258 San Diego Carnival Spirit Cruise Reviews

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
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
Sail Date April 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
Sail Date March 2012
This was mine and my husbands 5th cruise, 4th with carnival. We have only been to Mexico due to us living in Utah, it is more fees-able. This was our second balcony room, though this one was a surprise for my husbands birthday. It was hard ... Read More
This was mine and my husbands 5th cruise, 4th with carnival. We have only been to Mexico due to us living in Utah, it is more fees-able. This was our second balcony room, though this one was a surprise for my husbands birthday. It was hard to keep it a surprise though since he tries to be involved. I had been planning this vacation since about September of 2011 with two days prior in San Diego. We were road tripping from Utah to San Diego, about a 800 mile trip. We stopped about half way in Vegas. We have been to Vegas many times and have stayed in just about every hotel on the strip. This time was strictly business however since we were on a mission to sunny California! So i decided to book an off the strip hotel, South Point. It was FABULOUS! My first taste of steak n shake, umm hello deliciouness. We arrived the following day into San Diego and had a 2 night reservation at the Best Western Island Palms. OK just a preface: i am a research fanatic. I devote a TON of time into researching everything that goes into a cruise including pre and post. Let me just say that the Best Western Island palms exceeded our expectation 10 fold and definitely held up to their great reputation on Trip Adviser. We reserved the snooze and cruise package since we needed parking. This is one of the only hotel that will allow you to park more than 7 nights with no additional charges. I had the Marina King view in rm 530. LOVED IT!!!! We did the typical touristy things in san diego including sea world. Before we knew it it was 3/2..... EMBARKATION: I only have long beach cruise terminal to compare to but I cannot imagine another cruise terminal being more dis organized and hectic. Everything was rush, rush, rush. People yelling at you to go one way while other tell you the opposite. VERY chaotic however fast enough that it was to big of a bother. We arrived at 10am and were on the ship by 11:30am. SHIP: I have read numerous reviews on the spirit class ships and all have the same common opinion of the layout, wonderful. Well I will probably be one of the first reviews to say that I did not care for the layout one bit. It is so choppy. the lido is in two sections, the corridors in the cabins are chopped up rather than long hallways ( like a maze), and the atrium is not in view from every floor like most ships but rather only from a couple decks above. Other than that though, the ship is the most GORGEOUS I have ever been on. So ornate and rich in decor. Serenity was also a great place when you could find a chair. We snagged a clam shell chair for sail away and it was perfect. STATEROOM: I had room 7241, a balcony on deck 7 directly by the elevators and stairs. Let me just lay to rest those rumors of extra noise or foot traffic. It was so conveniently located and so quiet. I am a very light sleeper also. This sailing was sold out too so i know it was lack of people either. I would book this same room again. PORTS OF CALL: Manzanillo we decided to take a taxi to Las Hadas resort. We used their facilities for free and just paid as we went. BEAUTIFUL!!! highly recommended. Puerto Vallarta we had the Las Caletas excursion booked through the ship. It was just mediocre honestly. they said open bar on the boat ride to and from and while at las caletas. what they fail to mention is HOW OFTEN a server will fulfill your drink order or come by period. The sand there is very rocky and not the easiest to walk on. also if you have any mobility issues this is not for you. It is a little bit of a hike to get to the beach from the boat but what i never read in a review was the hike if you had to use the restroom. no fun. Plus the "mexican buffet" was not very mexican, very limited options for a picky eater. Cabo was GREAT!!!! We got off the ship and went straight off the dock and bought an excursion. We went snorkeling and whale watching for 4 hours, a REAL open bar on the boat, GREAT service, for 35pp on the Oceanus. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. After 2 days in Cabo we had a stop in Ensenada but we just did some shopping. As far as activities on sea days go we often found ourselves with nothing to do. For us though that was ok because we spent that open time simply relaxing. I didn't feel rushed or like I had 5000 things I wanted to do. The service on the ship was ok, not above and beyond any other cruise. Stu, the cruise director got on my last nerve. He just has an arrogance about him that I couldn't get around. Also most of the lounge singers were pretty bad. and the revues were mediocre. FOOD: I am a picky eater and most of the food even in the buffet has a gourmet flare to it. I never went hungry though so they were doing something right! We had anytime dining which was great but you just don't get the same attention or personalization. The best food we have every eaten was had in the Nouveau steakhouse. So worth the money! All in all after 9 nights we got used to the layout and the ship itself and had THE BEST CRUISE YET. There are positives and negatives to all in life but the pros heavily out weighed the cons. This was such a memorable cruise and i would recommend the Carnival spirit to all. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our first cruise on Carnival. We'd heard a lot of horror stories about the line, but were intrigued by the price difference. The old addage, "you get what you pay for," held true, but as long as you adjust your ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Carnival. We'd heard a lot of horror stories about the line, but were intrigued by the price difference. The old addage, "you get what you pay for," held true, but as long as you adjust your expectations, you it was a good value for the money. We arrived in San Diego at about 1:30 for a 4:00 sailing. It took us about an hour and a half to get on board. We had to wait in seveal lines before we boarded. That was something that we're not used to, but it wasn't too bad. Hey, when you're know that the goal is being on board a cruise ship, how can you complain? We booked a balcony room on the 8th deck (one deck below the Lido). We were concerned that we were right next to the forward elevators, and were concerned that there would be a lot of noise from the elevators and from traffic going back and forth. It was never a problem. In fact, we found the location to be perfect. Most of the activities on the sihp took place either on decks 9 and 10 or 2 and three. We found our location to be centrally located and easily accessible to all the other parts of the shift. We'd heard a lot of stories about how gaudy Carnival ships could be. We found the ship to be elegant in its decoration. There was a lot of dark wood, which gave it an elegant appearance. Everywhere you went, you saw staff members cleaning. It was probably one of the cleanest ships on which we have sailed. Its also hasa a pretty intuitive layout, which makes it easily to navigate. One of our favorite places on the ship was the Serenity deck. This is an adults only area on the back of the ship. It was a great place to relax. I am a person who generally see's eating as a functional activity. Food has to be either very good or very bad for me to take notice. I thought the food on the ship was below average. It just tased like institutional food for the most part. We were told that eating in the Steakhouse was a must, so we booked a reservation on the last night. In my opinion, it was not worth paying $30 pp extra. The food, nor the service was that much different than what we had gotten in the MDR. I would not do it again. There were also lots of lines in the Playa Grill (Buffet). Once or twice, we decided to just wait and come back later. Seems like the staff could have opened more buffet lines at times. Perhaps our biggest complaint was the apathy of the crew. We are used to seeing the crew go the extra mile to make guests feel welcome and to ensure this is a special experience. That wasn't the case here. With rare exception, you were doing good to even get a smile and a good morning from the staff. We thought this carried over to different ship activities. Most just lacked polish (sp) and were rarely on time. One of the best examples of how the staff seemed out of touch with passengers occurred in the night club. They had scheduled latin music (on a Mexican Riviera Cruise) from 10:00 - 11:00. Everyone seemd to enjoy it, and there were losts of folks up dancing and having a good time. At 11:00 on the nose, the DJ switched the music to techno music. The floor cleared almost immediately. After about fifteen minutes, someone asked the DJ to play some more latin music. He informed them that the latin music ended at 11:00. Really? I won't go into the ports, as I don't think that has a lot to do with the cruise itself. Disembarkation was fairly smooth, other than the fact that some of the Canadian citizens did not report to the Theater as request to clear customs, which ended up causing disembarkation to be delayed. That wasn't Carnival's fault. Also, passengers congregated around the gangway, making it difficult to get the people who's numbers had been called to leave. Once things started to flow, they flowed pretty smoothly. We were the last group to be called to leave, and I think we were off the sip by about 10:30. Overall, I wouldn't say that our experience was intolerable, by any stretch of the imagination, but I would say that it just wasn't up to the standards that we came to expect from Royal Caribbean and Princess. However, I cannot deny that the price is intriguing. We have decided not to draw any conclusions about Carnival from this one experience, and will make them our first repeat experience on a cruise line. We're booking another trip on Carnival for next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
