59 Vancouver to Alaska Carnival Spirit Cruise Reviews

We booked a 7 day cruise to Alaska last minute. We had cabin class 7A which is a partially obstructed balcony. The obstruction was at the bottom of the balcony and was the top of a life boat. This did not bother us at all and we were ... Read More
We booked a 7 day cruise to Alaska last minute. We had cabin class 7A which is a partially obstructed balcony. The obstruction was at the bottom of the balcony and was the top of a life boat. This did not bother us at all and we were happy to have the savings. Embarkation was not super quick, but we were traveling with a 3 year old and they put us in the expedited line, which was fantastic. I think we were on board in an hour, it wasn't horrible. The food was better than I expected and we ate mostly at the buffet. Made to order omelets in the morning, etc. great salad bar, lots of fresh fruit and good variety in the evening. Hot food was hot, cold food was cold, veges were not overcooked. Room was clean and spacious. I wouldn't say the staff on this ship is overly attentive, but it was fine, and I didn't feel ignored. My 3 y/o daughter LOVED camp carnival, to the point where I could hardly get her off the ship. She made lots of friends and was happy with the activities and staff. My favorite thing was the ship. It never felt crowded, there were lots of neat places to explore. We did not go to any shows, or participate in any activities. Our goal was to read, nap, relax, and recharge. Great bed, quiet room. This was the first ship to Alaska for the season and we saw Glacier Bay, which was excellent. Lots of eagles and whales seen during the cruise. The spirit class is now my favorite ship and I would definitely go on one again. I liked it WAY better than Emerald Princess, and somewhat better than RCCL Mariner of the Seas. Stu the cruise director was fantastic, good information, but not annoyingly intrusive like some cruise directors. Getting off the ship was the best EVER. We got up, went to breakfast and literally were in the middle of breakfast when they called our group to get off. No lines, no waiting in a theater with nothing to do. Dreamy. Very relaxing vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I would suggest this particular cruise to anyone looking for adventure and ready to go with the flow, especially for those amateur photographers. We enjoyed every port. I have 2 suggestions: 1-If you do one of the first couple of ... Read More
I would suggest this particular cruise to anyone looking for adventure and ready to go with the flow, especially for those amateur photographers. We enjoyed every port. I have 2 suggestions: 1-If you do one of the first couple of Alaskan cruises in the season, bring lots of layers that are thin and easy to add or stash in a "port" bag 2-Plan ahead before you leave and excursion for each port. We did this and it made it so much easier to navigate the ports. Plus, we had the advantage of seeing more than the port itself. We did not book through the cruise line but small local businesses we found online. The Nouveau steakhouse was delicious. We went the first and last night of the cruise. We received a free bottle of wine with our dinner on the first night, which we asked our server NOT to open (which we enjoyed later in the cruise). The escargot, surf and turf, lamb chops, cowboy ribeye, lobster tail, and cheesecake were tasty. TIP: Ask your server for a cheese plate (with extra crackers) "to go" to take back to your room, yummy! The comedy shows, hypnotist shows and the big jazz show were all very entertaining. If you want to truly enjoy glacier bay, I would suggest getting a balcony for your room. Then on that day order room service for breakfast and lunch (45 mins before you actually want it). Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Very impressed with the Alaska cruise I took with Carnival. The cruise left from Vancouver, cruising the inside passage of Vancouver Island. The cruise offered inside passage for the first full day (east of Vancouver Island), juneau, ... Read More
Very impressed with the Alaska cruise I took with Carnival. The cruise left from Vancouver, cruising the inside passage of Vancouver Island. The cruise offered inside passage for the first full day (east of Vancouver Island), juneau, glacier bay, skagway & ketchikan. The full day was a return to Seattle in the open waters. Embarkation was not great, and that was for me the low point of the whole cruise. We were all seated in Canada Place, little to no communication from Carnival or the cruise port employees. The one 30 second spiel from a port employee to inform us the reason for the delay consisted of saying the ship had been delayed getting into port due to bad weather (not true, someone from the roll call who was in Vancouver that AM saw the Spirit in port at 8AM) and to sit & wait our turn - don't try to sneak into the line to get on the ship ahead of time because "we'll be watching you. And if we catch you trying to cut the line you'll be sent to the very back of the group & have to wait even longer to get on the ship." That was it for communication, no further updates. We were delayed a couple hours getting on the ship, and sail away was 90 minutes late, which didn't help the informal m&g that was planned for our roll call. But once we were on the ship, our cabins were ready so we immediately dropped off luggage. I loved my cabin, a 9A obstructed view balcony. The cabin was spacious & looked more like a suite than a regular cabin to me. There was a nice bar with granite, granite table & also the bathroom had a granite counter top & floor. It had a nice sitting area & the space was worth it to me to have the obstructed balcony. Cabin also had 3 closets, and a dresser