Sail Date: April 2012
The Big Easy is a salute to New Orleans. I couldn't believe how much energy the performers brought to the stage and the production values that are invested in the show: pyrotechnics, dynamic lighting, multiple sets and costumes. The ... Read More
The Big Easy is a salute to New Orleans. I couldn't believe how much energy the performers brought to the stage and the production values that are invested in the show: pyrotechnics, dynamic lighting, multiple sets and costumes. The ten-piece band is even blocked into some of the scenes and everyone has a rollicking good time. You've got to see the "House of the Rising Sun" scene with it's dancing bats, explosions, and aerial vocals. The jazz show band: piano, drums, bass, guitar, trombone, two trumpets, and three saxes, give a memorable performance whether in the pit, on stage, or in the lounges when the theater is dark. There's even an opportunity for karaoke cruisers to sing with the band. The Nouveau Steakhouse is worth every bit of the $30 surcharge. Climb a glass staircase above the grand atrium and you enter the dining room below a glass-paneled ceiling at the top of the ship. It's the most exclusive space on board. The food is not cooked before you sit down and the service is impeccable. They've added an adults-only pool area at the back of the Lido deck with basket-weave cabanas. There are two new water slides, one that launches you vertically by dropping the floor away. The cruise director, Stu Dunn, is a hoot. He is a fountain of funny stories and a master at finding new ways and reinvigorating old ways for cruisers to have fun on board. We took a Mexican Riviera cruise: Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and Ensenada, but the Spirit is relocating to Australia. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
My husband and I live in San Diego and thought this 5 day trip to Cabo would be great and super convenient...and it was! We left on Sunday and arrived for embark at 2:00 pm. We were scheduled to leave at 4:00 pm. The process went very ... Read More
My husband and I live in San Diego and thought this 5 day trip to Cabo would be great and super convenient...and it was! We left on Sunday and arrived for embark at 2:00 pm. We were scheduled to leave at 4:00 pm. The process went very smooth, couldn't have been more than 20 mins max. We had our docs and passport in hand and went right to the check in then on to the ship. Our room was ready and very clean. We loved our steward. He took care of every need we had in a jiffy as well. Each day he would address us by our first names and asked if there was anything we needed. Upon dropping off our bags we, of course, went to the buffet on the Lido deck. Was surprised at the amount of people. The food selection was just okay. I guess I'm spoiled from our others sailings. The selection varied from American, Chinese, Deli to Italian. Even desserts were just okay. Another problem we encountered was the seating. You had to walk from one end of the ship to the other to find a seat. It must have been the time we ate! The drinks served 24/7 are coffee, ice tea, and lemonade ( which was delicious!). We choose early sitting for the dining room. Sat with another couple although we had originally asked for a table of six (so we could mingle with other folks). We ended up liking our new friends however. The first activity we did was the off Road Mini Jeep Adventure. Took a 30 minute bus ride to a ranch which shared Carnival's horseback adventure. There they had goats, donkeys, tons of horses and a cute eating area. Our adventure included a helmet goggle and a scarf that was required for around your month area. The adventure was very exciting. We went to a dry lake area, sand dunes and the beach area. We got stalled twice but the crew lead came and rescued us. You caravan with six other dune buggies. We wanted to do something we've never done before and we did it! The second activity was the "sail and snorkel" adventure on a catamaran. Had another great time. The water was too cold for me-64 degrees, but my husband did it. Said it was very cold but the view of the topical fish made up for it. This is definitely a booze-cruise. Would not advise children to go aboard this. The crew members have booze going 24/7 and were pushing the shots of tequila before the snorkel and after the snorkel. Everyone, I mean everyone was dancing and laughing by the time the adventure was over. It was free booze and the crew members were depending on a heavy tip when you left the boat. The shows were good, especially the last one - The Big Easy. Talented dancers. I Wouldn't miss it. The slots in the casinos are tight, tight, tight. Don't waste your money. We played the electronic poker machine and found it interesting. Had many people waiting to play. The cruise director, Stu, was very nice and wanted to insure all had a good time. When you get into Cabo don't buy anything until you walked clear around the harbor area. We find better bargains as you wait further around. Anyone of the restaurants around the harbor had great food so choose. The main thing I really got tired of is the photographers. They are everywhere and what you pictures taken during the most inconvenient time, ESPECIALLY while you are eating. We participated in just about every activity from bingo to karaoke, from trivia to ping pong. You do need to be involved to have fun. The Green Monster water tube was the big hit on the ship. There was a loooong waiting line to get on it. The gym had state of the art equipment and the cool thing is to use the jacuzzi that is for adults only in the middle of the gym. It was fabulous-no kids. The jacuzzi outside on the deck was full of kids 24/7. Even after dark. Another nice thing was the adults only section at the end of the sip. Yes, It was a very quiet space. All in all, the cruise was okay, but would think twice about going Carnival again. It's very average, while there are more cruise lines that are better. We will be going on NCL in December. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We just returned from a 15 day cruise on the Spirit to Hawaii and as expected, had a great time! Carnival continues to live up to its reputation by offering a great cruising experience at a reasonable price. Embarkation/Debarkation ... Read More
We just returned from a 15 day cruise on the Spirit to Hawaii and as expected, had a great time! Carnival continues to live up to its reputation by offering a great cruising experience at a reasonable price. Embarkation/Debarkation No complaints in this category. It is important to be patient and understanding because the cruise line is trying to load/unload over 2,100 passengers and their luggage in a short period of time. In addition, the ship is taking on fuel, water, food, supplies, etc. How this is all choreographed and completed in a relatively short timeframe is beyond comprehension. One observation and recommendation: During embarkation in San Diego it was raining. We noticed that some of the luggage was left on the pier in the rain without being covered. Some of the metal racks that held the luggage when being transported by forklifts were covered, however, the majority appeared to be left open to the elements. We commented to each other that since we had arrived early and that our luggage was placed on the pier (not covered) that it would probably be wet. We were right, when we got our luggage it was soaked as were the contents. Oh well, we laid out the clothes and they were dry by the next morning. Cannot control Mother Nature, however, the ground crew should have enough rain covers to cover all luggage being stored/transported in inclement weather. Carnival Spirit This is a beautiful ship even though it is now 11 years old. It is easy to navigate through and has enough "common areas" so it never seemed to be crowded. We both commented on how "clean" the ship was. Maintenance staff were always cleaning/painting/varnishing, etc. something throughout the entire cruise. Carnival gets an A+ in this category. Carnival Staff I could write several pages about the wonderful staff members we met on this cruise. As we experienced on another Carnival cruise (Carnival Conquest to the Eastern Caribbean), the staff are very friendly and professional. However, I need to recognize a couple of people who really made the cruise a memorable experience. Captain Volpi did an excellent job in making you feel like part of the Carnival family. We enjoyed his daily noon "briefings" and his good sense of humor. The weather on this trip was somewhat less than perfect (large swells and high winds for several days) and we also had a couple of notable incidents during this cruise (successful rescue of a customer falling overboard and a medical emergency that required the ship to be diverted). Captain Volpi handled these emergencies in the most professional manner. I hope that Carnival Cruise Lines recognizes Captain Volpi for the successful rescue as I am sure that the outcome would have been different if it had not been for his experience and expertise as a ship captain. He is an exceptional communicator as he kept everyone informed about the weather and possible delays. Captain Volpi made it a point to meet as many people as possible and frequently was seeing walking the decks and common areas greeting people. He was always eager to answer questions. He is truly an exceptional person and we feel lucky to have met such a gracious and wonderful person on this trip. You could see the respect towards Captain Volpi that was exhibited by other crew and staff members. We understand that he will be retiring later this year. We are going to miss the way he signed off during his daily briefings with: "and as always, arrivederci". We would also be remiss for not recognizing the cruise director "Stu". He is EXCELLENT and made the cruise a lot of fun. Carnival is known as the Funship cruise line, well, Stu certainly made this the case, especially when we were thrown so many poor weather days. Stu's energy is contagious. We are also going to miss the preface to every announcement he would make over the public address system with either "Aloha or g'day". The assistant cruise director (and we cannot remember his name, sorry) and Stu made a great pair and worked very well together. The assistant cruise director is also very energetic and funny and made the cruise enjoyable. All of the staff were friendly and professional. We would like to especially recognize a couple of staff members who went above and beyond. Ivalina, our head room steward, went out of her way to make sure that my wife was OK during the first couple of days out to sea as she was suffering from seasickness. She showed genuine concern and frequently checked on her to make sure that she was OK. We don't know how Ivalina and her staff did it but they always kept our room and bathroom clean throughout the day. The ice container was never empty. We heard from other passengers nearby that they also received the same outstanding service. Finally, I need to also recognize our Empire Dining Room Staff. They addressed us by our names from day one and made us feel welcome (Table 194). They possessed the skills of wait staff that you would expect to find in a 5 star restaurant. Their names are: Christian (team head waiter), Surintorn (team waitress) and Didiet (assistant team waiter). We hope we got their names and titles right, please accept our apologies if not. Carnival Cruise Lines: We hope that you recognize these fine individuals. Food/Dining We found the food in the main dining room to be excellent, contrary to some other reviews we have read. The selection/variety/quality/presentation was outstanding. We would not change anything. The buffets were good and we did not have any complaints. We enjoyed the daily variety. Stateroom No complaints here. We had an extended balcony and used it frequently for "quiet time" (although we often had to wear jackets when sitting on the balcony). Everything worked well in the room and the climate control was excellent. Space was adequate for two (2) people. It is definitely worth the extra money to have your own personal balcony, especially on extended cruises. We were on Deck 8 and did not have too much noise from the Lido deck above us except for an occasional jogger or a heavy cart being moved, however, the sounds were muffled and not a problem. Entertainment Very good to outstanding! We heard a couple of complaints from people about there not being