The first time we did a cruise it was a 9-day Mexican Riviera on the Spirit. This time it was on the Spirit again, but with the 5 kids ages 16, 15, 15, 13, and 12. Also with 3 grandparents, 2 nieces, and 1 sister-in-law. My wife and two ... Read More
The first time we did a cruise it was a 9-day Mexican Riviera on the Spirit. This time it was on the Spirit again, but with the 5 kids ages 16, 15, 15, 13, and 12. Also with 3 grandparents, 2 nieces, and 1 sister-in-law. My wife and two girls stayed in room 4195 which was on level 4 with french doors and an obstructed view. We could see a little between the life boats in this room. Having fresh air is a MUST for me when I cruise. I love to have the door open at night to hear the sounds and smell the air. The Spirit allows for this pretty cheaply with the obstructed view. You can't walk out on to anything, but you do get the fresh air. When researching I noticed that manly of Carnival's ships don't have this obstructed view. You can get a window down lower, but the window doesn't open. The room had the double twin beds pushed together with a Pullman style bed pulled down and the couch made up as a bed. My 13 and 12 year old daughters occupied these. There is PLENLY of enough storage room in the cabin. Between the two closets with hangers, the wardrobe thing, the drawers, and under the bed we had more than enough room. I should have brought additional hangers though. My three sons, 16, 15, and 15 were 2 doors down from us in two twin beds separated and a Pullman style bed above the couch. Two grandparents and a niece were on level 4 as well, but further down and had a balcony. The sister-in-law and another niece where farther down on the opposite side. They were in an accessible cabin. She had a scooter type wheelchair. This room was plenty wide enough at the front door and the bathroom door. There is extra room in the cabin and bathroom. She had a window that didn't open with an obstructed view as well. This was GREAT for her and allowed her to cruise. There are a very limited number of these rooms, PLEASE don't book one of these unless you really use the wheelchair to get around. The last grandparent was up on the 8th level in an extended balcony cabin. It did have an adjoining door that locked. The sound came through the door a little and the neighbors where noisy from time to time, but this grandparent was hearing impaired so it didn't matter. This room was the same type of room my wife and I had the first time we cruised on the Spirit. We did not have a locked adjoining door in our room and never heard our neighbors. If it were me I would try not to get an adjoining door if I didn't need it. I am sure that you will find the rooms basically the same for all the Spirit class ships (Spirit, Pride, Legend, and Miracle) Well that is the room report and experience. Being a spring break cruise it had good parts and bad parts. Firstly, and most importantly, being spring break we were actually able to go on the cruise seeing the kids had school. Another good thing was that the kids has plenty of "friends" to play with in Club O2 and Circle C. Club O2 is for 15 to 17 year olds and Circle C is for 12 to 14 year olds. The kids were able to check themselves in and out of there as they wanted to and used it as they wanted to. The bad thing about spring break were all the college age kids getting smashed and puking on the decks. Ok, I only saw that once. But the college age kids seemed to think everything was about them and were often rude in their behaviors. They were crazy down on the beach in Cabo San Lucas. One of the kids workers told me that security was caught off guard the first few nights with they college kids and that they were "out of control." It wasn't a drunken orgy fest, but it kicked the stress factor up a little and made the cruise a little less relaxing. The shows were ok, nothing super special, but you can find some good stuff according to your taste. They really push this big New Orleans dance thing that I really didn't like, nor did anyone else in my group. I didn't like it the first time I saw it on the last cruise. They need to come up with something else. The direct service staff couldn't have been better. The room steward was great and from the first meeting he knew who we were and called us by our names. He must have studied the security photos they take when we get on, or he has a GREAT memory. Andrea in the dinning room and Putu her assistant where the BEST. My kids wanted her to come home with us. I feel like whatever I write will not do her justice. If you are on the Spirit get seated for breakfast or lunch with tall Andrea from Romania. We purchased quite a bit of Inch of Gold in the shops. I know it isn't all gold, but it looks just as good, it is stronger and much cheaper. No gambling this time, we lost too many quarters on our first cruise. The ship recently came out of dry dock for some upgrades. Things added in the year since our first cruise? The new 21 or older only Serenity area. This is out on the old fantail back deck. They said they don't even allow kids to go find their parents there. They have to send a message with a crew member. There is a new water slide that is very exciting. You get in this vertical tube that closes, you hear this count down from 3, then the bottom drops open, you get "flushed," you circle around in this tube (out over the edge of the boat) and end up in a landing area. One of the crew members told me it is the fastest water slide on any cruise line. There is also a whole water experience up where this slide is. Lot of water splashing around with buckets dumping for the kids. I am sure more things where done to the ship, but nothing that I noticed. The food was good during our dinning time and in the buffet area. Better than I normally eat at home. I am NOT a food snob so everything, except the scrambled eggs on the buffet, was great. We didn't do the Carnival soda program and that was fine as our family only drinks water at home. You get lemonade, unsweetened tea, water, hot tea, and coffee anytime of they day. You get fake orange juice and some other corn syrup juices at breakfast in the buffet area. You can get real juice in the sit down dinning room. This ship does not have a movie theater. I understand some of the larger classes of Carnival ships have outdoor movies. This is something that I would enjoy. Come September the Spirit is headed to Australia, never to return so if you are going to cruise on it you better do it soon. The Pride is out of Baltimore, and the Legend and Miracle are out of Florida. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Let me start by saying we are the type of people who believe that any vacation is what you make it and therefore, can have a good time pretty much anywhere. And we did on this trip. It was a wonderful 9-day vacation although there were ... Read More
Let me start by saying we are the type of people who believe that any vacation is what you make it and therefore, can have a good time pretty much anywhere. And we did on this trip. It was a wonderful 9-day vacation although there were definitely some ups and downs. We've cruised on Disney, Carnival and NCL all 7-day's or longer. When we chose this cruise we did so knowing that we were getting "what we paid for." Carnival is inexpensive in comparison but is a good value for our family of four. Embarkation in San Diego was strange. We arrived at 11:00 a.m. and were on the ship by 12:30. There was some waiting but it was fine. The terminal is small and they use white tents set-up on an asphalt parking lot as additional waiting area. The baggage check was outside and a bit disorganized. Not really what one would expect from a home port that has been hosting cruises for any length of time. The buffet we had for lunch before sailing was terrible. We love a good meal and have eaten in some very nice, very good places but don't really consider ourselves "foodies." There weren't many choices and what was available tasted like leftovers from the previous cruise. Luckily it did get much better throughout the trip. Look carefully or you'll miss the prepared to order stations which are hidden behind the buffet lines. There just isn't space for them anywhere else. I'd equate the quality of food to what you would find at Home Town Buffet with maybe a more little flair. We did eat at the steakhouse one evening and really enjoyed that meal. In our opinion it was well worth the additional $30 per person. We chose your time dining as we don't like to be held to an early or a late seating. I'm not sure if that option was a good one. Of the 9 nights we went the dining room 3 times. As I mentioned we have two children and the service was painfully slow. Two of the dinners took roughly 90 minutes. Way too long with kids sitting at the table. The food was decent but wasn't worth the wait. The service elsewhere on the ship was very good. Everyone was friendly and efficient. The barista at the coffee shop in the buffet was awesome. The staff at Camp Carnival were incredible. Very welcoming and remembered our kids names when they saw them out and about on the ship. As always there were tons of activities for the kids. We enjoyed all the activities we chose to participate in (bingo, game shows, listening to karaoke, trivia). Went to Punchliners and had a good time listening to family friendly comedy. I cannot recall their names but the second comedian was much better than the first. The stage shows were boring!! Geared, in my opinion, to a much older generation. Definitely in need of some updating and some variety. All four of us loved the new waterworks park. Green Thunder is surprisingly fun! The ship boasts typical wild Carnival decor but we found it clean and in good repair. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Travelling with two teen boys we were looking forward to a great Springbreak vacation and the Carnival Spirit delivered. Embarkation was fine, though a little chaotic as there was two ships preparing to leave at the same time and it ... Read More