to put clothes into. The one downside that surprised me - safe is basically on the floor in a cabinet underneath the tv. The balcony was big, but gosh yes it was more obstructed than I expected. The lifeboat sat not below the balcony, but more flush with it. So you could see out just fine, but despite having cruised before I forgot how BIG these lifeboats are. In my thinking I was expecting more of large rowboat than the huge roofed thing that could sleep 8 if we were talking private yachts. These boats are huge! After dropping off luggage we had a quick lunch in the lido, stopped at the Italian station & had some really delicious fish, and grilled veggies. There was a baked eggplant & cheese dish that was really good too. Our cabin steward & assistant were great, very helpful. For the most part we only had our cabin done once a day with son usually sleeping in too late. But they had their work cut out for them when they finally did get to the cabin, and always left it looking great with the best towel animals I've seen on any cruise so far. Great job Marcus and Arturo(?) sorry I trashed your name the whole cruise & still probably got it wrong now. The food was good for the most part, dishes I've ordered on other carnival cruises were prepared the best I've had in recent years on the Spirit. Did notice a problem with the radish slices curling up like they weren't fresh on the first day - but in general the food was prepared well & I thought the kitchen did an amazingly good job of putting out so much so well. That was at dinner. I only had breakfast one day in the MDR, really disappointed with the poached eggs I got. Not overcooked but they were cold, yuck! The desserts were quite good, in fact too good in the MDR after dinner. I did try some of the desserts in the lido buffet & was disappointed every time - except for the chocolate rum mousse offered on chocolate day. I was too impatient to stand in line for the chocolate buffet but was able to try the mousse at a line that was more reasonable. Really, really good. The real star of the cruise was glacier bay. We lucked out with decent, albeit cold weather. Some crazy girls were in the hot tub & standing up getting their pictures taken in their bikinis. Don't know how they tolerated it, I hope they didn't catch their death. Ports of skagway & juneau & ketchikan were fun as well, even though the rain was pretty heavy in ketchikan. The naturalist Michelle was great I thought, always watching for wildlife & coming on to announce over the PA system when she saw something of note. Also park rangers came on the ship for Glacier Bay. As far as activities - it seems Carnival is cutting back on what is offered. At least for what is of interest to me. In the past I would have 10 things highlighted a day to take part in. This cruise, there might only be 2 things a day I might want to do. Usually if I found one activity that appealed, like the naturalist giving a talk on the whales - that was also when tea was offered. I noticed that, being very little I wanted to do for activities in a day but if there was something good it was all offered at the same time so you had to choose. But maybe that's because I'm picky, no interest in bingo or the hairy whatever contest. Also, I always try to take part in the fitness activities offered. I wish I were an early riser, because 7 or 8 is when the free fitness classes like stretching, etc, is offered. I did do a pilates class and also a stretching class at 5pm, and a circuit training class. Was surprised at how poorly attended the classes were I went to. The trainer for the pilates class was good & it was a tremendous workout. My abs HURT the next day. There was 1 other lady at the class, and someone who left half way through the class & claimed she did not know it was a pay activity. :( The circuit training class - I was the only one there. Trainer told me to congratulate myself on being the only one on board of 2,000+ cruisers who wanted to work out. I did enjoy the production shows. They were very well done I thought, I was impressed with the quality of the singers & dancers. Also surprised one night the water was really rough, and they did not cancel the show. The dancers all looked great, and they had to have been not dancing full out but only maybe 70% (if that, i.e. holding back quite a bit) considering how bad the ship was pitching. Everyone landed their jumps & no one fell. I was expecting rough water for the return to Seattle, and it was rough the night we left ketchikan. I thought the water was fairly calm the next day though, and there was a fantastic show put on by a pod of Orcas who were swimming next to the ship. All in all a very good cruise for a very cheap price. Also the green thunder waterslide looked awesome, I'm envious of the Aussies who will soon get the Spirit. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
First I would like to thank CruiseCritc.com. My husband and I had never been on a cruise and I really wasn't sure what we were getting into! I read many reviews on CruiseCritic.com, and they really helped me to understand what to ... Read More
