Good Bargain but Not the Best: Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by David X

Carnival Spirit 3
David X
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

Good Bargain but Not the Best

Sail Date: November 2011
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
This was our third cruise on the Spirit (5th overall). Why Spirit? Because it is inexpensive and has a good itinerary. Otherwise, the ship experience itself is just ok. We were in three cabins (Wife and I in balcony, In-laws in a second balcony, and grown daughter and friend in an inside). The price was so good, it made for a very affordable vacation.

THE SHIP. The ship is fine. All the of the public spaces are nice enough and a nice dining room. It has a fun water slide and mini-golf. Otherwise, there is nothing in particular to note. There is plenty of open deck space if you like to walk or jog.

CABINS. Inside cabins feel spacious. Balcony cabins are well laid out. On the negative, smoking is allowed on balconies and if you are a non-smoker this can be a big negative if you have smokers below or beside you (as happened on our second cruise). Not as clean as it should be but ok. Too many dirty room service dishes in the hallway.

FOOD. Notable decline over the More last few years. Some was quite good, but many items were 'disappointing'. Afternoon Tea is disorganized (this is consistently the case). You feel like cattle. Buffet was fine. Lunch in the dining room is my favorite meal. It is quiet and the staff is in a good mood.

STAFF. I have noticed a decline in moral of the crew also, especially in the dining room since the last cruise in 2010.

ENTERTAINMENT. Listening to the cruise director on the speakers gets a little old after a couple of days. I don't need to hear about all the items on sale. I hate the shows in the main theatre. The comedians in the lounge are usually pretty good.

EMBARK/DISEMBARK. Moves slow, but not too bad. On and off ship at ports is also fine with some lines.

PORTS. (Ensenada, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo). To me, that is as much the reason for the cruise as anything. The ports were changed a couple months before sailing. I think it was due to problems in Mazatlan. If you are from California, you know that Ensenada is nothing to get excited about. It isn't even the Mexican Riviera. Shopping isn't very good. Some like to party. I like to get out of town. We really enjoy the Winery Tour. I've been on it twice. The wine isn't very good, but it is a pleasant excursion at a good price. Cabo San Lucas is mostly beaches and party. At minimum, do the Glass Bottom Boat to Lovers and Divorce Beach. Puerto Vallarta we did the Tequila Tour and enjoyed it very much, even though I don't even particularly like Tequila. Manzanillo is more tropical. One of the day trips to the interior will give you a good view of the real Mexico. Less

Published 03/15/12

Cabin review: 8F Balcony

Read All Balcony (8F) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

At the southern tip of Baja, Cabo is beaches, condos, party in a desert that ends where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez. This is a tourist town and you can tell as you are constantly solicited for tours, fishing, merchandise, restaurants, etc. Shore excursions tend to be unnecessarily expensive. Oddly enough, despite my "3" rating, I have had a good time both visits. I will focus on just the immediate area. If you are not into snorkeling, the submarine is a pricey, but very good one hour view of the colorful fish and a topside look the the rocks, sea lions, and such. Otherwise, if you want to see something, take a glass bottom boat out to Lovers Beach. If you are willing, it is not too difficult if you have a group to negotiate to about $7 per person. They will take you out to Los Arcos, the famous rocks, show you the sea lions, see fish in the glass bottom, and they will drop you off at the beach (can't really walk to it), and pick you up again whenever you want. Note that you need to be able to hop out of the boat into the water. The beach is nice and away from the hotels. Walk between the rocks to Divorce Beach also. This makes for a nice several hours. Along with a little shopping, for me, that's about it and I'm ready to go back to the ship.

Winery Tour

Since Ensenada itself is not very interesting, a half-day trip to somewhere is a good idea. If you've seen the blow hole (and maybe even if you haven't), take the Winery Tour. Take a bus for about 45 minutes inland and visit two wineries. At one you will get a tour. At both you will do tasting. The wine isn't really that good. But the L.A.Cetto Winery is pretty. I've been on it twice and it just makes for a pleasant few hours. And... it is inexpensive.

Pueblos Walking Tour

There is not much to see in Manzanillo itself. But, it is a great gateway to the interior. I have taken two tours to different towns and ruins. The countryside is green and very nice. And, you will get a good taste of the real Mexico.

Tequila Factory Walking Tour

I've been to Puerto Vallarta before and about the only thing I like the the malecon. Otherwise, the Tequila Factory Tour was fun, interesting, and a very good value. You make two stops. They are small operations that make 100% Agave Tequila. So, it is not a big factory or anything like that. So, it is pretty up close and personal. There is lots of tasting of quality Tequila. I would definitely recommend it just for that. The "Old Town Tour" part of it was really nothing but at stop at stores and a drop off.
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David X
Member Since 2010
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