Travelling with two teen boys we were looking forward to a great Springbreak vacation and the Carnival Spirit delivered. Embarkation was fine, though a little chaotic as there was two ships preparing to leave at the same time and it seemed as though the port was barely able to handle the people. We arrived at about 11:15 and were on the ship at 12:30 - so all in all it was decent. The ship was clean and well kept. The new Green Thunder slide was great and open regularly. My kids were too old for the waterworks area, but it looked new and shiny and was popular with the toddlers. The Lido deck is one area where we feel the ship sort of shows its age in terms of design. We enjoy the seaside theatre on the newer ships and the larger pool area that comes with that (personal preference). Also, there are three pools to sit around tables on the Lido deck. One of the pools is the new Serenity area for adults only (which is very well done)...the other two pools are 50% smoking around the tables. In other words, if you don't smoke and you have kids there are not a lot of poolside tables to eat/play cards or just hang out around on a busy cruise, particularly around lunch time. In fact, I think the entire starboard side of deck 9 and 10 are smoking. The food was good, especially in the MDR. We had intended to have one meal in the Steakhouse but changed our minds because the dining room was great. The buffet was fine too. The ports were surprisingly enjoyable considering this is the third time we've cruised Mexico. Manzanillo was clean and friendly. PV was the best I've ever seen it. They have really improved the Malecon there by shutting it off to cars. We found a great spot there and had dollar drinks. Cabo was the best as usual...we booked a whale watching excursion right on the boardwalk after we got off the tender for $35 per person. Ensenada was more or less a waste of time. I'm not a prude by any means, but some of those bars on the main drag were a little over the top if you have young kids in tow. Things that I would improve: Drink prices are high...I expect that. My advise is don't bother buying the prepaid drink vouchers to offset the prices. They clearly say they can only be used on drinks $5.75 or less. That means only beer or a glass of wine essentially. They will make exceptions and take them quite often at their discretion, but we were also refused a few times. We ended up just giving the coupons to our kids for the virgin smoothies. Also as I alluded to earlier, we didn't love the smoking policies. We went to the casino a few times and twice saw unhappy people (one time a guy was hostile to a young female employee) giving the staff a hard time over the smoking boundaries. You expect smoking in a casino, but there should be a reasonable and clear structure for the benefit of everyone. Lots of fun activities on the ship. All three comedians were great. There was a family friendly juggling act that was good. The hypnotist was fun too. The musical acts were our least favorite but not bad by any means. Lots of trivia and games that were good. Mini golf looked brand new. Two ping Pong tables...Lots of fun. All in all Carnival delivered and we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Carnival Spirit, 5 nights, Feb. 12-17, 2012 sailed from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. A friend and I shared a super cheap cabin category 1A, inside. Cabin 1255 is the same size and shape as more expensive interior cabins. As this was ... Read More
Carnival Spirit, 5 nights, Feb. 12-17, 2012 sailed from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. A friend and I shared a super cheap cabin category 1A, inside. Cabin 1255 is the same size and shape as more expensive interior cabins. As this was just a quick cruise, the cabin was fine though I always prefer a balcony. The cabin location worked out well, we had quick access to the elevator aft, and also to the dining room one level up the stairs. San Diego Hotel: I booked Vagabond Inn San Diego Mission Valley for Saturday Feb. 11, 2012 on Priceline bidding $40. My bid was accepted and with taxes it came to about $53. However, upon arrival the bed was a king. We needed 2 beds, so I was told the clerk would only charge me $15 more to switch to a room with two beds. He actually charged my credit card $22.50, something I did not know until my statement came. The room was very spacious and quiet as it was at the back of the hotel lot. Cruise Parking: I made reservations for parking my car during the cruise with San Diego Airport Parking Company, which can be found online. The price with their online coupon was just $7.75 a day. What they don't tell you is that the day begins at the time you check in, and the day count ends when you check out. There are no partial day prices of which I was aware. If you don't get you car picked up by the same time you checked in, you will be charged for another day. I still think their service is great as are their prices. Their shuttle was immediately available to take me to the cruise ship. They were very helpful, clear, and professional and I will always use them in the future for any travel plans out of San Diego. Whale Watching: In Cabo, we walked to the end of the pier and saw a booth advertising whale watching. We learned that they were asking $35 per person. That seemed like a fair price, though in Mexico everything is negotiable so we got the price lowered to $30 each. Some of the others in the group paid $35 each, but that included the rental of a snorkel, fins, and mask. It also included being dropped off at Lover's Beach so they could snorkel, and then picked up a few hours later. We too were given the option but decided it would be too tight of a time squeeze to get back to the M.S. Spirit before it debarked for the night. The whale watching company was Eagle Divers dot com. We began with an up close tour of Land's End. I was very pleased when the boat captain noticed I was trying to get some photos without other boats in the picture and he made a point of waiting until I could, and also of positioning the boat for an optimal picture. The whale watching boats communicate via radio with each other, so although we were told our boat would be going north on the Pacific side, our captain headed north in the Sea of Cortez. I noticed because I am familiar with the area, and also because the land was on our LEFT side. The captain never told anyone, but it did not matter. We were out there to watch whales. The day was sunny, but the sea was very choppy. I noticed that our captain made the effort to minimize the choppiness of the ride. I was actually surprised at how far north he took us, which was aways past Chileno Beach. We went north and then east and after awhile we spotted whales spouting. Soon we were near a lot of whales, who seemed to put on a show for just us as we were the only boat out there upon arrival. We got to watch many whales spy hop, dual fins up in the air, and quite a few jump up high and spin before crashing back into the sea on their backs. I took great video and photos, as did everyone on the boat (there were about 11 of us so the boat never felt crowded). The captain stayed a long, long time to allow us all to keep watching. There were about 3 other boats before we left. He then took us to Lover's Beach and dropped off the snorkelers, offering again to drop off anyone that wanted to stay. It was a great trip, being just about 500 feet from the whales. The captain was very respectful of the whales. I think the bad rap that the Mexican whale watching companies get is unjust. I found this trip followed the same rules I have seen followed in the U.S. regarding respect for the whales. The boat had shade or sun, life jackets (though we were thankfully not required to wear them) and a bottle of water was offered to us. Restaurant in Cabo: After the excellent whale watching, we walked through the pier huge white building complex, turned right and found a taxi. We negotiated a fare of $8 (which I thought was high, but taxi prices are always higher near the pier) to go to "Maria Corona Restaurant." Their menu can be found online along with a picture of inside their quaint but large restaurant. Each plate was a work of art, very beautifully presented. The mole sauce was mouth-watering, and I was able to have it on cheese enchiladas at no extra cost. The little tacos were surprisingly filling, with 3 on a plate and very unique ingredients inside such as squash blossoms. I had a mango margarita. It was a bit small for the price, but potent and tasty. We ordered the guacamole, which was