First I would like to thank CruiseCritc.com. My husband and I had never been on a cruise and I really wasn't sure what we were getting into! I read many reviews on CruiseCritic.com, and they really helped me to understand what to expect. We set sail on our grand tour of Alaska's Inside Passage on May 1, 2012. Embarkation was very easy and we were in our cabin rather quickly. Bagus, our steward, was wonderful. He was there when we wanted or needed him, but wasn't overbearing in any way. He always referred to us by name! We were so impressed with the look and feel of the ship. Something that really stood out was the cleanliness of the ship. From the hand sanitizing stations all around, to the tissues placed on the back of bathroom doors for use with the handle, Carnival really felt clean. My husband works for the health department and he took the Galley tour, nervous of what he would see. He was very impressed by everything he saw, and by the answers he received from the crew members giving the tour. Good Job, Carnival!! Ports: We traveled to Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. In Juneau, we took the Blue Bus to Mendenhall Glacier. This was a great deal--$7 each way! We enjoyed hiking the trails to Nugget Falls, the magnificent waterfall next to Mendenhall Glacier. This is a beautiful place, just 30 minutes outside of town. Afterwards, we wandered through Juneau, visiting the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and then went shopping. Skagway was our next stop, and my favorite port. This is a cute town with an "old west" feel. The board walk sidewalks and wooden buildings reminded me of Tombstone, AZ. We took the White Pass and Yukon Railway 3 hour roundtrip train trip. This was a beautiful excursion up into the snow. At points, we traveled through 15 foot tall snow drifts. The scenery is magnificent and shouldn't be missed. Ketchikan was our final port. On this day, the weather was terrible---strong winds and rain. Many people never even left the ship and most of the tours were cancelled. We did explore the port and enjoyed the Totem Heritage Site and the Bald Eagle center next to it. We had fun walking the trails up to the Totem Heritage site behind Creek Street. I was really surprised by the number of tourist "junk shops" lining the ports--mostly in Juneau and Ketchikan. You really have to search off the main drag to find actual items "Made in Alaska." Most of the shops carry the same cheap items that were made in China. I will admit, these stores are great for when you have to bring a lot of souvenirs back to co-workers! Glacier Bay--- After Skagway, we sailed Glacier Bay. This was truly a gift and an experience I can't compare to anything else I've done in my life. We picked up the National Park naturalist and first sailed to Marjorie Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier. The night before, a National Park map was left on our bed (with our cute folded Carnival towel animal)--so we could easily follow along with the naturalist's descriptions of our location. We were very lucky and saw Marjorie Glacier calving! The sound you hear before the ice falls into the sea is indescribable! I've heard it referred to as "White Thunder," and thunder is the closest word to describe it! After visiting Marjorie, we sailed passed Reid and Lumpaugh Glaciers, before heading up to Johns Hopkins Glacier. We couldn't approach Johns Hopkins, due to seal birthing. Johns Hopkins Glacier was fabulous, especially as the skies turned blue at this time of the day. I truly can't say enough wonderful things about Glacier Bay---it felt like we were in a different world. I was so impressed by the Park Service employees, from their commentary, to the slideshow presentation, to the table of information (including animal skins to touch) set up by the pool area. Food-- We had all of our breakfasts and lunches in the La Playa Grill. They were fine. Some were better than others. The "De Chevre" pizza was wonderful! The chocolate buffet--FABULOUS!! The main dining room, however, was a treat to behold! We had "any time" dining, but ended up requesting Nanka from Bulgaria every night we could. She was so friendly and attentive. She really made our evenings very enjoyable. The food itself in the main dining room was Incredible!! The Chateaubriand was very memorable and wonderful. I did try the frog legs----I don't need to try them again. But, I can say that I tried them! I enjoyed my nightly cappuccino that came with dinner. What didn't we like-- The only things that we really didn't like were how much they try to sell you things on the ship. They are constantly taking your photos---which was fine, except that it got a little old every night at dinner. I did attend the art auction---the free champagne was nice. I didn't like the hard-sell pitch before the auction and at some of the other events. I didn't mind the cost of wine---it was comparable to the cost of wine at any restaurant. We really enjoyed the lemonade, so did not purchase the soft drink card. Lemonade, Iced Tea,water, Coffee, and Hot Chocolate were the "included" beverages. The iced tea was syrupy, but the lemonade and hot chocolate were wonderful. Weather--- we had wonderful weather for 90% of the cruise. On the day we sailed between Ketchikan to Seattle, we went around Vancouver Island out into the Pacific. This was a very rough day with 30 foot swells and strong winds. All the decks were closed, but the swimming pool looked like a wave pool, splashing all its water outside of its enclosure! Many people were ill---barf bags suddenly appeared in all the hallways. I was very grateful to my SeaBands and Dramamine. I don't know if this was normal, but it did make me question whether I would cruise again. After about 12 hours, the waves calmed and the sea was again like glass. It was then that we had a pod of orca breaching right outside our balcony window! What a treat!!! I can't recommend this trip enough. I also can't recommend Carnival enough. Granted, this was my first and only cruise, but my husband and I both have lived overseas and traveled extensively. We both really enjoyed this experience. We were very impressed by the cleanliness of the ship and the friendliness of the crew. Thanks Carnival, for giving us memories we will cherish forever! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We recently returned from the first sailing of the season on the Carnival Spirit to Alaska. This was the third day of the season for the ports we visited. This was our second cruise overall but first with Carnival. We had a great time, ... Read More