enough entertainment on this cruise. We disagree! There was always some type of live music being played around the ship in the evening. The main theatrical performances were excellent! Broadway quality. The band was outstanding! We particularly enjoyed the Jazz Band that played several times just outside the entrance to the Empire Dining Room. Because of the rough seas, some of the performances had to be modified and/or moved to different days. One night, the dancers were not able to perform due to large sea swells. Carnival quickly modified the performance to ensure the safety of the performers.....it was outstanding! Whoever was in charge of putting this together at the last minute should be recognized. Tours We did four (4) tours on this cruise, however, the one that stands out is the tour out of Hilo to Mauna Kea. This is an absolute must for anyone who visits Hawaii. The tour guide was very knowledgable and had an interest in astronomy which was appropriate since we visited the Keck Observatory on top of Mauna Kea in addition to seeing the numerous other obsevatories in the summit area. The view was awesome since as we were close to 13,800 feet above sea level. There was even a small amount of snow remaining on the north facing slopes near the summit area. The transition from a tropical environment to an alpine setting was incredible. The view over to Mauna Loa and the ocean were really cool. This is a must do tour! Complaints None! (except for maybe our wet luggage, but we understand). As I have mentioned in another review, the photographers, drink waiters, bingo games, casino, arts and crafts, trivia games, etc.,etc. are there for you. If you do not want their services or want to participate in these activities, then don't! If you want to stay active there is certainly a lot for you to do. If you want to just relax and read a book, then you can do that also. If you want to eat 24/7 you can do that too! Overall Great cruise and a great value. We had a fantastic time and would do this cruise again. It was therapeutic to get away from work for a couple of weeks in addition to making several new friends. We booked another Carnival Cruise next March from New York to Long Beach via the Panama Canal and are counting the days. Good job Carnival.......Overall Grade: A+ Please recognize Captain Volpi (especially for the rescue at sea) and the others we mentioned. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
I never do this, but I flew into San Diego the morning of the cruise. I arrived at 10:15 AM. I was meeting my cousin who arrived in CA two days earlier. Because of the extremely low rates for this repositioning cruise, we each booked ... Read More
I never do this, but I flew into San Diego the morning of the cruise. I arrived at 10:15 AM. I was meeting my cousin who arrived in CA two days earlier. Because of the extremely low rates for this repositioning cruise, we each booked our own cabin. Originally we booked 4K interior with French doors, but due to price drops we were able to upgrade for very little cost to these adjoining balcony cabins on deck 7. I had cabin 7132 and he had cabin 7136. Embarkation was quick and easy. Luggage drop off was a bit confusing as there were no porters, just one cruise line person with a luggage cart that they were piling multiple passengers' luggage onto. We arrived at 12:45 and were one the ship at 1:10. Hopefully this is my last Carnival cruise "not VIP." Hallway doors were already open so we headed to our cabins. We ate some lunch and did the spa tour. We had prebooked massages plus there were great specials offered. I added "taste of spa" and my cousin added a seaweed wrap treatment. We met with Cruise Critic members (over 100 on our roll call) in the Atrium lobby at 3:00 pm. Following this was the muster drill (no life jackets required), then back to cabins to unpack. I am a "friend of a friend" of Dorothy so I went to the GLBT meeting, attended by about 10 people. Following this, we signed up for a private cocktail party (also Cruise Critic) in the Shanghai piano bar from 5:30 to 6:30, all you could drink for about $12 pp. We had Your Time Dining confirmed, so met with a couple of new friends and went to dinner where we got a table for 4. Dinner was very good in the MDR. Second night also ate in MDR with new friends, this time a group of 14. We went at 7:45 and were able to be seated within 10 minutes at two tables next to each other, one for 8 and one for 6. Pretty good for YTD with a big group, on a full ship!! Second night was also the one formal night on this short cruise. Third night we had booked the Steakhouse for 2, they were able to accommodate our request to increase to 4 the day of the reservation. Food was great! I had the NY strip, companions had other steaks and all were good and prepared to our liking. I also had escargot, the spinach salad, and the chocolate sampler. Meal was LONG, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Comments about services / entertainment we experienced: Gym: wonderful equipment and view. I used bike, treadmill, and the Nautilus weight machines. In my local gym I do a circuit of about 12 Nautilus machines. They had at least 8 of the same ones available in the gym. Spa: excellent services, I had my first hot stone massage ever. Very nice! Danelle did not try to hard sell me on all the products. Housekeeping staff: wonderful, we met him the first day and then did not see anyone again but they kept our cabins spotless and our ice buckets filled. Dining staff: excellent service and very quick with the YTD meal service both nights. Ate breakfast once in the MDR and also very good. Steakhouse already mentioned, and Lido deck buffet used for rest of meals was adequate. I really liked the deli sandwich station. Asian food was not as good as prior cruises. Did not make it to the free sushi. Room service: I used room service twice and service was very prompt and accurate. Can't beat free room service!! (tipped of course) Art auction: I attend the art auctions and sometimes I buy, sometimes I don't. It was a nice diversion on this Cruise to Nowhere. Casino: nice casino, not too smoky. Won a little, lost a little, it was fun. Entertainment: we went to the Welcome Aboard show the first night. It was just ok, both comedians did a brief standup. I did not go back to the comedians in the Comedy Club but they had a lot of different showtimes so it would be convenient to catch them. I went back for the show the third night but it was cancelled due to rough seas, and they showed a movie instead. Debarkation: our number was one of the last ones called but off the ship by 10:30. Collected luggage and had a cab give us a city tour on the way to the airport. Total time in cab about 1 hr 15 minutes and only cost $70 plus tip. We were lucky to have a knowledgeable cabbie who had lived in Vancouver for 20 years! I went on this cruise knowing it would be cold and windy with very little "outside" time due to weather. They did put the dome over the middle pool and all three pools were open. You could check out blankets as well as pool towels. I did not try the new waterslide but it looks scary. I would have to say the weather was worse than I expected. We moved along at a pretty fast clip. The seas were VERY rough although I don't think the waves looked that high. I did use my balcony for a few minutes at a time and was glad to have it for the view. There were barf bags posted next to all the elevators and I noticed that a lot of them were taken. I took meclezine but still got seasick on the second day. If I were taking this cruise again I would book a lower deck and at the middle to rear of the ship instead of forward. We had a lot of up and down as well as the usual side to side rocking of the ship. Overall this was a really fun getaway for a long weekend! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
My wife and I (56 & 55) recently returned from the 15-day, roundtrip cruise to Hawaii aboard the Carnival Spirit. It was the BEST cruise we've ever taken! Despite the cold and windy weather going to and from the islands, I ... Read More
My wife and I (56 & 55) recently returned from the 15-day, roundtrip cruise to Hawaii aboard the Carnival Spirit. It was the BEST cruise we've ever taken! Despite the cold and windy weather going to and from the islands, I can't think of anything at all to complain about. We flew from Cincinnati to San Diego two days prior to the cruise, mainly to allow for jet lag to settle in and to explore a city in which we've never been to. I booked a room at the Best Western Yacht Harbor via an online travel site (begins with a "P"). The hotel is located about 3 miles west of the cruise port in Point Loma. The room was great, complete with a marina-facing balcony that allowed us to watch the Navy and cruise ships pass by. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from both the airport and the cruise terminal. We took the cruise to the terminal at 8:45am on Friday, April 13th. Upon arrival, we found the lines of those waiting to board quite short. After checking in, we waited in the VIP area until around 10:45am to board. We immediately headed to the Lido deck for lunch. Our cabins were ready before 1:00pm. And all of our luggage was there as well! We had a 4K cabin with an obstructed view ( a lifeboat). The room was perfect for us despite the view out of the french doors. After standing in the rain for our Muster Drill, we finally set sail around 6:15pm. Not sure why the departure was delayed, but we were eating dinner in the diningroom when we finally began our fantastic voyage. The ship was a little difficult to get around, layout-wise. But we finally got the hang of it and loved it. The Promenade deck, shops and Atrium are located on decks 2 & 3, along with the diningroom. The first 2-3 days at sea enroute to Hawaii were rough, windy and cold. It was so windy that the upper decks were blocked off to passengers. The temperature hovered in the upper 50s to low 60s. On the third day at sea, a passenger jumped overboard from the Lido deck. The ship turned around and after about an hour or so rescued the gentleman. It was a marvelous thing to witness. He was sent back home after we reached Hilo. The 4 days at sea were very relaxing for us. We absolutely love the sea days! There were enough activities to keep us entertained throughout. If you love trivia, then this cruise was for you! I ended up bringing 5 "ships-on-a-stick" home. Keeping in mind that the average age for the passengers on this cruise was near 65 years old and older, many passengers complained of not having enough to do while at sea. And with the choppy seas resulting in the cancellation of most of the dance shows in the main auditorium, frustration began to settle in with a few. Carnival didn't have any backup plans to remedy the situation, which I think they should work on. Arriving in Hawaii was spectacular! We made stops in Hilo, Kahalui, Maui, Honolulu, Kona and the island of Kauai. In Hilo, we took the shuttle downtown to explore the town and the market place. We also visited Hilo Hatties. Note: every port of call during this cruise had a free, full-size bus shuttle people to and from (of all places) WalMart! All day long! In Maui, we rented a Mustang convertible and drove to Lahaina to do a whale watching tour that I had booked online, at a cost of $22.40 per person. While waiting to board the boat, I talked with a gentleman from the Princess ship that was there and he told me that Princess charged them $89.99 pp for the exact same tour! It pays to shop around! We spent the rest of the day just driving around exploring this island. Absolutely beautiful! Our next stop was Honolulu and we, again, rented a Mustand convertible. Got excellent deals with Thrifty. We drove out to Pearl Harbor and toured the USS Missouri, visitor's center and the USS Bowfin. We had been aboard the Arizona Memorial during two previous visits. For someone so interested in WWII history, this was unbelieveable for me! We then drove to the Internation Marketplace to get souveniers for the kids and grandkids. Even enjoyed a Puka Dog for lunch. After shopping here for a couple of hours, it was time to surprise my wife with something that I had planned for months and she had no idea about. We drove to a very nice beach and met with a minister who renewed our wedding vows with a traditional Hawaiian ceremony. My wife was shocked! It was fantastic! And, yes, she said "yes" for the 2nd time (after 37 years)! We then