prepared tableside. It was yummy, and I liked that the server asked how much of each ingredient we wanted added. The flan melted in my mouth and was worth the price just to see the presentation. Each dish we ordered was delicious. I cannot recommend enough going to this restaurant. It was worth every dollar. The atmosphere was pretty subdued when we were there for mid week lunch, but I can see where it would get louder and busier at night. They called a taxi for us. The driver asked for $10 to take us back, but he took $8. At the pier we avoided the long lines for the tender by browsing the flea market that is right there. I found that only a few of the vendors wanted to drop their prices to what I know is reasonable. I go to Baja frequently, so I have a good feel for what prices should be. So, if you think an item is too highly priced, just keep looking around and you will likely find the same item at other booths and perhaps one vendor that wants to make a sale. Prices flucuate a lot, so get several prices before buying if you want a deal. This flea market tends to be higher priced as it caters to the cruise ships, so be smart in your purchases. I bought a bottle of vanilla extract, and also a bottle of clear vanilla extract. They are real extract, though not as strong as pricier ones in the U.S. But they work just fine for many dishes, and the clear vanilla is great for icings. You can boil them to reduce and strengthen their flavor. I also picked up a few of the wonderful little toy creatures that bob their heads at just a dollar apiece, which is a typical price. I found one vendor with a varied selection of which some I've never before seen. I bought a dinosaur, a sting ray, and a rooster. In the white pier buildings, I found a great hat shop towards the back, away from the ocean. The hat prices were comparable to REI, and hats were already tagged with the prices. Day Two in Cabo: Salsa & Salsa: This was a ship excursion that proved to be quite popular considering the number of people in the group (perhaps about 50). We booked it ahead of time online prior to the cruise. If you want to attend it on a non-cruise day it cost $50 per person. But if you want to attend on a cruise day, you have to book through the cruise line and Carnival charged $100. I really hesitated to do such an expensive excursion but afterwards I felt it was worth it though my friend did not. After a tender ride from the ship to the pier, it was easy to find where to go because of signs held up high as you exit the tender. After a long wait (due to a couple that arrived 15 minutes late-- I personally felt it was wrong for the driver to make 48 other people wait on these two), we were herded two by two to a waiting luxary bus. A short 10 ride took us the two miles to the Pacific side hotel where the event was to be held. Despite what you may read on other travel websites, we DID not get a margarita thrust into our hands upon arrival. We were offered hisbuscus tea as we entered a pavillion. The tea was good, but I was expecting a margarita as advertised. People were paired according to whom you came with. I would have preferred being placed with someone that liked hot spicy salsas instead of my friend who would only add half a chile to each salsa, and sometimes none. There was a definite rift between us, as I was the other extreme. We finally tried to make the salsas and I would then add more chiles to mine. That worked out okay, but reduced how much of each salsa we could have. We made 7 salsas. Margaritas finally started to arrive, but service was very difficult when you wanted a refill. And the glasses were very small. There was only one type of margarita offered: blended regular (not fruit) as advertised. I preferred mine on the rocks, and had to keep asking for that special which took a long time to get refills. They brought taquitos and very small quesidillas to eat with the salsas. I do not eat meat, so I could only eat the quesidilla. I had to nearly beg for a second one and finally the gal said, "okay, I guess you can have another quesidilla since you did not have any taquitos." I felt they were very stingy on the food. I also wanted more roasted chiles and never could get any. It was fun to make the salsas, I just thought they were stingy on the ingredients. The woman talking over the speaker was very clear and lively. It was easy to hear her over the crowd. After the food was cleared away, we were given a salsa dancing lesson. They did an excellent job of dumbing it down. My friend disappeared as she would not dance. I did not have a partner, so I just danced by myself which was fine. At first everyone was lined up to learn, but then they said to partner up. I noticed a lot of people sat down at this point, but I just kept on dancing to learn it more. I had been afraid it would be awkward, but I never felt that way and had a good time. Afterwards, we were given the choice of an immediate ride back or staying at the very nice hotel for a little over an hour. I stayed. The Pacific Ocean was gorgeous; the soft sand beach nearly empty; and the water wasn't too cool. But you cannot ocean swim here, the currents would drag you out. The hotel offered a swimming pool which had solar heated water. That meant that in January it was just barely warm enough to tolerate. There were nice chairs around the pool, and an open bar. I thought it was a fun day, but I would not do it again in Cabo. I felt they were stingy on the food and on the drinks, though very entertaining. I might do it again in another port, maybe. I hope this has helped you with your cruise planning. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Ages 43 and 51. Like traveling independently in port. 13th cruise, 2nd Carnival.We have sailed a number of different lines. Embarkation was terrible. 2.5 hours. Not sure if this has more to do with the port or Carnival. Probably a little ... Read More
Ages 43 and 51. Like traveling independently in port. 13th cruise, 2nd Carnival.We have sailed a number of different lines. Embarkation was terrible. 2.5 hours. Not sure if this has more to do with the port or Carnival. Probably a little of both. This was our first balcony cabin and we really took advantage of it. We had a pot of coffee delivered every morning. This is a good ship to score a balcony cabin for a very fair price. The room was nice size but tacky. but that could describe the whole ship. We had the best steward (Tri) that we could remember. He never disturbed us, and our room was always perfect. We did not use any of the amenities except the gym-which we loved. Probably my favorite if all cruises. They said it was recently remodeled. Oh that and the slide. We went down the huge green slide which was terrifying, but mercifully over quickly. We did not go to any shows-too corny. The few times we listened to the musicians play, they sounded like a high school band. The show band and a good singer came out for the return guest party. The singer was great! I heard the comedian railed on all the obese people on board. WOW. I am surprised he did not get tossed overboard given the majority of the guests had not missed a meal any time lately- or ever. Food really WELL below average. The last time we sailed Carnival in 2001, the food was pretty decent. This was as bad as our MSC Mediterranean cruise, and possibly worse than our second Norwegian...which is bad. However the sandwich grill station pretty good-particularly corned beef and pastrami. I don't eat gluten, so I did not have the bread but these 2 meats were pretty decent quality. A couple meals were pretty decent on formal night (Lobster and prime rib). Not a good choice of sugar free desserts so we opted for cheese plates for several desserts. At one point in the daily cruise letter, they had to say robes are not permitted in the main dining room. Yes, the main dining room. I AM NOT KIDDING. Don't bother dressing up for this one. People came to dinner in the MDR in shorts, vulgar tshirts, holey sweats, flip flops, baseball hats. On the two "cruise elegant nights most people actually decided to bathe and put on clean clothes for dinner, which was a welcome sight and smell. For the most part as you wish dining was slow and disorganized. We dined at the steakhouse on the first night ($30 each, free bottle of wine if you are there the first night). The starters were very ordinary. My tuna tartar was still frozen, the lobster bisque underwhelming. The steaks-Cowboy and Ribeye were excellent and definitely high end in quality. I regret that I was almost full when I got mine , because they were far better than the rest of the meal. Ensenada- not much to see. We will try and book an independent snorkel trip next time. Great massages ($40 hour) at a spa in town. It was called Massage and Facial Care 743 Lopez Mateos. Its down the street from McDonalds, which you cannot miss. We both agreed it was one of the best massages we had ever had. There was a shuttle from the ship into town-$2 in, $1 to return. Sea Day 1- spotty weather. Decided to do the wine tasting with food pairing ($15). We both found the experience interesting and educational. If you do this, make sure you do not "come hungry" as noted in the description. It is 4 small bites of food. Cabo san Lucas- Loved it both days. Upon arriving to the anchorage area (the ship tenders) you get a beautiful look of lands end, and as a bonus we saw dozens of dolphin's jumping as well as numerous whale spouts. Waiting for the tender was not bad. The first day the tours got off first, but in no time independent travelers were off. Day 1 -took a water taxi ($2 each I believe. It was sponsored by one of the