We recently returned from the first sailing of the season on the Carnival Spirit to Alaska. This was the third day of the season for the ports we visited. This was our second cruise overall but first with Carnival. We had a great time, though some items could be better. Embarkation: We boarded in Vancouver, BC. The cruise port was clean and easily accessible. We actually ported our bags and took a short walk over to the 2010 Olympic cauldron, which is only about 2 blocks west of the Canada Place cruise terminal. The cauldron has ongoing construction around it. They are building a shallow pool under the cauldron and on the bottom will highlight the path the torch took to get to Vancouver. Once back at the cruise terminal we were through security and paperwork in 15 minutes and on board. As it was almost 2pm room were ready and one of our bags was already outside our door. Rooms: Our room was very clean and spacious. I was concerned that the balcony would feel small but I was completely content with it's size. Our room steward was amazing. First time I saw him he was half way down the hallway but he called me and my fiance by name. I honestly don't know how they remember everyone's name especially from so far away. Our room was always clean. He did a great job of learning our schedule and would pop in while we were out and about. Only odd thing about the room was the TV. It always turned on to some random channel that only displayed static. Though when scrolling through the channels it never returned to that channel. Dining: We ate in the main dining room all but one night. Our wait staff was very friendly but not very attentive. We often sat with empty drinks or only water and would usually have to ask for refills. By the last night he learned we drink the small glasses of lemonade way to quickly and started using larger glasses for us. He must have gotten tired of us asking for refills all the time. Our assistant waiter was a ghost as we hardly ever saw her. She would bring bread and then occasionally fixings for the dishes, though I was half way done with my meal one day before she brought the fixing for the baked potato. The food in the main dining room was good. Portions were small and some items arrived lukewarm at best. I expected the small servings so when there was something I really enjoyed, IE prime rib, I didn't hesitate to order a second. We used room service one night because our excursion occupied us and we didn't make it back to the ship in time to get cleaned up for dinner. The room service staff were fast and courteous though the food options were limited. They forgot one of the entrees I ordered so I ended up making a trip up to the buffet to fill myself up. I was hoping that during dinner times they could bring items from the main dining room but was informed they would not. We ate breakfast one morning in the main dining room. The food was good and the service was fine but we quickly realized you can get the same food, faster and in larger quantities in the buffet so we ate breakfast up there every other morning. The buffet food was confusing at best. Instead of an organized long line they have the buffet split into about 7 different sections. Each section offers some different form of food and you have to roam around for 10 minutes looking at each station so you can decide what you want to eat. The seating area and the lines crowd together making walking around a real pain. The food was adequate, basically what I expected from a buffet. Some of the items were cold but most were pretty good. The omelet station in the morning was one of my regular stops as well as the carved meat during lunch. The dessert station had different items every day and the pizza was pretty good. Public rooms: All the public area's of the ship were clean and beautiful. We spent a decent amount of time at the casino. The dealers were all very friendly as they took my money. The Texas hold-em table is a poker pro machine. It was difficult to get people to the table but once you got a few people would fill in pretty quickly. The main show room is very large with comfortable seating and good views from everyplace. I really enjoyed the extra room between rows on the main level of the theatre. The shows were OK. I was hoping for a show that had some sort of story to follow. Instead they were all just random song and dance. Well done shows, yes, but not all that interesting. The show on the final night where the guest sing and perform was rather entertaining. Staff: All the staff I had encounters with were very pleasant and helpful. I only went to the pursuer's desk once, she seemed busy and was kind of abrasive but wasn't rude. The cruise director was rather boring though. He seemed like a nice guy but he was very dry to listen to. He did not appear prepared at all. His PowerPoint's were all messed up and he blamed the computer though it appeared more likely that he did not review them before the show as he did not even seem to know what was coming next. His morning show was brutally painful. Tried to watch it one morning but after 5 minutes he was putting me back to sleep. Maybe it should be replayed at night to help the insomniacs. Overall we had a great time on this cruise. Alaska was beautiful and I did not want to get off the ship. Dining room staff could be more attentive and faster and the buffet could be laid out in a much more organized fashion but overall I have no regrets. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The Carnival Spirit cruise, leaving Vancouver, BC on May 5th could not have been less spirited, if it had tried. First let me say that we have cruised extensively all over the world and that this was also our fourth cruise to Alaska, so ... Read More