sailed back to the Big Island for a day in Kona. It was here that I spent the most money. The first shop my wife noticed was an ABC Store and she went bezerk in there! We ended up buying another piece of luggage just to bring home what she bought here! We walked the streets and took many pictures of this beautifl place. Our final stop was in Kauai. Here, we took the Wainmea Canyon Tour. Our bus drove on a road that wasn't hardly wide enough for two cars all the way to the canyon, passing other buses along the way. What a frightening experience. But we made it and the view of the canyon was well worth the ride up! It was like looking at the Grand Canyon...only greener! After leaving Kauai and returning to San Diego, the ship had to turn around and head back to Honolulu because a passenger had a medical emergency and had to be taken to a hospital. This put our schedule back about 12-14 hours, resulting in us missing our port of call in Ensanada, Mexico (which was OK with most of the passengers). We arrived back in San Diego and debarkation was a breeze! Locating our luggage once we left the ship was another story! After spending over 45-minutes looking for our last suitcase, we found it near the exit door. Apparently, someone picked it up, realized it wasn't their's and just left it there. Overall, the cruise was the BEST one yet for us! The ship was in great condition, and the crew was fantastic, especially the captain. He and his crew did a great job saving that man. The Entertainment staff was great, except for the Cruise Director. Stu could do alot better when it came to mingling with the passengers. The Social Host, Misty, was wonderful! She will make a great Cruise Director some day! Hats off to Lanne, Menna, Christy (it's M-A-L-I-H-I-N-I")and Gayve! Great job! The food was the best we've ever had aboard a Carnival ship! Our waiter, Allan, did a superb job each and every night. The only complaint we had was that the shrimp cocktails have disappeared from the menu, having it only one night! We are in the steakhouse one evening and had the best meal we've ever eaten anywhere! The only complaints that we had was the cruise terminal in San Diego. It was nothing more than a warehouse with little facilities. However, we have learned that Carnival will no longer be sailing out of here, so any ideas for improvement would be needless. We loved this cruise so much that we are considering doing it again in 2014 aboard the Miracle out of LA. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Where should I start? First, I want to say this is MY review and ONLY my account will be in it. Nobody else had any input or review of it so if it is badly written it is all my fault. This cruise was memorable to say the least. I will ... Read More
Where should I start? First, I want to say this is MY review and ONLY my account will be in it. Nobody else had any input or review of it so if it is badly written it is all my fault. This cruise was memorable to say the least. I will start with kudos to our wonderful "hostess" Amy, our Cruise Critic leader. She was on top of stuff and was/is the spark plug that made things seem to come together. This cruise was planned for almost 2 years and the anticipation was enormous. Both my wife and I were so excited and we really planned this to the max. We did our research and knew what we wanted to do and endeavored to do it. I will start the actual review with a comment on San Diego. The city is beautiful and has a lot to offer. The zoo, Midway and all the rest are great however, the sidewalks are atrocious! You must walk very carefully or you will trip and screw up your ankle or knee as our travel mate Mary found out. We arrived on Wednesday and the city was so pretty and we had a good time getting our bags to the hotel. It took a while for the shuttle from the HI but, finally we got there. The hotel - Holiday Inn on the Bay was a great place to stay. Our room was in the south tower and overlooked the dock. We watched while the Sapphire Princess docked right across the street! It was awesome and well worth the $153 our group was able to negotiate. Our room was nice and well situated. I could not really find anything to ding them on. The place was clean, well located, comfortable and the staff was up to the task. We had some difficulty with getting them to give our group a better price but, I think what we paid was just fine. Kudos to the Holiday Inn. We did some walking (4-5 miles) around downtown looking for a place to eat and were unsuccessful. We finally ate at the Hotel and it was ok - not great but ok. I had an IPA beer and it was awful but, the steak made up for it. The next day we took a taxi to the San Diego Zoo. What a wonderful day! The weather could not have been better - sunny and 80! This is the cities crown jewel and I hope they realize that fact. Had a wonderful day and fulfilled a lifelong dream of my wife's to visit it. Dinner at a fish place across the street from the hotel when we got back was a fine end to a wonderful day. This was starting to look like a wonderful trip.....little did we know...... Now to the actual cruise. It started on Friday April 13 and the day was gloomy - not a bad omen - it is Southern California and rain was predicted. We schlepped our bags across the street as no shuttle was necessary prior to the rain (will get to it) and we got into the facility early (among the first 12 Platinum Cruisers). We took our bags to a porter and paid the tip expecting good service and were to soon learn otherwise. We were directed to sit in a warehouse awaiting some direction for an hour. The organization in this place was helter skelter and they really had no "plan" to deal with us. I know this is not a regular port for Carnival but, even so, I have come to expect more from Carnival. The other ports are so good and consistent that this experience was a real bad start to our trip. The fun was just getting started however, as the teeming horde soon began to file in and the room began to fill up. Keep in mind that a Holland-America ship had used the other side of this building the day before and didn't seem to have any problem. We were queued up and marched to a tent for "platinum" cruisers as no VIP area was available especially for as many of us as there were. There were so many Platinum cruisers that they ran out of Platinum sign and sail cards and those lucky recipients got Milestone white cards in their place - not the benefits but, a keepsake nonetheless. We sat in our tent for a while (around 30-60 minutes) and we were then marched off to the parking lot and to the "gangway" - a long ramp and were finally on the ship. We had been the first 12 but, due to the lack of organization we were the last of this group to get on the ship. The fun was soon to get even better. We got on the ship - the Spirit is a beautiful ship and the decor is subdued compared to other ships we have sailed on. Spirit is a great ship with the best layout we have yet seen on a Carnival ship. Good job Joe Farcus! This ship was well laid out and easy to navigate. The day proceeded and we were on the boat after about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of disorganization. The weather began to deteriorate and as you would know it the rain began while we were eating lunch on Lido. It was light at first and the squall came a runnin and the wind was fierce and the rain came in buckets. While on the ship we watched the "warehouse" building roof with plastic sheeting and buckets and blocks holding them down, blow in the storm. Now keep in mind that this operation was taking place while people were embarking in the open AND our luggage was being schlepped into the tent for x-ray. Our bags were on the bottom of the pallet and we thought we had nothing to fear. How wrong we were - they took out the bags and repacked in reverse order and our bags got drenched. Note to future cruisers in San Diego, line your bag with plastic and save the grief of soaked clothes and personal effects! We did not know this at the time as we "assumed" our baggage was going to be fine. Afterward we had lunch and looked around the boat a little. We dropped off our heavy carry-on bag (full of bottles of water) and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. The muster drill actually did not interfere with sail away and we were glad to see it taking place again on the actual boat deck - good idea and I will never complain about it again. Lesson learned from Costa Concordia. The first day at sea was to turn into the worst weather we have ever seen on a cruise. The waves were 30 feet high and the ship pitched and rolled much to the chagrin of all on board. You know it is bad when crew members are having trouble walking. They placed the barf bags at elevators and other strategic locations too late to prevent some "spillage" and we were more than happy to go to bed. More than once we were literally airborne in our beds - THAT IS HOW MUCH IT WAS PITCHING! Mary went on Lido at 6 in the morning and they had closed upper decks and forward decks due to winds. Finally after about 1 1/2 days of sheer hell the wind and waves abated and we had a couple of sunny days. The sunny days ended on day 3 - about 2 in the afternoon a call went over the intercom "BRAVO BRAVO - Port Side! BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO". Of course everybody was on deck to watch. A manic-depressive man had jumped off Serenity deck and the ship circled back to find him. The bridge upon hearing of the jumper set a gps point and a crewmember threw a lifering out. The boat launched the rescue boat and all eyes were on the sea looking for the man and curiously enough, Stu Dunn the Cruise Director was on the bridge and was the person who first spotted the man. The rescue boat picked him up - much to his chagrin and they were hoisted onto the ship to the cheers and accolades they so richly deserved. I will say this for the crew of Carnival Spirit -BRAVO for a magnificent rescue at the point of no return! Captain Roberto Volpi, you can be very proud of your crew - they did their job perfectly and that man and his family have you to thank for it. I asked Captain Volpi about it on the Behind the Fun Tour and he was very gracious and said it was "the crew" but, when things go bad the Captain gets the blame and by golly he deserves the kudos when things go right and I told him so. This gentleman was cuffed and held in the Medical Center and evacuated in Hilo 2 days later. We never heard any more about him. I hope he gets the help he needs and that his family is coping well. This guy was off his meds and had selected the ideal spot to do his deed as no rescue from land was feasible but, the magnificent crew of the Spirit saved him and reinforced my faith in man. These guys risked their lives for a stranger and my gratitude to all five of you - you rock!!!! The stop in Hilo was a good one for me. I took Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Eco-360 tour of the Circle of Fire. The pilot - Roger was great and the trip started with the ubiquitous safety talk. We then got boarded and since I was the first (and computer determined weight was right) in I got the number one seat next to the pilot. I videoed the entire trip and it was awesome! Our headsets played music and the first song of course was the Hawaii Five-O theme! How appropriate! We saw the jungle and then the devastation of Kilauea was in view. The destruction was immense and the steam was more so. It started to rain and did so the rest of the trip. We flew through it and it hampered views of everything. Nothing could be done about that but, it was still an awesome view of some amazing scenery. We viewed Rainbow Falls and then to cap it off, we flew over our beautiful Carnival Spirit. The music over the volcano was "volcano music" and then to finish the tour Roger played Israel's (IZ) version of Somewhere over the Rainbow and it brought tears to my eyes. This guy was so good and it is such a tragedy he is gone. Maui was the next stop and the Road to Hana Tour. We booked off ship and were glad we did. Our bus was comfortable and we would soon be glad for that. The trip was long and at times harrowing but, very beautiful. The vistas and scenery were so great and words cannot do them justice. We stopped at a state park and walked to the shore and up to a waterfall. The power of the ocean was brought to bear and it is magnificent. This tours last stop was to a hilltop where you could see the volcanoes cone extend from