beach bars) to Medano Beach and enjoyed a complimentary lounges and umbrellas at Billygen's Island (no charge "just eat, drink and tip us" said with a smile). Beach was great, beautiful clear water, vendors a little annoying, some jelly fish that day. Lots of boats and jet skis so you had to stay in the little swimming area which was fine. Cabo day 2. We usually never take cruise tours, but we had not really done our research and took the lazy way out and book the Santa Carolina and Chileno Bay snorkel. I was thrilled to only have 8 other people on our zodiac. The first stop was beautiful, but the water had more jelly fish than I had ever seen. Some stung worse than others. Other than the 2 people in full wet suits we made a hasty retreat out of the water. The next site had no jelly fish and was also beautiful. While it was very nice to get in the water, the snorkeling is not anywhere as amazing as much of the Caribbean. Water temps are also cooler. We had rash guards which helped. We saw whales from afar on twice on the way out, but coming back we go extremely close(about 50 ft) to 3 humpbacks. It really made the experience memorable. We then walked into town and hoped to find another spa as good as the one in Ensenada for a massage. It seems $20 an hour was the going rate, so we decided to go for it. Lets just say they tried to upsell my husband's massage, and leave it at that. We imagined how some poor lonely guy would go for it, and probably get shaken down...Anyway we ended up finding the best margarita ever at a place called the Monkey Bar, a little outdoor bar. The bartender squeezed the juices for it to order. Then a vendor comes by with a little cooler on a wagon, and I see a couple locals make a beeline over to him. So I am thinking this has got to be good...but my palate is so much more daring than my stomach. Do I play Russian roulette with my gut this early in my vacation? He was preparing and selling aqua chile to order. Aqua chile is basically fresh raw shrimp dressed (but not lime"cooked" ceviche)with fresh lime, habanero peppers, onion and cucumber. I pulled the trigger and won. Had the best dish of the entire cruise. Puerto Vallerta- The first thing we noticed was how hot and humid it was so we decided to check out a beach near port. Unfortunately the beach was not as attractive as Cabo, and the resorts fronting the beach wanted to charge $35 per person for a lounge. Water was murky looking and not worth it. Back to ship, took a dip in the pool, ate and took shuttle into old town ($12, because they only charges us as much as if there were people sharing the van, on the way back we found it would be $24 for a cab) . The city was interesting and enjoyable, took a shaded walk along the river. We took the city bus (5 pesos/ ~40 cents apiece) back to the ship. If we were to go again, we would take the bus into town as well as back. You can catch it up on the main road. I am thinking they would take US $ but the exchange rate would not be good! Manzanillo- industrial city. Cloaked in haze/pollution. But still an interesting town, not really set up for mass tourism, which actually made it kind nice to check out local places not geared toward tourists. Once again the water looked murky so we passed on going to the beach and trying to snorkel. 2 sea days-relaxing and pleasant! The adults only Serenity Lounge area is great. Although I did notice too much reserving of chairs. Also some ingrates had a boom box blaring country music one of the days. I guess they do not know what "serenity" means. While too numerous to count....Tacky/gross things seen: a man who shaved (electric razor) daily on a table at on the lido deck. Whisker hair flying everywhere. A lady removing and rinsing her food clogged dentures in the bathroom. The couple eating in their robes and slippers in the lido dining room. What, no curlers? Teens wearing pajamas and slipper to breakfast. Some of the ships photographers were pretty good. We purchased 2 photos which is 2 more than we have ever purchased. Get ready for this- who ever finished the pictures blacked out one of my teeth (A different tooth in each) in 2 different shots. I thought I was seeing things until I overheard another women saying she liked one of her photos but "I have a tooth missing in it-and I don't have a missing tooth" . I probably should have said something to the staff, but then who cares? I guess someone had to channel some passive aggressive energy. Lets just hope they don't work in the kitchen too... In the end we much prefer cruising the Caribbean, Yucatan, and Mediterranean. The snorkeling is better in the former 2 and culture, food more varied in the latter. Not that Baja does not have culture or great food, but it is hard to experience this without being overly hassled by vendors. But being able to walk to the cruise terminal from our home has its advantages, so we probably will sail again to Baja at some point.I would have been disappointed if I had flown to this cruise. Although we already have another Carnival booked (we endured a timeshare presentation to get a free 4 night cruise), we will probably not sail Carnival again after that given how unpalatable the food was. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We have been on the Spirit before. It has always been mediocre, but traveled where and when our lives permitted. The ship just returned from a two week drydock and it showed. The gym has been totally reconfigured and outfitted with state ... Read More
We have been on the Spirit before. It has always been mediocre, but traveled where and when our lives permitted. The ship just returned from a two week drydock and it showed. The gym has been totally reconfigured and outfitted with state of the art Life Fitness equipment. There is a new 21 and over pool and sun area that is just wonderful. Quiet (means no kids) and pretty at the back of the ship. These new improvements are wonderful and great additions to the ship. The rest of the ship is the same old mediocre Carnival product. The food is a disgrace. Folks in prison eat better quality and variety than Carnival offers. They don't even have enough good ingredients to make a good salad. Having been on other lines this is is normally a simple task, not on Carnival. Healthy choices are just plain bad. IF all you are looking for is fried food, burgers, chicken fingers and pizza you will be in heaven. There is a reason many guests exceed 300 pounds and keep cruising. If good healthy food is your goal, forget it on Carnival. The shows were ok, but nothing special. The Cruise Director "Stu" is from Australia and screams on the intercom all the time. The problem is that you can't understand most of what he says due to this thick accent. As a result, we just "tuned out" Stu. Carnival staff is totally indifferent to guests and guest requests. Carnival now assesses tips to guests. The employees essentially get the same tips whether they kill themselves or perform the bare minimum to keep their jobs. The bare minimum is the best effort you ever get. Any special request is usually followed by rolled eyes and a 50-50 chance it will actually happen. Kind of like socialized tipping. Everyone gets the same regardless of the output or effort. Because Carnival wants to sell drinks and each on commands a 15% automatic tip, drink service is amazing! Carnival is cheap and mediocre. Nothing bad, but certainly nothing above average at any level. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
So we usually do a cruise. This time to keep it simple we did The Mexican Riviera ~ again. This cruise was the fourth time for the "Riviera". First time for Carnival. The Cabin and balcony were great.Lots of storage and space ... Read More
So we usually do a cruise. This time to keep it simple we did The Mexican Riviera ~ again. This cruise was the fourth time for the "Riviera". First time for Carnival. The Cabin and balcony were great.Lots of storage and space under the beds for our suitcases, bath adequate with a "seashell" full of freebies ~ toothpaste, "Snore Strips" disposable razor, Cabin Steward Rahan kept it all perfect ~ and course there were towel animals every night ~ and mints. The new TV was abysmal ~ but we didn't cruise for the TV. The food was simple and sometimes a little like Applebees ~ but there were choices. The greatest plus for us was the "free" Espresso at dinner. Service at dinner was attentive and professional. We enjoyed the cruise and the ship. We found that the ship was a little dark for us the atrium small ~ but this all a personal preference. There have been a lot of cut backs in the cruise industry ~ but for the price of this cruise it was just what we needed. We enjoyed relaxing in The new Serenity area ~ with its great hot tub and pool. Lunch here was a quiet and relaxing time . The sunny weather set in after Ensenada. Cabo was great. We did Zip-Lining the first day and just walked to the beach the second day. Puerta Vallarta was another zip-line adventure ~ Extreme Canopy ~ well worth the money. Manzinillo, we took a tour to Colima wonderful archaeological tour and history of the area. Would we do the "Riviera" again, maybe, would we do Carnival again for sure. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Before embarking on my first solo cruise, I had read some negative things about the Carnival Spirit, including embarkation issues, so I was pleasantly surprised that conditions had dramatically improved since the Hawaii/Ensenado/San Diego ... Read More