The Carnival Spirit cruise, leaving Vancouver, BC on May 5th could not have been less spirited, if it had tried. First let me say that we have cruised extensively all over the world and that this was also our fourth cruise to Alaska, so it's not as though we didn't know what to expect. And it's a good thing we didn't expect much, because we didn't get much either. To begin, the boarding process in Vancouver went fairly well, although the US Customs clearance was a bit of a hang-up and could have been handled better. In any case, it went as well as can be expected in this day and age of security and inspections. We were directed to our cabin by crew members. First time, I believe, that someone did not escort us. In any case, we were on the back of the ship in an aft-view extended balcony, so headed in that direction and found it with no problem. Cabin was rather plain pipe rack in decor but balcony and view from the stern made up for it. The sitting area had a sofa that became a third bed when booked as a triple or family cabin. It was OK but not terribly comfortable for reading; usually sat on bed to read as it was more comfortable. Cabin crew were friendly, efficient, and cooperative; kept cabin clean and well supplied with towels. Often had coffee in cabin in the morning and it was always on time and hot. Introduction to ship emergency procedures was handled professionally and I think everyone was happy that the bulky life preservers were not required at the briefing. Sound system with instructions could have been better but we all got the idea. Sailing out of Vancouver was lovely and we were ready to have a drink and then proceed to dinner. Carnival now has a dress-down policy in that pretty much anything goes as far as dress is concerned, except for cut-offs and bathing suits in the dining room. The passengers were somewhat younger and uniform for the cruise seemed to be jeans and T-shirts most of the time. Dressier evenings were far more casual than in past cruises, although Alaska cruises do tend to be more casual than other destinations. I suspect the new charges for luggage by the airlines might have some impact on this also, as no one wants to pay extra for luggage when traveling to a cruise ship, just so they can dress up for one or two nights. Decor of the ship was rather schizophrenic in that there was no unifying theme. One area had rather formal, European style decor; another had Egyptian or Middle Eastern feeling; buffet area was a modern melange guaranteed to help you lose your appetite. Someone even remarked that the lamps hanging into the walkways were hazardous to people walking by, since they were at head height and easy to bump into. Dining room was very subdued and seldom full. Most people didn't bother with a set dining time apparently. Many people were seated by themselves at tables for 6-8 people and looked rather lonely. Dining staff often had few passengers to wait on and stood around with not much to do. Still, hot food often arrived just barely warm and cold food arrived lukewarm. Some entrees seemed to have been sitting around awhile before being served. Food choice was good and servings were adequate. Not gourmet dining, by any means, but not bad either. Often times it looked as though the kitchen had really tried to be creative and it was appreciated. Servers were pleasant and seemed well-trained; not overly rushed or careless. Wine selections were good although rather pricey, but that's common these days. We didn't choose this cruise for either the itinerary or because we wanted to be on a Carnival Cruise; we joined friends who were already on the ship from Hawaii, but they also felt that Carnival was not on a par with other lines they had sailed on. Would I take another Carnival cruise? Probably not. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Vancouver: My adult daughter lives in Olympia, WA so my husband & I flew from Colorado to meet her and then we drove to Vancouver, B.C. The drive was nice until we got to Vancouver - a lot of traffic, but they are gearing up for the ... Read More
Vancouver: My adult daughter lives in Olympia, WA so my husband & I flew from Colorado to meet her and then we drove to Vancouver, B.C. The drive was nice until we got to Vancouver - a lot of traffic, but they are gearing up for the Olympics. We parked right at the pier which ended up costing $200! We later learned we could have taken the train from Seattle but, you cannot always count on the train. Check in very fast and efficient and all bags made it to room by sailing time. We chose a cabin with a window near mid-ship on the Rivera deck. We always chose low and midshid as it rides the best, i.e. not much movement. And, a window cabin has a couch/twin bed (a bit hard) for 3rd person rather than a bunk. Fun to watch all of the float planes, barges and other ship coming and going while leaving the port. Food/Entertainment: We opted for the "Your Time" dining - which was great! We found head waiter, Romeldo - not to be confused with Romualdo - to be the best - lots of personality and service was always faster than any of the other areas where we were seated in. Sometimes we chose to sit with other groups, sometimes alone - never going back to assigned seating if I can help it! My daughter & I enjoyed trying out new fancy foods and deserts every day so we ate in the dining room most of the time while my husband stuck to the buffet. Casual dress, including jeans and tennis shoes was OK, but it was nice to dress up a little or a lot on the 2 formal nights. We also took tea at 3:30 on the days at sea. The shows in Pharoah's lounge