the sea all the way up and a 360 degree pan of the scene is breath-taking. At times the road was one lane and many times we had to wait for tourists in rental cars to go through. One guy in a convertible Mustang tried to negotiate the entire trip and even though the rental agencies tell them to not drive here (our guide/driver called this the jeep road) he did and will be paying for repairing the oil pan or transmission because it was leaking and he had to pull off the road. A very expensive drive for him and laughs for us. The third visit was Honolulu and my trip was to the real heart of my visit - Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. Our bus went to the Palace and King Kamehameha's statue and then to the Punchbowl. Busses are not allowed to stop in the cemetery so we could just drive through. It is a beautiful resting place for some great heroes like Ernie Pyle. Then onto Pearl Harbor. The facility is run jointly by the Park Service and the Navy. The driver had us go through the 2 museums and then to the video presentation. The Ranger on the screen was pretty and informative. The video was fairly presented and well done. The group was then led to the motor vessel piloted by a Navy pilot to the place of reverence. I must commend the pilot as he did a good job with his 2 diesels he managed to negotiate the boat very well and I told him so. I videoed the approach and will only comment about the memorial to the extent that I always was instructed and told that a place of reverence was just that - a place of reverence and you should remove your hat. I did so but, virtually nobody else did and many were Vets. The memorial had undergone restoration within the last 5 years and was in good condition. The Arizona was the most touching and moving experience I can remember and this visit was a "must" do for me. I was compelled to go there and I felt much closer to my Dad. He went through Pearl on his way to the Philippines and back in WWII. We had a couple of "considerate" fellow tourists who, when advised that we had another tour to a Luau at 4 and had to be back so we could change stated "Why should we suffer because of you" and proceeded to take their sweet time (45 minutes) and we were almost late getting back for the tour. Thank you for your kindness - what goes around comes around and you will get yours someday. We got back and my beloved wife had clothes ready so I could quickly get ready - no shower time. It was then off to the Paradise Cove Luau on the other side of the island. A 45 minute drive and funny enough we drove right past Pearl Harbor again - there are 3 highways - H1, H2 and H3. The Luau was next and we looked forward to it. We got a drink on the way in - Mai Tai but, not much alcohol in it. The location was pretty and very scenic. We wandered around for a hour or so and Mary and I took a canoe ride in the surf. The pig was a cookin and smelled wonderful. We had a pricy drink after a long line wait and then it was time to eat. The food was ok - just ok and the pork smelled much better than it tasted. It was pork, macaroni salad, salad and of course the ubiquitous poi. I tried it and according to the guide some said it tasted like Elmers Glue and he was right! Not very tasty and one try was enough. The entertainment was good and the fire dance was awesome. On the whole my comment would be - never did a Luau and now I have - no need to do another. Was overpriced for sitting on plastic chairs a far piece from the stage. There were over 800 people there and it was too many for everybody to have a good view. Our fourth visit was back to the big island, Hawaii, for Sensational Kona, booked thru Carnival. We toured a coffee plantation and factory (Kona Joes) and a chocolate farm and factory as well as a soap factory. Coffee tour was good and we bought coffee for friends and ourselves. I liked the cocoa trees and the guide (owner) was knowledgeable but overlong. The soap factory was in a farm and the tour of the place was fascinating. We then were dropped off to shop and get some souvenirs. A good stop and our comment while on the lifeboat back to the ship (the only tender port) was it was a good day. The VOG (volcanic fog) was spooky and looking at the mountains shrouded in VOG was eerie. This was a particularly bad day for VOG (figures) and view was still breathtaking. The last stop was Kauai (Nawilliwilli) and we docked at an old sugar mill site. Our tour was a little misleading (booked off ship) and the vehicle was a regular van. 7 people filled it to the max. Fortunately for us the van had rear a/c and we were comfortable, if cramped. We saw all the movie sites on the way - the beginning sequence of Indiana Jones was easily recognizable as was the scene where he runs to the waiting seaplane and takes off. It was filmed on the Wailua river and we boated to the Fern Grotto. The Grotto was pretty and the guides sang the Hawaiian Wedding Song and it was very romantic. We then proceeded to Kilauea Point Lighthouse and had a wonderful vista. The weather was windy as can be and we had great views of the sea in its magnificence. The crashing sea and point were a sight to behold. It is a bird sanctuary and the cliffs were covered with white spots that were birds. Then off to Hanalei and the "true" inspiration for Puff the Magic Dragon. The mountains resembled a dragon (yeah right) to Peter Yarrow and due to ample applications of Maui Wowie etc. the song came to life. Hanalei was a quaint town and the most magnificent was the mountain vista in back of it. Looking up at them we could see waterfalls (6 or 7 we could see) and it was a stunning sight. The top 2/3 of the falls were obscured by the clouds and even still it was a sight to behold. Our trip back was uneventful. Our trip home was highlighted by boredom, complacency and more boredom. The cruise director Stu, while funny at times was not up to the task. He is responsible for entertainment and there was a sad lack of same on this trip. The weather obviated all dancers for the trip west and the first show on the way home. In any event, another, alternative should be offered or planned. None was done and we were left to our own devices. Not well planned or executed at all and Stu was the reason. Not out and about as most other CD's are and not very engaging. He lucked into the job and it shows. His g'day grows old and while some found it endearing I found it annoying after the lack of planning became evident. The comics in Punchliner were good and funny but, the recent decision by some pinhead in Miami to clear the room after each show was a real PITA. There is no "valid" reason for the "resetting the room" excuse and this "policy" should be done away with. If I am in place for one show it is my decision to sit there awaiting the next one or to leave - not theirs. Nuff said. We had the Ocean Suite 6258 and loved it. We loved the room and the changing area and REAL BATHTUB with DOORS was a good perk. We got a good deal by booking early and paid less for this than some did for a balcony. Our steward, Asep, was great and very friendly. Dining room on the first night was a conundrum. We asked the Hostess WTF the Mait'r D was thinking when he booked the 3 of us with 4 80-90 y/o ladies. No further comment other than we tried to get another table and none available on early seating so we changed to Anytime Dining and this was fortuitous for us. We found Phillip and Edy and had our wait staff delight! Phillip was from Jamaica and we got to know him well. Edy was very engaging and funny and this obviated some of the goofy menu selections. I don't know who comes up with some of that stuff but STOP IT!!!!! I don't want goofy stuff with unpronounceable names and unidentifiable stuff. The debarkation was relatively uneventful for us but, some of our Moana Malihini group did not get in the Sports Bar in time and therefore missed the Platinum VIP first out. We just lucked out as Stu happened by there (it was the end of the self-assist line) and told us (no PA announcement) to follow him for our early out. We got through the lines with no problem and were then crammed into a 7 passenger van with 7 passengers worth of luggage (talk about a blivet) and we did not gripe as we were on our way and it was only 7 bucks a throw. On the flight home we had to fly over the thunderstorms over St Louis where the tent blew away and killed a couple of bar patrons and softball sized hail abounded. It was a little rough for a half hour and then uneventful to Baltimore. In Baltimore we owed our final takeoff to Steve, the "aircraft maintenance technician" who had to replace a defective seat belt on a seat behind us. Then, 45 minutes late our plane was on the way home. To conclude, Carnival only does this trip twice a year and I can understand why. The trip over is long and the weather (at least at this time of year) can be atrocious. While the crew of the Spirit is very friendly and for the most part did an excellent job, a lack of planning in the Entertainment area made what could have been an excellent trip less than enjoyable. We wanted to go to Hawaii and we now have been there. We want to go back but it will not be by cruise ship. The time spent on the ship could have been spent exploring the beautiful islands and not coping with nature and a sad lack of planning and vision. It is our understanding that Carnival is getting out of San Diego and the loss of the city would be unfortunate. The loss of that lousy embarkation port would be no loss however. This was clearly the worst embarkation we have ever done and will not go through San Diego again for this reason only. I loved the city and would go back to visit it. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We've been home a week now and I finally (kinda) have time to write a review. I am so thankful for all the reviews I have read, I wanted to give back a little.DH & I are from Columbia, SC. On 4/10/12, we started our vacation off ... Read More
We've been home a week now and I finally (kinda) have time to write a review. I am so thankful for all the reviews I have read, I wanted to give back a little.DH & I are from Columbia, SC. On 4/10/12, we started our vacation off wrong by oversleeping! I think neither of us could sleep the night before like it was Christmas Eve. We had a flight out of Charlotte at 7:50 am. We had plans for someone to pick us up & drive us to Charlotte at 4 am. We still left around 4:30 am, a little rushed but we made our flight fine. We had a 45 minute layover in Dallas, then our last leg to San Diego. From the airport, we just grabbed a taxi that took us to our hotel, Andaz by Hyatt, right in the gaslamp quarter. We loved the hotel. Cleanliness & location is most important to us. Andaz was this plus more. The hotel let us check in early (around noon vs 3 pm check-in time). We dropped off our luggage then walked about 2 blocks to Enterprise car rental, where we were to pick up a vehicle and drive the San Diego 59 mile scenic drive. The drive took about 4 hours with stops and was a lot of fun. I had printed directions & if you pay real close attention, there are signs with pelicans that mark the route. We made several short stops for photo ops & eventually a long stop at Seaside Village, where I purchased a Christmas Ornament with "San Diego" on it (a tradition in all cities we visit). The man in the store recommended a place for dinner for us right there in Seaside Village called Harbor House. It had a nice view & the food hit the spot. After dinner, we started a hunt for a piece of luggage & our soda of choice (diet mountain dew) to take on the cruise with us. Of course we could have brought them from home but it would have costed $200 for the luggage plus it would have been overweight. We figured a cheap piece of luggage & the sodas at Wal-mart, no problem. Well, it was a problem. Diet Mountain Dew is almost impossible to find in San Diego. We settled for some Diet 7-up. Then we stopped in Target for the luggage and found individual bottled diet mountain dew. We cleaned their shelves, every one of them. A small thing, but one of those little things that matter to us. So, we had a huge piece of luggage filled with Diet Mountain Dew & Diet 7-up. We dropped the luggage at our hotel, returned our rental at Hard Rock Hotel (where they offer 24 hour return service), bought Hard Rock T-shirts for our boys (ages 16 & 20), another tradition, then walked back to our hotel. Time for bed, it's been a long day! 4/11/12- Today, we walked to Little Italy, where we had a coffee in front of Starbucks. Then, we walked to Horton Plaza & did a little shopping. This was a very neat 3/4 story open air mall. We had lunch at their food court on the rooftop. It started to drizzle so we walked through Gaslamp Quarter back to our hotel, where we relaxed until time to get ready for dinner. Before dinner, we had a cocktail at our hotels wine bar, then headed to Hard Rock for a drink, then a drink at a bar I can't remember the name of, then a drink at Croces. See a pattern? The live music started up just before time for our dinner reservations I had made months ago at The Merk, inside The Keating Hotel, just a block up from our hotel. First, we sat at the wrong restaurant. I thought it was odd the hostess didn't have my reservation but sat us anyway. I knew we were in the wrong place when I saw the menu, but after we had ordered drinks. We apologized and our waitress pointed us in the directions of our restaurant. All of the businesses are close together and it is hard to tell where you are. So we went one door down to The Merk, confirmed it was indeed the Merk, ordered drinks and looked at the menu. This does not look like the menu I saw months ago when making reservations. My DH inquired about that and the waitress told us they had just changed to a bistro about 2 weeks ago. We were in the mood for good italian so we apologized again and our waitress suggested an Italian restaurant right across the street. 