fields and your takin literally within steps of a continuing huge gas expulsion.
Read 445 Hilo Reviews

we chose to go on the halakela crater tour. what can i say were geology nuts. Warning. the road up the mountain is as harrowing as any you will ever be on. and being on a 60 foot long bus makes ya feel even less safe. but if ya survive the ascent you will be taken to one of the most jaw dropping landscapes you will ever see 9700 feet above sea level. so high up you can see the big island from its peak at over 110 miles away. and the crater, which is as big as you can imagine with its steep cliffs and completly baron landscape is one you wouldnt imagine is possible from such a garden paradise. only regret is the drive takes a few hours, and if ya only have one port day on oahu can keep ya from doing lots of other things.
Read 506 Honolulu Reviews

ok my opinion may not count here. wiped out from 4 days of excursions we mainly spent our time in hilo hatties and walmart restocking our provisions for the journey home. best observation i can share is whomever the politician was that promised a chicken in every pot surely had this place in his mind when he said it.
Read 409 Kauai Reviews

We snorkeled on this day. but the best part was the boat ride to the snorkeling sight. along the way we saw two mantarays feeding on the top of the water, about 50 small spinner dolphins that took a interest in our zodiac to circle us fo about 20 minutes. a pair of humpbacks that seemed to be following us for awhile. and a few bottlenosed that played in our wake for a bit. in all honesty the snorkeling was a bit anti climatic after all of that. not near as much diversity as i saw in the carribean 20 years ago. but lots of jacks, a moray eel, and some parrotfish, that i had never encountered in the wild before topped off the afternoon nicely.
Read 294 Kona Reviews

a truly amazingly wonderous place. the beauty of the plant life is indescribeable to those that havent been there.
Read 479 Maui Reviews
Read more Carnival Spirit cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic’s Carnival Spirit Review >>
Member Since 2012
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
Value for Money