were always fun and professional and my daughter went to Karaoke a couple of nights and enjoyed that, too. My husband could be found in the casino most of the time, but the machines were really tight! Room Stewards: Although there were 3 of us coming and going at all times, they managed to sneak in and make up the room or turn down the beds along with leaving cute towel animals every day. Nice people - we always take time to say hi and see what countries all of these folks are from as we pass in the hallways - they are the backbone of the ship! Tips: Since there were 3 of us in the cabin, I usually got up early, worked out in the gym, then showered in the larger facilies of the locker room. I loved the thick terry cloth robes that are provided in the cabins and found many other guests running around in them, too - even for breakfast at the buffet! Also, remember there are laudramats on most of the decks - so to save on luggage, pack for only 4-5 days and do your laundry on one of the days at sea. Cost is $3 for washer and $3 for dryer, bring your own detergent & softener or pay $1 for that, too. Get your quarters from the casino or service desk. There is a minifridge in the room, along with a table, so you can always load up at the buffet and take your dinner back to the room, or stash a dessert in the fridge for late night snack without leaving the room. Return: We all enjoyed a nice breakfast in the dining room (you get a larger choice of fruit juices, made to order eggs, etc. than at the buffet) then our turn came to leave at about 8:30 and were on our way out of Vancouver by 9. We were driving back to SEA-TAC for a 5pm flight - we thought we'd have a lot of time to spare, but U.S. customs took a full hour, so we only had time to stop in Ana Cortes for a late lunch - it's a very pretty town on Hidalgo Island - right outside of Mt. Vernon. Summary: 7 day cruise with only 3 ports was about 1 day too long, especially since it was too cold, windy and/or rainy to do anything top deck. But, Alaska is really beautiful - especially for those who haven't been to the Rocky Mountains and/or lived by seaports. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We arrived in Vancouver a day early. The weather was fantastic without a cloud in the sky. After about a 45 minute drive from the Airport we arrived at the Vancouver Downtown Delta Suites. The hotel was beautiful and the rooms very ... Read More
We arrived in Vancouver a day early. The weather was fantastic without a cloud in the sky. After about a 45 minute drive from the Airport we arrived at the Vancouver Downtown Delta Suites. The hotel was beautiful and the rooms very spacious. We choose this hotel because we often stay in Delta hotels and were able to use our privilege points for the stay. The Delta Hotel was within walking distance of not only the embarkation port but also many of the attractions around downtown Vancouver. We spent most of the day touring Vancouver's Stanley Park which is an adventure unto itself. A beautiful place that offers beautiful views of the harbour, beaches and majestic walks through huge Redwoods and forest. A perfect way to begin an Alaskan adventure. Embarkation: What can one say about this. Canada Place was beautiful. We woke up early and went for a morning walk down around the port to get a feel for where we had to go. We walked back to the hotel and packed our bags then took a taxi (about 7 dollars) back to Canada Place because the taxi would take us right under ground. When we arrived the porters were there waiting and immediately took our bags and got them ready to be placed on the ship. We went through the Embarkation process and at around 11:30 am. I was amazed at how organized and efficient this process was. We lined up for no more then ten minutes total including our wait time through customs. Once through Customs we headed to get our sail and sign cards and again waited maybe five minutes. We then were asked to sit and wait for our turn to embark. Why they asked us to sit I have no idea because we basically sat down and we were being called. All in all we were on the ship and with drink in hand within 45 minutes from the time we arrived. It was fantastic. The Ship: On this stay we had an ocean view room. We would have preferred a balcony but we had decided to book this trip at the last minute and thus all that was left. For us that was fine. We don't really spend that much time anyway in the room. We stayed on the Riviera deck and had easy access to all areas of the ship. I should also note that we were in our rooms and had our luggage with an hour and half of boarding the ship. The room was fine very well looked after and spacious. The ship itself was beautiful. The interior design was unique and very different from what we have experienced on past cruises and ship. In particular the shopping lane was incredibly nice as the walkway curves left then right along the path. Overall the ship is set up in a way that you never feel crowded and there always seems to be space to mingle and sit in every area. There were a number of bars on board some of which we never even got to. The food in my opinion was fabulous. One always has to keep in mind that these chefs are preparing meals for 2500 -3000 people all day long. A tough go indeed. The buffet was great with lots of options and we never really had to line up. The main dining room was fabulous and the service even better. I am always of the belief that you need to make this what you want it to be. remember things often go a bit complicated at times but how we react is how we will benefit or not. After all, this is a vacation.... We had no complaints about the dining room. We needed some adjustments done to our seating and by the second night all was well. Our