3 Times a charm. It was very good, especially the lobster ravioli. Top notch restaurant. Too bad I can't remember the name of it. It started with a "M" and is across from "The Merk". We had plans to go to the Shout House Dueling Piano Bar after dinner. Needless to say, we both had too much to drink already so we called it a night. 4/12/12- We headed to Horton Plaza, where we would catch The Old Town Trolley to Balboa Park/San Diego Zoo. It was chilly but sunny. 60-70 degrees is chilly for us from SC. We were a little early so we grabbed coffee from Panera Bread. The trolley was right on time & it was really neat & fun to get to see & hear about the city. We got off at the Balboa Park/Zoo stop. If we would have stayed on, the ride would be about 2 hours for the entire tour. We would see the other half of the tour when we leave the zoo. We had to walk a good ways to the zoo. They dropped us off at Balboa Park & we couldn't figure out where the zoo was. Finally asked someone. The zoo was very crowded & we had to get in line for tickets even though I had already purchased & printed the tickets online. The layout of the zoo was confusing & again, crowded so it was a tiring but fun day at the zoo. After the zoo, we headed back to our trolley stop at Balboa Park. We had to wait a few minutes for the next trolley & since it was near the last stop of the day, the next 2 trolleys were full but they seem to know this will happen so they had another one on the way already. We got to see the rest of the city tour. We had to get off at one stop to validate our tickets, then hop right back on. We were dropped back off at Horton Plaza. We walked back to Andaz Hotel and got ready for dinner. We had dinner reservations at Katsuya next door to our hotel. It was a hip & chic place with good japanese food but not hibachi. After dinner, we went to Shout House, which was really cool. It was very lively and they were playing great music. Then we went to the rooftop of our own hotel for a night cap. We had a view of Petco Stadium lights from there. 4/13/12-Embarkation Day- Andaz has complimentary transportation to the port, but it is on a first come, first serve basis. But last night, we just asked the valet about it and they went ahead and reserved for us & my DH gave him a nice tip. Exactly as scheduled at 11:30 am, the bell hop had our luggage ready & the valet had our transportation ready to go to the port. The vehicle was a nice Ford Expedition. The driver drove us to the port & check-in was the smoothest process we had ever experienced. Except, we didn't get our luggage until about an hour after the muster drill, which is a first for us. Plus we sailed about an hour late because it took longer for them to get all the luggage on the ship because it is 15 days long. I guess I'm not the only one that can't pack light. As soon as we got our luggage, we unpacked and hurried up to Lido deck for dirty bananas (our favorite Carnival drink) & sail away. Then we got ready for dinner. We had late assigned dinner @ 8:15pm. We were sat at a 4 person table & had no dinner mates the first night. After dinner, we browsed the shops & called it a night. 4/14/12-First day at sea- We slept in & woke up to it being COLD & WINDY! I expected it to be chilly the first couple of days from reading the message boards. We had breakfast, then went to the spa hottub to try to help my back. I think I had a pinched nerve or something. I even thought about doing accupuncture in the spa & inquired about it. The girl told me it would be helpful but I never tried it. After the hottub, we went back to our cabin and rested the rest of the day. Ordered in lunch & an in cabin movie. We took a LONG nap, then got ready for dinner. My back is feeling better now but DH hardly ate anything because he was feeling a little sea sick. This is a first for him after 14 cruises. I should note this was our first Pacific cruise. We had only done Carribbean cruises prior to this. We called it a night after dinner because DH wasn't feeling great. Hoping to have lots of sunshine and less rocking tomorrow. 4/15/12-2nd Day at Sea- Grabbed breakfast on lido deck. The wind had settled & the ship was not rocking as much. Went to the gym for an hour, then we grabbed 2 lounge chairs on lido. It was still chilly but warmer. When the sun came out, it was great. We enjoyed the hottub a little. At 1:30, we got lunch and took it to our cabin. Puchased another in cabin movie & napped til dinner time. Ahhh loving the naps so far. It's formal night, so that means pumpkin soup (our favorite Carnival food item). Our dinner mates showed up tonight for the first time. They were cool. Carnival really does a great job of matching folks up, if it is true what I hear, that they match people up by age, etc. After dinner, we went to the 10 pm comedy show. It was funny. Then we went to the Dancin' dance club, where they were having a 50' & 60's night (this is more like my Dads music so I still relate to it). The club is 2 stories and pretty neat. We were having so much fun, we missed the 11 pm comedy show. Around midnight, we headed to our cabin for another movie, which neither of us made it through before falling asleep. We are not old but we sure are acting like it on this cruise. DH is 40 & I am 36, btw. 4/16/12-3rd Day at Sea (Man Overboard Day)- Today, we slept in late, skipped breakfast & went to Lido deck for 2 lounge chairs in hopes that the 2 chilly days at sea are over and done with. It still started off chilly but eventually the sun came out & it warmed up. The captain had made his normal noon announcement and told us that we had passed "the point of no return" meaning that we were closer to Hawaii than the west coast & some time after that, we heard "Bravo Bravo Port Side" & the horn blew. I looked at DH with a puzzled look on my face & he returned the puzzled look. I started to see a few crew members scramble around and the passengers gathering at the railings. DH was just sipping his dirty banana when I said "Uh, something is going on". We both got up and went to the railings & within 10 seconds heard someone say that someone had gone overboard. Stu (the cruise director) came on the speakers and confirmed that someone had gone overboard & that we were going to turn around and go back about a mile or 2, where they believe this person is. So, we indeed went back. Once we reached the spot, we watched as the crew lowered a boat & struggled to get it unhooked from the ship, causing them to almost go under theirselves. It was frightening to watch. We watched as they went almost directly to the passenger overboard, rescued him and returned him alive. It was truly amazing. There are several rumors as to his injuries & how he went overboard but I do not know first hand. I googled it and found an article and 2 videos of the rescue, just yesterday. After the man was rescued, there was a great applaud for the rescue team for their efforts. We had a really late lunch, then headed to our cabin for a while. I called home to let everyone know what happened in case it hit the news & no telling if they would have the story twisted. Next thing you know, my family would think our ship had sunk (or sank?). We also went to the internet cafe to communicate with our boys. We went to the hypnotist show before dinner. It was okay. We have seen so many hypnotist shows that they just all seem the same. After dinner, we peaked in the piano bar for a little bit, then called it a night. 4/17/12-I woke up at 6:30 am excited about being in Hawaii tomorrow! We got breakfast in the dining room for the first time on this cruise. We just prefer the buffet breakfast, but usually do the dining room breakfast at least once. It was a great oppurtunity to meet folks. After breakfast, we went to Lido deck to find some sun & we found it! Finally, it eventually got HOT today! We stayed out in it for 5 hours, we were so excited. Then we got ready for a casual dinner, skipping the dining room tonight. At 8:30 pm, we went to see the gender game, it was cute. Then we played bingo, then watched the Love Game (always a hoot). Then we went for pizza & ice cream for our cabin. Hilo, HI tomorrow! 4/18/12-Hilo, HI- Helllooo, Hawaii! Tina (from Big Island Tours/Aina Tours) was right on time meeting us at the pier for our private tour. We had arranged this probably a year ago because I wanted to see as much of Hawaii as possible, I couldn't stand to do a group tour. I couldn't have other people slowing me down. We agreed on an itenerary ahead of time via e-mail, an amount and how many hours we would tour. First stop was Hilo Coffee Mill, where we had a coffee, took pictures of the chicken & bought some espresso for DH's boss. Next stop, Volcano National Park. I can't remember all the points we went to here. Here's what I remember..Lava tubes (neat), Jagger Museum (neat), Steam Vents (neat) & The Crater (can't remember the name of it). DH thought we would see live lava flowing but nope. After VNP, we went to Macadamia Nut Factory. The parking lot smelled soo good. I got some chocolate covered nuts & we had lunch here. Deli sandwiches & ice cream with mac nuts. Yum. They had a nice garden we walked through then we headed to Akaka & Kahuna Falls. Both beautiful but Akaka Falls was breathtaking! We walked through lush rainforests. Tina drove us through town, along the shore, Banyan Drive & eventually we went to Rainbow Falls. No rainbow because it was too cloudy but still beautiful. Then, Tina took us to the airport because I wanted a fresh flower lei for tomorrows luau. There were so many to choose from & they were fairly priced. We bought one for me and DH. Then we drove through Liliokalani (sp?) Gardens, a Japanese style garden. Our last stop was Richardson Beach, which was a beautiful black sand beach. We even saw a couple of big turtles bobbing in the water. We then headed back to our ship just in time to make a call home before boarding for sail away to Maui. We got ready for dinner on Lido. Ship sails away at 7 pm. We got on board around 6:30 pm. A mentionable about this tour. In our e-mail correspondence, they recommended Hilo Coffee Mill & Macadamia Nut Factory, which I originally said I did not want to do because I thought it was a waste of time and we would not be able to see the other things I wanted to see. I am so glad we stopped at both, they were memorable stops. 4/19/12-Maui, HI- We got off the ship as soon as we could & got in line for the rental cars. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a shuttle to take us to Thrifty to get our car rental. Not too long there & we were on our way to Kapalua Golf Club, where I had made DH a tee time for 10 am. It was a nice 40 minute drive to the course. DH was fitted for clubs & shoes and was paired with a couple from Chicago and a member of the club. It was so cold & windy to me even though it was 80 degrees because of the elevation of the course. I am not a golfer but thought I would enjoy the views and riding along. The views were very nice but I regretted it was so windy. Finished up around 2:30 pm, changed for the Feast at Lele luau & headed to Lahaina, where I was so happy to be warm. We parked the vehicle in the luau parking lot for $10, then walked about a mile down Front St. to Hard Rock Cafe to get t-shirts and we were so hungry, we had lunch there too, even though our luau was in a couple hours. We walked along Front St to find Christmas ornament. Front St. was very neat & quaint shopping area with unique shops. Then we went to our luau. It was a beautiful setting with the beach in the background & sunset. We had the best seats! Front row, center. The sunset was gorgeous. The entertainment- awesome! The food was different & a little fancy but SO much of it that we found plenty to eat. Plus we were still full from lunch. Oh, and it's not buffet style, which is one of the reasons I chose this one. I cannot describe how much we enjoyed this luau. It was so romantic & perfect. We were sat at a table alone. After the luau, we returned the car rental & caught the shuttle back to the ship with about 50 minutes to spare before sail-away. I did so much worrying about whether we would make it back to the ship on time. Would we have to leave the luau early? Would the shuttle run this late? I asked many times and was always assured it was ok. Straight to our cabins & bed we went. Another long day tomorrow! 4/20/12-Honolulu, HI- We ported about an hour early. I could tell from our balcony that this island was much busier & touristy. The street was so busy with cars. We got off early (I also did much worrying about making it to Pearl Harbor for our tour time, since they ask that you get there an hour early but luckily we ported early)& got a taxi to Pearl Harbor. I had reserved tickets online. Aloha Tower was pretty at the pier. When we got to Pearl Harbor (about $30 taxi one way), we learned that all the tickets for the day were gone. I am so glad we made reservations. There were so many people upset about this. It was only 9:30 am but I had done my research and knew that they go fast. We paid $3 per bag to store because you can't take bags in. Another thing people were upset about. Again, I did my research. We checked in & they told us where to meet 10 minutes before our tour time. I also paid $18 online when reserving the tickets for the headsets. They were a neat way to waste time before our tour time of the USS Arizona Memorial. Jamie Lee Curtis does the commentary & it was great knowledge. Right on time, we were beginning our tour in the theatre room, where we sat & watched a moving video that lasts about 15 minutes. Then we exited the theatre & boarded a vessel driven by US Navy to the USS Arizona Memorial. A very good experience. After the memorial, we finished our headset tour, then got another taxi to Hard Rock Cafe (about $50, in traffic), got the boys t-shirts, then walked about 4 blocks to Duke Statue. My son was able to see us on the live web cam there. We layed on Waikiki beach for a while. It was a crowded beach, nice for people watching but no drink service so we didn't stay too long. Got another taxi to Ala Moana Center & went straight to their food court (I had heard their food court was great) and got lunch. We both got food from The Chicken Company (because they had soul food, something we were missing from home I guess) & we also got some cookies from another place. There were so many places to choose from in the food court. After lunch, we walked almost the entire 4 levels of the mall. Then we got a taxi to House Without A Key, where we did not have reservations (they wouldn't take them over the phone). It is in a hotel called Halekani (sp?). This is one area I misunderstood the message boards. It wasn't what I had expected. We asked for a table outside but there were none available. Well, we were outside but with a roof over us and couldn't see the sunset unless we got up. It was a nice & elegant setting but the menu was difficult to order from & I think it just wasn't what I had expected. But we had a couple frozen drinks that were very good and made the best of it. After dinner, we got one last taxi to the cruise ship a bit earlier than we had to. Good, because we have a early day tomorrow. I forgot to mention before we sat at House Without A Key, we walked onto the public beach area. They wouldn't let us walk onto the beach through the hotel because that was for guests only but the valet guy showed us the way to public beach & we caught a view of Diamond Head. Honolulu reminds me of a tropical New York. Very busy with tall buildings and high end shops but also very pretty. 4/21/12-Kona,HI- We ported at 8 am. Well, tendered, or whatever it's called. This is the only port we booked an excursion through Carnival because when I tried to book directly through Captain Zodiac, the lady on the phone told me it might be best since we tender here so we won't have to worry about missing our tour. It was more expensive but worth it. Very worth it. We heard later that many people did not get to tender til 2 1/2 hours after we did. Our snorkel tour was great! The boat ride was very bumpy but so much fun! And I was afraid of being afraid. But I was not. Our driver took us straight to dolphins, which I had never seen in the natural setting (other than Sea World). He explained that the dolphin were sleeping. I didn't care. Dolphins are dolphins! We were on our way to our snorkel site, where the Captain Cook monument is, Keoholuka Bay (Now I know I spelled that wrong). The reef was so awesome & we saw lots of colorful fish. This was only the 2nd time I had ever snorkeled and the first time was at Trunk Bay off St. John which is supposed to be in the top 10 snorkel spots in the country I believe? But this spot definately beat it out. My parents bought us an underwater camera for Christmas, which we got our first use out of. DH took lots of pics. I eventually got really cold so we got back on the boat, where they had snacks & drinks ready for us. I couldn't stop shivering I was so cold! It was very warm. I just got chilled to the bone! As we were leaving the site, we saw spinner dolphins! People were snorkeling right around them. We stopped at several spots on the way back such as sea arches, a sea cave & a rock formation that looks like the shape of a woman, which they believe to be Pele? who was the first Queen of Hawaii. I think that's the story. When we got back, we tried to get a taxi to a beach we wanted to go to but the taxi driver didn't know where it was. So plan B was to talk to a beach that we couldn't find! Plan C was to take a taxi to a beach just past Kona Reef Condos going right from the pier about a mile down on the right. Someone from the message board recommended it. It was a tiny but nice place to relax. We even saw several turtles bobbing in the water, coming very close to shore. About 2:45, we started walking back to the ship. It was a long walk but we stopped at a couple shops along the way. There were many restaurants & shops along the half hour walk. We decided to try to let the tender line go down some before standing in it (DH's idea that I didn't agree to). I was right because it just got longer. To waste time, we went into the ABC store right there and ended up cleaning their shelves of Diet Mountain Dew to take back on the ship plus a couple little souveniers. When we got on the ship, we got ready for dinner. Then bedtime. Real early day tomorrow in Kauai! 4/22/12-Nawiliwili Harbor, Kauai, HI- We ported around 7 am and got off the ship as early as we could. Got in line for the Thrifty car rental shuttle, waited about 15 minutes for the shuttle to arrive, then we were on our way to Thrifty to get our rental. We got in the Blue Chip line, which is supposed to be speedier but that line was much longer than the regular line. Soon enough though, we were on our way to Waimea Canyon. I had programmed the trip on the GPS we brought. The drive is so beautiful & it took us about 3 hours with stops at most of the lookout points. We went all the way to the top and then made stops on the way back down. Someone from the boards recommmended this and it was a good idea because we beat most of the tours doing the opposite. Afterwards, we headed back to Thrifty to return the car & I almost left my camera! That would have been so bad! But as soon as we realized it, they had already moved the rental but someone had put it in the lost & found, shew! We caught the shuttle to go back to the ship. But first the driver had to drop a few people at the airport, which was real close. We were the only 2 left on the shuttle so the driver struck up conversation with us. We told him were were going to Duke's for lunch and he offered to take us right to it! Very nice fella and DH left him a nice tip. Dukes is located just about less than a mile from the ship (you can see the ship from here) and located next to Marriott on Kalapaki Beach. We had to wait about 15 minutes to be seated so we sat on the grassy area behind the beach & watched folks race paddle boats. Very family friendly beach. At Duke's, we had Chicken Quesadillas, Nachos, Fish & Chips, Cheeseburger & Fries AND HULA PIE! People aren't joking about Hula Pie! We were so stuffed. The food was awesome! We also had 2 lava flows each. Tastes like a Miami Vice to me. Yum. Then we walked back to the ship and sat on the balcony for sail away. We got ready to try to make the 7 pm "Jazz Hot" show on the ship. Well, the show got cancelled because the ship was rocking so much and it was unsafe for the dancers. So we just browsed the photos on the ship, got a drink at the casino bar & came back to our cabin. We ordered a couple sandwiches & a movie then went to bed. 4/23/12- 5th Day at Sea- Woke up this morning with an announcement from the captain that we had to turn back in the middle of the night and were about an hour from Honolulu because a guest needed medical attention from a hospital. He expects that we will be in San Diego on time but maybe a few hours late for Ensenada. He will keep us updated. When DH returned to our cabin from the gym, I danced and said "We're going back to Hawaii", he just looked at me weird as I kept smiling, then he said "No, we aren't" I said "Uh huh, didn't you hear?" Ha! he didn't hear the announcement in the gym. We sat on the balcony and watched as we sailed back into Honolulu. Later, we got ready for the "Jazz Hot" show that was rescheduled. It was cancelled again! So, we went to the dining room to do the "Your Time Dining". I misunderstood this whole thing and thought you could do it anytime you want but later I read about it and understand you have to set that up ahead of time. But our waiter saw us waiting and sat us at his table (our table) with 2 others who didn't have table mates that night. A nice couple from Arizona, and at the table next to us was another nice couple from Texas. We enjoyed chatting with them. After dinner, we checked out other things on the ship but not much going on so we went to bed. 4/24/12-6th Day at Sea- Today we slept in, then went for coffee. Then we headed to Lido deck and grabbed a couple chairs. It was windy and cloudy again so at about noon, we decided to get lunch and go to the cabin for, yep you guessed it, a movie and a nap. We napped til 5 pm! We got ready for dinner, went to a comedy show, then to the ships production show. It wasn't very good but I don't remember the name of it. Then we went to the 2nd comedy show. The comedians were very good! We stopped in at Dancin' dance club a couple times in between shows. They were playing good music from 70's-90's but there wasn't much of a crowd. 