Before embarking on my first solo cruise, I had read some negative things about the Carnival Spirit, including embarkation issues, so I was pleasantly surprised that conditions had dramatically improved since the Hawaii/Ensenado/San Diego cruise. I took the short cab ride from the San Diego airport to the ship and was aboard 1/2 hour later. Quickest embarkation I ever experienced. Of course, I had to wait for my cabin to be ready, but it wasn't a long wait and passengers were encouraged to go to the Lido deck for lunch in the meantime. Muster was carried out before the ship ever left the dock, and we didn't have to wear our life jackets, which I have had to do on all other cruises to date. The staff was efficient and friendly. This was not only my first time cruising solo (hubby said he was burnt out on cruises and so stayed home to pet sit) but it was my first time in an inside cabin. I thought I'd be claustrophobic, but the room was not cramped and I had no problem. My room steward was a friendly little fellow and attentive to his job. On this trip I participated in activities I normally would not have done if traveling with my husband, and had a wonderful time. I even went to a little kids' talent show which was a hoot, and joined some trivia teams and played Bingo. Despite the fact the casino got a substantial portion of my kids' inheritance, it was a lot of fun winning, while it lasted. Something that really impressed me was an invitation I received to a cocktail party for former passengers. Drinks were free and plentiful and I got in a lot of elbow-bending without signing one chit. Then, there was another farewell cocktail party later on in the cruise and I was kept supplied, once again, with more than adequate bubbly....again free. I liked the food......I like any food I don't have to spend time planning, shopping for, preparing, and cleaning up after. There were even a couple of unusual (to me) dishes (a pickled butternut squash appetizer and something called Indian Milk (dessert)that I tried to duplicate when I got home. Both of these were part of the buffet on the Lido deck. I only ate in the dining room once (on lobster tail night) and was disappointed. Cabo was wonderful, of course, and the shuttles to shore were well organized and went extremely well. I was somewhat surprised that the swimming pools aboard ship were both small, but it was fun watching people go through the water tube slides. One thing I could suggest that, if you are flying in to San Diego, you can take a taxi considerably cheaper to the pier, than taking Carnival's shuttle. The airport is only just 3 miles away and you can see it from the ship. I was among the first people disembarking when the cruise was over, and then had to sit on the shuttle bus until they had everyone on their list aboard the bus. I could have slept in. All in all, I was very happy with the Carnival Spirit and would cruise with her again. I see where she will be making the Alaska roundtrip from Seattle (my home base)this spring, so may just take hubby next time.....or not. :-) Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Intro - My girlfriend and I were feeling the need for a vacation back at Christmas time. Got on good old Travelocity and saw a decent deal for the Feb 4 sailing to Mexico on the Spirit. Carnival is the only line I've ever been on ... Read More
Intro - My girlfriend and I were feeling the need for a vacation back at Christmas time. Got on good old Travelocity and saw a decent deal for the Feb 4 sailing to Mexico on the Spirit. Carnival is the only line I've ever been on and I've done her sister ship, The Pride, a couple of times. I really do like the layout of the ship compared to others I've been on. So we bided our time and finally the day came! We got in our car and drove 5 hours to San Diego and checked in at the Best Western on Ash St., walking distance from the pier. They have a decent deal for staying the night and leaving your car with them. We explored the pier area and walked around Seaport Village for some shopping. Had dinner that night at a fabulous place in Little Italy called Bon Appetito. I was getting my stomach prepared to be perpetually full for 8 straight days! :) The next morning we had some time to kill, so we headed over to Balboa Park and wandered around there for a couple of hours. Still with more time to kill, we then drove over the Coronado bridge into Coronado and headed to SilverStrand Beach and walked it for a while. Beautiful weather which basically followed us the whole trip except for the last couple of days. Embarkation - this was our first cruise out of San Diego and the porters were a bit backlogged with handling the luggage so that slowed us down a bit. From the time we got there to the time we were on the ship was a bit over an hour. From other horror stories I've heard, I count myself lucky I guess. We found our room on the 5th deck on the very back of the ship, an Aft cabin with a decent sized balcony looking out the back of the ship. Speaking of ships, the HAL Oosterdam was parked next to us and those passengers used the same facilities to board the ship as we did. Boy, am I glad I wasn't on that ship! No offense to our dearly beloved senior citizens, but the average age of their passengers had to be around 70! We set sail about an hour late and were presented with a wonderful view of the nighttime San Diego skyline as we left the harbor. We sat on our balcony with a bottle of champagne and admired the view with our new neighbors. Very beautiful! Ship - As anyone who's been on a Spirit class ship can attest, the layout and design are well thought out, no encumbrances on any deck, you can virtually walk one end to the other unobstructed. If you like to jog, don't bother with that short jogging track on the Sport deck, you can jog around the whole ship on the Sun deck. 3 1/2 laps is a mile. Did that most mornings until the bloat of food and alcohol set in! :) Being in the aft cabin, our dining facilities were directly above and below us. Very convenient. Walking around, I felt like I was back on the Pride. The ship had a recent makeover and the Serenity deck was pretty, but you better get up early to get the good chairs though. And the area could have been more serene with some softer music. But at least it does drown out the sound of the smoke stacks. There is only one small hottub in Serenity and it was always filled with folks throughout the day. This cruise was mostly middle aged folks so the area never turned rowdy and drunken. We found quiet time in it during the evening under the stars though. Very cool and quiet. The gym has brand new exercise equipment and we utilized it every other day. A nice big hot tub is in there as well. My favorite part of the gym though was in the locker room. They have both Steam and Sauna rooms and I found these great places to sit and sweat out all the liquor I had the night before! :) Very cool showers too, with 5 different faucets hitting you from all angles. We did not utilize the spa, too pricey, especially when massages in Mexico can be had dirt cheap. Activities - On sea days we were either on the Serenity deck with our books during the day or relaxing in our cabin with a hangover. Did not hang out by the main pools at all and have to listen to that dammed calypso band or noisy kids all day. As a matter of fact, there were not that many children on this cruise at all. Nice break for us! I like to sing and this ship does not fail in giving opportunities to do so. I participated regularly at Karaoke as well as Superstar Live. That was a real kick, singing with a live band. I was also selected to be Elton John for the Legends show on the last evening. That was a blast as well! Laaaa, la la la la laaaa, la la la la laaaaa, la la la la laaaaaa! What I also like about Carnival is they have pianos all over the place. I brought my classical sheet music with me and was able to entertain some folks over in the Artist's Lounge area a couple of times. Food - I'm no food snob so I found the food everywhere just fine. The Lido buffet was where we did breakfast every morning and they had just about anything you could ask for in a breakfast. The MDR food was great most nights. We had Anytime Dining, and we NEVER waited to be seated, most nights we had the option to dine alone or with others, we went both ways throughout the week. Service in the MDR was prompt and courteous. We signed up for Chef's Table as well. That was the most fantastic meal I've ever had in my life. Well worth the $75 per person, especially if you like wine like we do. They never let our glasses go empty for the whole 4 hours we were dining. Ports - Cabo for 2 days. First day we tendered in and walked over to a resort all the crew goes to called La Finesterra. Really nice place on the ocean side of Los Arcos and we hung out there for a few hours before walking back to the marina to get on a Pez Gato catamarran snorkel tour. That was one hell of a workout on the ole liver, drinks at the swimup bar, drinks on the catamarran, followed by Chef's table that night. We were so zonked the next day, we didn't go to Cabo for day 2. In PV, we walked to the Krystal resort and hung out for a while and got 90 minute massages for $40 each. Awesome deal and a first class massage! After that we decided to be adventurous and walked the beach all the way to the Malecon! Probably a good 3 miles but it was a beautiful day for it. Found a hole in the wall joint that served authentic Mexican comida and had the required ice cold Pacificos to wash it down with. Yumm! Originally, I had planned to grab a taxi in Manzanillo and head over to the Tesoro resort for the day but seeing how early the ship was leaving that day, 3pm, we decided not to do that and instead walked around the downtown for an hour and got back on the ship. Ride home - After Manzanillo, the ship makes a frantic course to get back home to San Diego in time. Unfortunately, we found ourself heading into a 30 knot headwind the whole way home from the Baja tip, which caused some steady ocean motion. Myself, I love a rocking ship, and I slept like a baby, but the last 2 days were tough for those hoping to sun themselves topside. We got back into SD on Sunday morning and since we did the self assist debark, we were off the boat by 8:30am. All in all, a very successful and very fun cruise for us. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