servers were not only attentive but they were also entertaining. We only ate dinner in the main dining room and had both breakfast and lunch on the lido deck at the Emile's grill. We also had the late seating which we preferred. The entertainment was ok but not really spectacular. However, for us we do not always enjoy the the shows like others do. We did participate in some other activities and had an enjoyable time doing this and found the staff to be well organized and up beat. I also have to say that we enjoyed the Karaoke Lounge a few times and also the Legends show which I was the lucky draw to be James Brown. The legends show is always one of my favourite parts of a Carnival cruise and I have to admit being a part of it was a blast. I did not find the Cruise director to be all that friendly and seemed to be into himself a bit. But what the heck we are not there to visit the cruise director! I need to give a special shout out to Delroy the Bar guy and his two partners who's names I cant recall right now. These three guys were fantastic and energetic. Once they got to know us they really took good care of us to the point where we would not even need to order a drink they would just bring it over. They were great and deserve some major kudos. We are on the Spirit again in April for Hawaii and I am hoping these guys will still be there. Overall, we were very pleased with the ship and trip in general. I did not find Alaska to be the spectacular place i had always heard it was but it is very beautiful. coming from Canada we see a lot of snow for a good portion of the year so perhaps that was a bit of a block for me. However, we have no regrets and had a great time. The Inside Passage was beautiful however we did see quite a bit of rain Lastly, The College Fjords were absolutely stunning. As we sailed through this area we were treated to many sightings of wildlife including Orca Whales, Otters, Sea lions and more not to mention close to 20 very visible large and small glaciers. I guess as I write this I am realizing that Alaska truly was a beautiful spot to visit despite what I have said above. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My wife and Myself just returned from our 6th cruise and do enjoy the convenience of many different cities on a single vacation. This is our 2nd time aboard the Carnival Spirit and First visit to Alaska. Let me say that Alaska is a ... Read More
My wife and Myself just returned from our 6th cruise and do enjoy the convenience of many different cities on a single vacation. This is our 2nd time aboard the Carnival Spirit and First visit to Alaska. Let me say that Alaska is a beautiful place and the views are amazing, the cities we visited are very cute and each has is own history that dates back for hundreds of years. Carnival did a good job of providing History Channel programing the was Alaska specific. We did not eat a the buffet,Only in the main dinning room and the Steak House. The buffet just did not seem attractive to us and the lines were pretty long. We had late seating for dinner, No need to arrive on time as every night the doors were opened at least 15 minutes late and from there the line went all the way back, past 2 bars and almost to the casino, No problem as we just adjusted our arrival time to 20 minutes later. The ports were fantastic, great seafood mostly halibut, Crab and Salmon but all very good, a little expensive but worth it overall. They do try to serve some seafood dishes at dinner billed as fresh Alaskan, but just not the same. Don't get too excited about the food on Board. Alaska beer is fresh and good, We like the Alaskan Brewery beers the best, I the White, My wife the amber. Much better than the same beer on the ship as I think it must sit for a while in a war warehouse before Carnival brings it on board,(the Dos XX was the same, a little stale). No problem though as we just confined our beer drinking to the time in port. Pre-cruise and Embarkation- They asked us 3 times what time our Flight home from Anchorage was, Once on the "fun pass registration", once again when I purchased transfers directly from Carnival. and once again on the ship on a form that they leave in your Cabin. I had a flight time Change due to the Airlines from 2:00PM to 11:20 AM, I called my trusty Sales Rep and he did not return my call. I called Customer Service, the first time The lady was of no help and could give me no information about transfers in anchorage, she said that it was handled through a vendor and did not know what time they start embarkation. So I called again, The Rep. this time was very nice and looked up my cruise and told me that they could accommodate airport transfers as early as 11:00 AM, no problem so I booked the Carnival Transfer from Whittier to Anchorage. Sure enough when it came time to Dis-embark that Had us assigned in one of the last groups to get off the ship. They started at 7:00 AM at 8:40, they still had not called my group So I took it upon myself to get off the ship not waiting for them to call our "ZONE#", At the bottom of the ramp the Carnival agent began to question me and I said "look if I don't get on the next shuttle I will miss my flight", She was kind enough to let us board. When the buss arrived at the Airport, We walked strait from the bus and boarded the plane, Not 1 minute to spare. Carnival has gone down hill from the last few times we cruised with them. Service,Food guest relations, just the overall experiance Next year, we are already planning another cruise, This Time we are going to try another cruise line, probably spend a little more but we will see, maybe free style cruising is more our cup of tea. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I had booked this cruise 502 days out. At several times it looked like we might have to cancel. But it all worked out in the end. We had a great time. We flew in one day early and stayed at the Best Western Hotel Granville. We ... Read More