4/25/12-7th Day at Sea- I didn't leave the cabin today until about 7:45 pm! DH woke me up this morning after he went to the gym. He told me it was cold & windy again so we didn't even bother. DH did some work on his laptop & I communicated with family. We ordered room service & a couple dirty bananas & took a nap! We slept again til 4 pm. DH went to the gym & I took my time getting ready for "The Big Easy" production show. While I was getting ready, they announced it was cancelled because of the ships rocking. So, we REALLY took our time getting ready for dinner. We had a drink as usual at the casino bar before dinner. The bartenders & wait staff all started to get to know us here & we got to know them. OUr bartender, who we also bumped into in port at Kauai, especially. We asked her how she got into working on a cruise ship. She said the situation in her country is not good. Her folks still live there & she'd like to eventually get papers to move to US or Canada. There is war in her country and the economy is bad. Also, she doesn't get a day off for her whole contract which would be 6-7 months. At which time, she would get 2 months off. I always find the staffs stories interesting. It is formal night so we headed to dinner. This is the last night we plan to eat in the dining room so we tipped our wait staff, especially the waiter who hooked us up that one night. After dinner, we went back to the casino bar, where we met a lady from Florida & we also met the captains wife & had conversation with her. Shewas a very sweet lady and gave me the rose her husband gave her. She said she only cruises about 2 times a year and this is only her 2nd time to visit Hawaii. Her husband, Italian, Captain Volpi, has been at sea for 50 years and is retiring this September because he will be turning 67 years old and captains are required to retire at that age. She says she doesn't know how he will do with retirement. After chatting with a few people, we went for coffee. Then we went to the Dancin' club at 10 pm when they opened. It was latin night & there was quite a few people dancing. We people watched in there for over an hour & talked about how we were going to learn latin dances. Then we called it a night. Such a relaxing vacation! 4/26/12-8th Day at Sea- I did not sleep very well last night with the ships rocking. DH woke me after he went to the gym & we went for coffee. We decided to wait to hear the captains announcement about the weather before trying to lay out. It is clear but still cool. After his announcement, we decided to give it a try even though it was only 66 degrees. We layed out until about 2:45 pm. I had lunch & we both had dirty bananas. DH arranged for champagne to arrive at our cabin chilled at about 3 pm for sunset on the balcony tonight. Before sunset, we ordered PB&J sandwiches (our dinner tonight) and watched sunset with champagne. It was great! Then we got ready to go see "The Big Easy" production show again. Finally, they had it and we had seen it before so it was kind of boring to us. Then we went to a comedy show, then "The Legends" show & another comedy show. We enjoyed the latter 3 shows very much. 4/27/12-Conclusion & 9th Day at Sea- Today is the day we get ready to go home. It is bittersweet because we had the most wonderful time. This has been the best vacation ever. But on the other hand, I miss my boys & am ready to get back home. This cruise is maybe 2 days too long for us. While we really, really enjoyed the down time before & after the ports, we got a bit bored at the end. Plus, we are really disappointed in the weather & the rough seas. We have decided we will stick to Atlantic coast cruising from now on, with the exception of Alaska. So if we want to go back to Hawaii, we will fly. Some of my friends & family said How could you cruise for that long? I never thought I would be on a cruise that is too long but this one was just a tad. We slept in. We made arrangements for someone to pick us up at the airport tomorrow & we checked in for our flights. We filled out customs form & got our debarkation #1 because we are platinum members. We also checked our sail & sign spending, where we are actually doing well. Then we went for lunch. It is so cold outside! Our plans to port in Ensenada are cancelled because of the medical emergency earlier but we still have to stop there and get clearance because of "the Jones Act", which basically means if cruising from a US port, you must stop at atleast one foreign port. This is no big deal to us because we didn't have big plans in Ensenada. We were just going to stay close by & have tacos & margaritas. The captain said we can at least take a picture of Ensenada's night lights. He expected we would arrive there at around 11 pm. He also said "My wife cannot miss her flight". Captain Volpi is the best captain we have ever had. He was always out and about socializing with guests around Lido & we saw him and spoke to him a couple times at the casino bar. The first night at the casino bar, a gentlemen asked him who is driving the ship. He replied "Microsoft". That comment rubbed me the wrong way at first but he became a great captain with the rescue, the medical emergency & his personality. Oh and his wife was just lovely. We also spoke to him the night after the rescue and congratulated him and a couple crew members who were on the rescue boat. BTW, I heard that the gentlemen that went to the hospital in Honolulu is just fine. After lunch, we packed our bags. After dinner, we put our bags out and went to a final show. It was a 2 in 1 comedian show, which was the best show yet! I should note that all of the comedy shows we attended were the adult shows. Ship- This is the most beautiful of all the ships we've sailed with Carnival or any other cruise line. Very tasteful decor & very clean. Stateroom- Our balcony stateroom was just as we expected. DH told me to not let him talk us out of a balcony ever again because he forgot how much he liked it. Our room steward was good with no complaints. Summary- While I would not take this itenerary again because of the weather, rough seas & length, I would not discourage anyone else to try it for theirself. I can't stress enough how much we also enjoyed the down time. Sort of like, well there is nothing else to do, so we will just rest time. And Hawaii, it is just not to be missed! Hawaii has been my dream vacation since I was a little girl & it lived up to everything I dreamed of! Now, I should say I am very much a planner. I had 2 years to plan this trip and used every bit of it, researching the internet & reading message boards. I put thought into every detail & put it all into an app on my Iphone called TripIt. It was wonderful. I also printed the entire itenerary from TripIt, just in case. DH always gives me a hard time about how much I plan but has praised me on this trip because had it not been for my planning, many things could have not gone as smoothly. Debarkation- Everything went very smooth & our flight seemed very long home. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
This was my first-ever cruise. As of writing this review, I've now gone on a couple more cruises, both with Carnival, and looking back, the 5 day Baja Mexico cruise was a perfect little get-away. The ship was clean, and ... Read More
This was my first-ever cruise. As of writing this review, I've now gone on a couple more cruises, both with Carnival, and looking back, the 5 day Baja Mexico cruise was a perfect little get-away. The ship was clean, and comfortable. The room was clean and just exactly what you'd expect from a cruise ship room. The shows on this ship were particularly good. The cast and crew were very welcoming and friendly. The food was better on Carnival back in 2012 than it has been in recent years. This cruise had an incredible water slide. I'm not someone who enjoys those things normally, but I was peer-pressured into using this water slide and LOVED it. It was a total thrill to drop straight down, and then go over the side of the ship. Since the Spirit, I've been disappointed with the average slides on subsequent ships I've been on! I would recommend the Carnival Spirit to any budget conscious traveler looking for a nice get-away for the price. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We had a good time on this cruise - not a spectacular time, but a good and relaxing time. We were aboard the Spirit for this same cruise last September and had a wonderful time. After learning the Spirit is moving to Australia later ... Read More
We had a good time on this cruise - not a spectacular time, but a good and relaxing time. We were aboard the Spirit for this same cruise last September and had a wonderful time. After learning the Spirit is moving to Australia later this year, we decided to repeat the cruise. We purchased future cruise certificates while on board and received a great rate from our PVP so we booked this cruise immediately after returning home. This was our tenth Carnival cruise. We flew in from Kansas City on the 15th. We originally had reservations at the Holiday Inn directly across from the cruise terminal but our sons came down from Los Angeles for dinner and there were no more rooms available so we changed to the Residence Inn which is also very close to the cruise terminal. The hotel shuttle picked us up at the airport and provided transportation to the ship on the 16th. The Residence Inn is a good hotel. We had dinner on the 15th at Il Fornaio on Coronado Island - it was very good. Since our sons were with us, we were in no hurry to board on the 16th, so we had lunch at Anthony's. The service was very good and the food was okay - maybe a little expensive for the amount of fried seafood we received, but hey, it's San Diego and on the water - nice view. Embarkation - We last cruised from San Diego in 2008 and were expecting to embark at the new cruise terminal but embarkation occurred at the old terminal. We heard several stories about the new terminal - it was too small, they ran out of money, so we don't know. A HAL ship was also embarking so it was a bit confusing. There was a Carnival VIP line but then it merged with the normal Carnival & HAL lines to get through security. Once through security, things moved very quickly until we arrived at the line for the welcome aboard photograph and then the line to activate your sign & sail card which was taking place on the dockside rather than on the ship. All in all, it took about an hour and fifteen minutes to board after arriving around one o'clock. As first-time platinum cruisers we were handed VIP express signs which were basically useless - we just stood in line. Perhaps had we arrived earlier - say at 11am or so, platinum status would have been helpful. Our PVP had pre-arranged for a wheel chair for my wife but she didn't need it. I am not sure if the VIP luggage tags made a difference, but when we arrived at our cabin two of our bags were already there and the third arrived shortly. A room steward passing by told us that "somebody likes you." The ship looked great, we thought. We were in the same cabin (5124) we had been in during September and it was very clean. It was an extended balcony which is what we normally travel in on Spirit class ships. During the last evening when the Carnival legends show began we could faintly hear the music from the Pharaoh theater. We thought the crew did a great job of keeping the ship clean throughout the cruise. The muster drill went by smoothly and quickly and we were on our way pretty much on time. We had dinner the first night in the Steakhouse and it was very good. We even thought the service had improved over the excellent service we received during September. We had crab cake, lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and cheesecake. They still provide a complimentary bottle of wine with dinner during the first evening. When we made our reservations on line, we requested a specific table and Dora honored that request. We also bought a wine package of 8 bottles for $208 which included the 15% gratuity. Carnival has changed their wine selection - many of the lower priced bottles have screw-off tops rather than corks. Some of the selections are okay and some just so-so. The weather during the first two sea days was overcast and windy so we spent most of our time on the balcony relaxing, reading, and sleeping. Once we arrived at Manzanillo the weather was fantastic. My wife had knee replacement surgery during January so we weren't very active - only briefly leaving the ship in Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo - we did enjoy our time on the sun deck. Throughout the cruise, there was never any difficulty finding deck chairs. At Ensenada, we took the scenic coast or golden coast tour which consisted of a 45 mile or so drive up the Baja coast. It was inexpensive and a good tour to just see the countryside. There was a nice one hour stop at a seaside restaurant. We found the San Adreas fault area interesting. We thought that for the most part, the food was pretty good. There were a couple of occasions the food seemed cold. We dined during the 8:15 seating and it seemed as though it was left over from the early seating - I don't know. Our black bean enchiladas seemed "dried out" as if they had been under a warming light. The last night, I ordered prime rib and my wife ordered the mac n' cheese. Niether of the entrees was very good. The prime rib almost tasted as though it had been canned meat. However, all the starters were very good. Our wait staff team was very attentive. Overall, however, we were pleased with the food. Our breakfast and lunch meals in the Lido and main dining room were good. The more I cruise, the easier I am to please when it comes to food - I ate a hot dog for lunch twice and a turkey wrap sandwich twice as well. The lido buffet did become quite hectic on the last sea day before Ensenada and then for lunch at Ensenada as people were returning to the ship. Our table was a booth for four. We were surprised how many vacant tables there were during the late seating - I saw at least six tables for two that seemed to be vacant during the entire cruise. I would imagine anyone requesting a table for two during late seating should be able to have one. We were surprised at the demographics during this cruise. We thought of this cruise as a "spring break" cruise but there weren't that many young people aboard - maybe because it was 9 days. The ship generally didn't feel crowded. We tipped both our wait staff and cabin steward's team in addition to the auto-tips. We thought the entertainment was pretty good. There was a very good two person reggae/steel-drum type combo playing on the lido deck that we really enjoyed. One night the regularly scheduled show was cancelled due to electrical problems and another show substituted. Debarkation was a breeze. Platinum cruisers met in the Sports Bar at 8:30am and we were off the ship and through customs in 15 minutes. I was surprised they didn't ask for any ID. Once again, this was a good cruise and a good vacation at a fantastic price. There were a few glitches but nothing to spoil a cruise. Our next cruise is on the Carnival Miracle repositioning cruise from New York through the Panama Canal next March. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We just got home last Sunday from our 40th cruise overall - on the Carnival Spirit. I'm sure glad I didn't take the negative reviews to heart, because we found them to be quite unfair and didn't at all depict life on the ... Read More
We just got home last Sunday from our 40th cruise overall - on the Carnival Spirit. I'm sure glad I didn't take the negative reviews to heart, because we found them to be quite unfair and didn't at all depict life on the Spirit. Overall, I found this cruise pretty darn wonderful, and the ship to be in great shape. Embarkation: We flew into San Diego from SFO the morning of the cruise. We arrived at SAN at 12:15 and after a 10 minute taxi ride we arrived at the port. The line through secuity was a 15 minute wait - then onto the check-in line. We had been looking forward to the VIP Platinum line (no wait at all) but the regular line was moving quickly too, and their wait wasn't much longer than ours. By 1pm we were on the ship and heading to our cabin 5156. The sign let us know that the staterooms would be available after 1:30...so we headed up to Lido for lunch. The Ship and Stateroom: Some say it's older....and they're right. Still, the ship is in GREAT shape - and the decor and layout of the ship is wonderful. It's has a very unique design - check out some of the on-line pics and see what I mean. We booked a obstructed balcony cabin through the VIP Casino Player's Club special. I got an extra 25% off the lowest rate, plus $75 loaded onto my players card for the slots. Our cabin was a nice size...lots of room for the 4 suitcases full of stuff we brought. The rooms have been upgraded to include flat screen TVS, and there is a mini fridge, full-size sofa and hairdryer in each room. The bathroom is small but functional and also has a magnified mirror mounted to the wall, which proved to be pretty handy. Our cabin steward "Jonathan" was one of the best we've EVER had. He had a great attitude and kept everything spotless and perfectly functional while still being very un-intrusive. The Ports of Call My DH and I prefer to stay up until about 2:30 am and get up REALLY LATE when we're on a cruise - So, most of the time we didn't get up until nearly lunchtime. Since we had been to all these ports many times - the ship itself was our main focus, not the ports of call. Manzanillo. We've been there a few times before, and chose to just wander around the shops close to the port for an hour or so. Puerto Vallarta. My DH booked us on an excursion outside of Carnival before we left home. We were supposed to take a taxi and meet the group downtown in Old Town by 9:30. At 8:30 we left the ship and started looking for a taxi. The vans offered transportation to downtown for $3 pp each way. But, they needed to fill the van first. We were afraid of being late though. A taxi driver overheard and said he'd take us into town right away for $12 total - Uhm...okay. Once were in his cab and on our way, my DH showed him the address. At this point the driver said that it was MUCH further and it would cost $20 total. Are you kidding? But what could be do - right? The excursion was driving in our own dune buggies about 20 miles then going on a zip line, a trip to a tequila factory and lunch. The zip line was really fun but exhausting. I'm about 50+ lbs overweight and 56 years old.....the walking uphill climbing the steps to get to the zip line site was EXHAUSTING. After four of them I thought I was going to have a heart attack. When we got back to the dune buggy drop off location we found a cab to take us back to the ship. Cost? $3pp! Clearly we were robbed by that first cab driver! Cabo San Lucas. We were here two days in a row. The first day we just stayed on the ship and relaxed. The 2nd day was my birthday so we took the tender and spent an hour or looking at things in the flea market and shops near the pier before heading back to the ship. Ensenada. My hubby talked me into spending a little time in Ensenada and I'm actually glad I did. We've been there MANY times before, but it was a really nice day -- maybe 70 degrees and the town seemed far cleaner than usual that day. We took a shuttle ($3pp rt) into town and walked along the main street looking through the shops. We ended up getting quite a few little treasures -- all at a great price before heading back. The Food Breakfast - We only had breakfast once -- on disembarkation day, which we ate at the Lido buffet. I don't know if it really represented what everyone had on other days, but I found the selection to be VERY limited and the food just fair. Lunch - As I mentioned earlier, for most days lunch was our first meal of the day -- which we ate at the Lido buffet or the poolside grill. Lido has their buffet sectioned into several food stations -- each one with its own line and unique menu. They included: Salad, Dessert, Pizza, Poolside Grill, Sandwiches, Asian, and Daily Selection (Italian, Caribbean, American, etc.) I found the pizza to be just okay -- with very little flavor. It was open 24 hours a day. Self service ice cream and frozen yogurt is also available 24 hours a day. The Grill offered hotdogs, burgers, fries, chicken fingers...etc. We ate there several days when we couldn't find anything we liked at the other stations. Tip....if you get the chicken fingers...they don't offer any dipping sauces at the grill. I was able to get some ranch at the salad station...but it's a bit of a hike. Overall I found the food selection at Lido to be very limited, and just okay. Sushi -- Every day they offered sushi at no extra cost just outside the casino near the fountain lounge from 4p-7p. I'm not into sushi so I don't know firsthand how good it was, but my cousin and her husband ate there a few times and said it was delicious. Dinner -- We opted for the Anytime Dining plan. Most nights we ate dinner at the main dining room. We opted for Anytime dining, and there was NEVER a wait at all. We generally headed over there about 6:30 and either joined my cousin and her DH or asked to share a table with a group. I found the food here to be quite good for the most part. I also found the service to be excellent. Tip -- if you order a bottle of wine and don't finish it, they will keep it for you (so you can have it the next night) or allow you to take it with you to your room or a club. Nouveau Steakhouse - The last night of our cruise was me and my DH's Wedding Anniversary, so we splurged and made a reservation at the Nouveau Steakhouse. It was an extra $30pp but we had heard great things about it and wanted to make our anniversary special. We made the reservation over a week in advance and let them know it would be our anniversary. We arrived 10 minutes early, and noticed right away that the dining room was less than 20% full. They seated us upstairs in next to the door and stairway. As we were sitting there I looked around and realized it was probably the #1 worse table in the entire restaurant. I ordered crab cake appetizer, lobster bisque, wedge salad with blue cheese dressing and surf/turf. My DH ordered shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, wedge salad with blue cheese dressing and surf/turf. My crab cake was okay...but really nothing at all special but DH liked his shrimp cocktail. My lobster bisque was pretty good but barely warm -- but DH's French onion soup was HORRIBLE! It was DARK brown and sort of thick -- he said it tasted over-condensed and burnt. There was a soggy crouton on top with hardly any cheese on top. When the waitress came by to check on us DH mentioned his soup, and she said that "it was supposed to be like that" and some people didn't understand what French onion soup was supposed to be like. He tried to explain that it was his favorite soup....but she just smiled and took the plate away. A few minutes later a chef appeared at the table and said "how is your meal?" We just said "its fine" and he left. Afterward, we realized he might have been there in response to the soup but what could he say? Right about that time the captain came on the loud speaker and started talking about disembarking...at the same time we could clearly hear the horrible singer in the atrium bar singing several floors below. It's unfortunate that the layout of the steakhouse brings in all those unpleasant noises. It REALLY deters from a classy ambiance. Right about this time our main course arrived. Filet Mignon and a lobster tail with potatoes and veggies. It was good but not fabulous.... The dessert menu was VERY limited -- like 3 selections. I chose the apples on puff pastry and DH chose ice cream. Bottom line - If we had it to do over, we would have skipped the Nouveau Steakhouse and stuck with the Main Dining Room. It was absolutely not worth the extra $60 we spent! Entertainment. - Generally it's the overall entertainment that endears us to a cruise - Namely, the games and activities and the karaoke. We found the entertainment on this cruise to be fabulous! There were LOTS of various games and activities including trivia (sports, movies, TV, music etc) taboo, name that tune, Liar's Club, Game Show Mania, Marriage Game and LOTS more! I had a blast singing at karaoke EVERY single day! The karaoke host (Jay) is so funny and inviting! He is a show all by himself and makes everyone feel welcome and encouraged. The song selection is GREAT -- I never had a problem finding any song I looked for ...which is rare on a cruise. In addition, there were a couple people that brought their own CDGs and Jay had not problem using them instead. They recruited about 10 singers from karaoke to participate in the Superstar show on the last night of the cruise -- lots of fun. Also, there was a separate Guest Talent show. I was going to participate in that but the music director didn't have the music for the song I wanted to sing. Note to self -- next time I'm bringing my own sheet music! There were a number of stage shows including a number of adult-only comedy shows that were FABULOUS! Disembarkation -- We had to be out of our cabin by 8:30, and we went directly to Lido to have breakfast. Since we were Platinum we had Group 1 luggage tags and they were called by about 9:00. As we normally do, we completely ignored this -- and took our time. By the time we headed off the ship it was about 9:45 and the lines had thinned out -- piece of cake! We collected our luggage quickly -- no one asked to see our passports at all, and we were in a taxi heading to the airport by 10:00. Another great cruise! Read Less
Carnival Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 3.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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