The theme of this cruise seems to be disorganization and if this had been my first cruise it would be my last. The ship is poorly maintained and not in good shape. There are chairs in the atrium that most people would have tossed, paint ... Read More
The theme of this cruise seems to be disorganization and if this had been my first cruise it would be my last. The ship is poorly maintained and not in good shape. There are chairs in the atrium that most people would have tossed, paint is chipping etc. Beyond that, however, the daily tasks are not done promptly. Things like clean tables on lido deck, service restrooms etc are not done as quickly as in the past. Shows are mediocre. We did enjoy some of the comedy shows but some of them were also stale and repeats of previous cruises. It is chaotic getting on and off this ship. We got to the port about 11am and did not get on the ship until sometime after 1:30. Even shore excursions are poorly organized. Tendering was awful; announcements were made that people with Carnival shore excursions would be on the first few tenders but that was not the case. Repeatedly, it was announced that the new slides would be available for us to use on this cruise. The only people that got to use the slides were a production crew filming a commercial and Carnival staff. It was working well for them but guests were never able to use it. The production crew also monopolized the Serenity Deck on several days. Activities were not planned as frequently as other cruises. While shore excursions were good, the process of getting on/off the ship was tedious and disorganized. We enjoy watching movies but the same ones were shown over and over. They need to get some updates on movies. We still had fun but things need drastic improvements. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Our dissatisfaction with Carnival started on our last cruise before this one, 7 day Western Caribbean on the Dream Dec. 10th. We noticed then that the service, the attitude, and the entertainment offerings had diminished since our last ... Read More
Our dissatisfaction with Carnival started on our last cruise before this one, 7 day Western Caribbean on the Dream Dec. 10th. We noticed then that the service, the attitude, and the entertainment offerings had diminished since our last cruises three years prior. Plus, I came down with the cruise viris and was very very ill for two weeks after that cruise. So, it was with trepidation that we decided to go ahead with this Hawaii cruise which we had already booked in advance. We did think, that since we were now Platinum, we would get better service. But, as noted in other reviews, the embarkation was horrendous. We were told we could board early, so we got to the pier early. Big mistake. We waited four hours amidst mass confusion and continual lines, before we were finally given the go ahead to board. The whole process was messed up, including the lack of any information about what the hold up was. Then once aboard, the ship did not sail until well after 11 pm. Again, all seemed disorganized on the dock with loading of supplies and luggage. Our luggage was damaged in this process. And, when we asked for assistance with it, we were told there was nothing they could do for us...we would have to file a claim once we got back home. We were looking for a temporary repair to make the suitcase usable for our flight home. The first thng we did was book the "Behind the Scenes" tour, that we really wanted to see. But, it was delayed once..and then finally cancelled, with little explanation. That was disappointing. The ship was supposed to have a new slide functioning during our cruise, and that opening was postponed, and finally cancelled. The Spirit obviously was not ready for sailing after it's "rehab". The cabin upgrade we were supposed to receive from Carnival ( since there was a $600 decrease in fare from the time we booked and paid to the time of sailing) was a disappointment as well. The so called extended balcony as just a bit larger than normal, and it had one side blocked so we could only see aft or straight ahead. We did not consider this an upgrade at all, but a worse view than we would have had if we were in our original cabin one deck higher. So, definitely not a $600 value...when we conplained, we were told there was nothing they could do for us. We would have been happy with a bit of onboard credit and an appology. But, the service desk staff seemed uncaring about our displeasure. The staff was unenthusiastic, with the exception of one or two who actually called us by name, and were friendly. The food was good. We are not fussy, and only ate in the main dining room one night, so mostly frequented the buffets. Again, the staff there seemed less than enthusiastic, especially the pizza guy, who was not accomodating at all, and acted as if we were bothering him when we ordered. The shows were mediocre, at best. Not up to the shows we have seen in the past on other Carnival cruises. Since the weather was rough crossing the Pacific, there was little outside deck activities, and we spent alot of time playing cards and bingo. There were not alot of planned activities to occupy 8 days at sea. We relaxed, which was a good thing. But, we expected more activities planned by the staff or at least some decent movies in our room. Our biggest complaint was the terrible mattress in ourcabin. It was bowed in the middle, and hard as a rock. Must have been original to the ship. Never has my back hurt so bad from a bad night's sleep! Our steward tried, twice, to do something to fluff it up and make it more comfortable...but to no avail. The ship needs new mattresses! Hawaii is beautiful, and afterall, that is why we took this trip. But, I felt that we did not have long enough days in port to enjoy it to its fullest. The ship's excursions were overpriced, compared to what we could find on our own, but with the short port times, we were limited as to what we could do. The stop in Ensenada was a waste of time for the couple of hours we spent there. Disembarkation went okay for us, since we were amongst the first to leave. But, there definitely was a lack of communication about when we were to depart, and almost missed getting off with the first group. All in all, I would not recommend this cruise on this ship to anyone. We had a good time with the folks we met onboard, and in the ports. We made our own good time relaxing and enjoying the scenery and the company. But, Carnival did not make that happen. We did. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I would like to critique my experience on my first Carnival on Carnival Spirit to Paridise or so I thought. It was one incident after another, with Carnival Cruise line. Let me add that we have taken several cruises on Princess, Royal ... Read More
I would like to critique my experience on my first Carnival on Carnival Spirit to Paridise or so I thought. It was one incident after another, with Carnival Cruise line. Let me add that we have taken several cruises on Princess, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruise line. I have never experienced, the unacceptable operations, planning and initial service this ship displayed. My first experience with this cruise was to wait in line outside the San Diego terminal for over ninety minutes (this is after arriving at 1100 for a 1200 boarding) only to get inside to wait again for approx. 45 min, to wait again in another line to be signed in for your room and documentation and room card. At this time I was given a number only to wait again to get into another line to take pictures before boarding. I became very sick while waiting in line and I was allowed to not take the welcome aboard picture and board. The entire process would have resulted in over a three and a half hours before getting on the ship to find our 15 day cruise was now turning into a 14 day cruise. This all because Carnival planned poorly and their guests had to wait until 1130PM before we departed San Diego while provisions were being loaded, and then Carnival had the nerve to charge San Diego sales tax on alcohol while we waited in port to depart, missing the departure from San Diego . (totally unacceptable). It was not my fault Carnival had issues, and had to depart late. Carnival did not even apologize for the inconvenience nor did the acknowledge they did anything wrong. Second: my luggage never came up to the room, if my husband did not visit guest services and find my luggage sitting there, I am not sure when I would have received it. Third: I have always believed that a person who gets a good night sleep is a happier person. My side of the bed was so uncomfortable I have been sleeping on the couch, the steward put two egg crate foam covers to try to help the situation, he went out of his way to make us comfortable. However, I spent the entire trip sleeping on the couch. Fourth: Laundry. We tried to use the laundry facility on the seventh floor, the floor in which are room was on only to find out both washer machines were out of order. This was only after putting the laundry and soap in the machine. We were advised after calling guest services to use another floor, we went to the first floor to find both machines working but once again after putting are clothes, soap, softener and money in the machine, it would not work, we had to set the washer to warm (It was actually HOT) we found out too late and several pieces of clothing were ruined. The machine worked at such a slow pace it took over an hour after the other machine stopped. We had to reset the dryer twice at $3. 00 each time to find our clothes were still wet; this was a very small load. (Over four hours of our time wasted to do two small loads of laundry). We chocked this up to a bad experience and decided to give it another chance on the last day in Hawaii. One machine was working on the seventh floor. We put our clothes in soap, (1/2 box) softer and money everything was looking good until we open the washer machine to find all our clothing stained with soap. We had to run the washer again with only water to remove the soap stains. This ship was in dry dock for two weeks, exactly what was done? Clearly there were no fixes to the inside of the ship. The person responsible for the laundry room told us that they report broken equipment daily. (This should have been addressed and fixed while sitting in port in Hawaii). It is unacceptable to have a ship with over two thousand people on a 15 day cruise and have over three quarters of the laundry equipment knowingly inoperable. Furthermore, the waterslide which was advertised for this cruise inoperable the entire cruise. The cover for the indoor pool broke making it very uncomfortable/unable to use on the cold days at sea. The entertainment was fair at best, except for the dance/music shows performed in the Pharaoh's Palace, they were excellent. To summarize my experience on this ship: Let me say the spirit is a beautiful ship. Once reaching Hawaii it was beautiful, the staff was very pleasant and helpful. For the most part if you ordered room service or ate in the dining room the food was good, however the buffets when returning from tours were so bad we chose to eat off the ship while docked. The rooms were spacious and well kept. The sleeping accommodations, specifically the bed was horrible. The laundry room was deplorable as well as unacceptable. The water slide was nonfunctional for the entire cruise. The indoor pool was inoperable on the cold sea days returning to San Diego. The entertainment except for the show held in the Pharaoh's Place, (specifically dance and music) were at best fair. But, the fact that Carnival seemed to have no remorse they never showed concern or even apologize for the inconveniences they caused, again due to poor operational planning ,poor up-keep and poor follow-up. No fault of his/her customers. When we followed up with carnival cruise they told us that they could leave dock when ever they wanted and that we should have brought our damaged clothes to guest services, and that we were due nothing, clearly not even an apology. This totally unacceptable on so many levels. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Ok, my only cruising experience before this was 20 years ago on the old norway so i dont have a lot of foundation to compare this trip to. The upsetting things to me, would probably be far more upsetting to those of you that have more ... Read More
Ok, my only cruising experience before this was 20 years ago on the old norway so i dont have a lot of foundation to compare this trip to. The upsetting things to me, would probably be far more upsetting to those of you that have more experience on cruise lines. And the truth is I'm coming from this from a different perspective then many readers. So a little background. im a single 42 year old guy whos aging mother is now retired and wants to see the world but has no one to take her. So she drafted me for this cruise when one of her friends became ill and couldn't join her. For me, the good outwieghed the bad. And we'll get to the good in a bit. But the bad was downright maddening as it seems carnival inflicted most of its problems upon itself. first, Embarkation in San Diego was rediculous. The Spirit had just come out of drydock (new flat screen tvs, a rebuilt bar on the back end of the lido deck, and some fitness equip upgrades) and arrived in San Diego completly unprepared for a 15 day cruise to Hawaii. So first, i had to stand for 4 hours on the pier waiting for Carnival to let us board as there were nowhere near enough chairs available. Then Stu the Cruise Director kept promising over and over again, we should be leaving shortly. Now for me, i was just waiting for the casino to open and otherwise didnt mind. Heck, San Diego is far better in January then Northwest Indiana so i was content. But my mother, who by the way has some health issues herself including a bad back made worse by all the waiting around, was downright angry about missing the ocean view of the sunset against the mountains. Eventually, the very shortly in a few minutes arrived about 8 hours later we finally had our supplies on board and set sail around 11 pm, which was 12 hours after we were told to show up on the pier to board. furthermore, this habit of Stu's promising things will be fixed very shortly or in just a few minutes, and then in acutality the time taking several hours, of even days, occurred over and over again. The bus for our lua excursion to paradise cove was stuck in traffic. Two hours later it showed up and we arrived as the food was already being served. The new water slide was going to be ready by day two of the cruise. Well im here in my Indiana home now, and the slide still aint ready. My only other real complaint was the quality of food, mainly in the empire dining room (oh that and they failed to give us the dining time that was requested 7 months ago) not that it was all bad, the chefs do shrimp for example as well as anyone. But for God's sake a New York steak? how can anyone screw that up? They found a way. Prime rib was good filet mignon so so, overall the main dining hall was hit or miss depending on the dish. Also id stay away from the scrambled eggs on the lido deck. Both of us had minor nausea issues at different times that we think could be attributed to those eggs. That said heres the good. The Carnival sponsored excursions to kilaueaua and haleakauma are awesome (if ya dont mind a harrowing mountain ride or two that is) and snorkeling in kona is a must do. even paradise cove was cool once we finally got there. The staff was quite friendly and eager to care for any guest needs. While most of the shows were run of the mill (but funny)comics or dance events, the main one called the big easy was a surprisingly good spectacle with absolutely amazing transitions between scenes and dance numbers. Now the thing i was most pleased with on this ship wont be of interest to some of you. but with 5 sea days to Hawaii and back, it was perhaps the most important thing for me personally. The on board casino on the spirit was run like casinos in the mainland used to be run. With good live music every night. With waitresses (especially in the evening) that were always friendly and quick to refill your free after 1500 point alcohol beverages. And casino hosts that actually spent time mingling with the players and sent wine or the chocolate strawberries to room complimentary (excluding the losses of course) Dont misunderstand, the slots could be looser. But several did hit some pretty large payouts and overall the slot play was nearly the same as in the states. And most of the dealers were very outgoing and friendly with one or two exceptions. Being a longer cruise while school is in session on the mainland there seemed to be an inordianate number of retirees on board. I guess adults with school aged kids couldnt get away long enough for the troop. So if carnival continues this cruise in future years, anyone thinking of taking kids along may want to consider they wont have too many of their own age to spend time with. And be prepared to be blindsided by an out of controll scooter a few times The ship was kept very clean. While there was no organized theme to the appearance the variations of gaudiness lent themselves to an enjoyable atmosphere and loose time. And while stu wasnt very good at telling the truth about problems encountered along the cruise, he and his assistant gayve did have a quirky sense of humor that i appreciated and ingratiated me to them. My older mother however didnt share my appreciation for there brand of humor. Sort of a leno verses lettermen difference i guess. dinner may not have always tasted perfect, but the various dance numbers put on by the waiters made sure it was never boring. Oh, and the best talent on the ship was a waiter and aspiring singer named stuart from the philapines. Someone needs to discover that guy. Mom is trying to talk me into joining her for a cruise again to alaska in August. Ill probably go if i dont use up the rest of my vacation at work by then. Will it be Carnival? Honestly it probably depends on what the vip casino membership I just gained will get us. But Carnival did just enough to overcome the difficulties to at least make them a consideration for us. Hope this helps somebody out there. Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Carnival Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.4
Dining 4.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.6
Public Rooms 3.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.2

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