I had booked this cruise 502 days out. At several times it looked like we might have to cancel. But it all worked out in the end. We had a great time. We flew in one day early and stayed at the Best Western Hotel Granville. We really enjoyed Vancouver, the hotel and the area. We took the "Big Bus tour" to get an overview of the city. Also we were able to take the new Canada train line from YVR into the city center. Great train. Embarkation was a breeze. We did have V.I.P. because we had booked a Cat 11 aft wrap suite. Due to the economic downturn I did get a good refund before final payment was due. We got at Canada Place by 11:30 and were onboard approximately 12:00. We relaxed with a few drinks and great deli sandwiches from the lido before our suite was ready @ 1:30. We had the same exact room on the Carnival Pride the year before on the Mexican Rivera the year before and this one was in perfect condition. I had to remind myself I was on a different ship. All of our gifts and liquor ordered from the bon Voyage dept. was there. We also had pre orderd Champagne and Canapes for sail away. After a relaxing on our HUGE balcony for a couple hours it was time for boat drill. Our friendly cabin steward Jhoe dropped by to introduce himself and deliver ice. After one of the fastest Boat drills ever it was time for our private sail away party. Our neighbors from the next cabin over peeked arround the corner and said hello. I shared a few of our canapes with them. Carnival does a great job on these. The senerey sailing from Vancouver was just the first of amazing vistas to come. We did the "your choice" dinning. We were seated immediately and had great service. Our trio of eastern European waiters were Great. Elvis, Mladen and, Micheal did a fantastic job. They would take care of us for 3 nights of the cruise. We did Supper Club twice and I ate in town in Junea. We sat in anohter station one night of the cruise but went back to our favorite team. Your choice dining worked great for us. No wait for a table for two. We ate arround 7:00 or a little earlier. Our first sea day I had a good work out in the Roman Spa and came back to a promptly served pre orderd (via card) Room Service Breakfast. We used the free room service a lot, for breakfast and lunch. Excellent lox and bagels. Most of our first sea day was spent looking at the amazing views and relaxing on the balcony. We preordered booze and mixers so we can make our own drinks in cabin. Also did a few room good room service lunches. I really enjoyed all of the shows in the main show lounge. The music singing and dancers are great. I always sit on the lower level and enjoy a nice after dinner drink. "THE BIG EASY" show was so good I went @ 8:45 and came back @ 10:30. Ketchikan we did some shopping and loved the Alaska Queen Steamboat. Friendly crew and tour guides were great. We had lunch at Steamers on the pier (Good Alaska brew and a salmon burger) and hit the local history museum. That night was our first night in the Supper Club. We had great service. Danijelia was especially nice. We had such a good time we booked a second night for Sunday eve. The lamb and fillet mignon were excellent as was the table side prepared ceasar salad. Amazing Deserts!! Juneau we did the City and Mendenthall Glacier tour which was very good. We had a tasty lunch at "El Somberro" family owned Mexican rest. And then I did the mount Roberts Tramway which, even in the rain and fog was a lot of fun. Later I had an excellent Halibut dinner @ the "Gold Room" at the art deco style Westmark Baranof Hotel in town. Skagway looks like a movie set from the old west. After some fun shopping there we went back to the ship for a room service lunch. later we really enjoyed the White Pass and Yukon Railway. Sitka we did the excellent Sitka History and Nature Walk. Our guide "Wolf" a transplant of some 20 plus years had great passion about the town and the local people, plants, animals and history. Lunch was a freshly choclate and nut dipped icecream bar. After four days of off and on rain Mother Nature cut us a break and let us have some sunshine at the end of our day in Sitka and then on our last sea day spent cruising Prince William sound and College fjord. The Harvard glacier was nicely lit up as the sun set. The Scenery was eye popping!! I got to see and hear glaciers calving.  We did luggage express. It was nice to put our bags out our door on the last night of the cruise and not have to worry about them until we got back to LAX. One bag arrived late, but was driven out to our house the early the next day. We did the Carnival tranfer to the airport, which worked well. Overall we really liked the ship and had exellent & friendly service. All food we had onboard was good to excellent. And I work in fine dinning. We look forward to our next Carnival Cruise on Carnival Dream in Jan 2010. All preordered tours, credits, gifts and liqour arrived like clockwork. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
WE headed to Vancouver on July 5th to visit the city prior to boarding Carnival Spirit .Loved our flight non stop  on Air Canada ...NO LUGGAGE FEES 2 bags each !!!! definitely a plus Vancouver is a lovely city .We stayed at the Plaza 500 ... Read More
WE headed to Vancouver on July 5th to visit the city prior to boarding Carnival Spirit .Loved our flight non stop  on Air Canada ...NO LUGGAGE FEES 2 bags each !!!! definitely a plus Vancouver is a lovely city .We stayed at the Plaza 500 -got it on a cheap website .Close to public transportation .First day was sunny We walked to Queen Elizabeth Park it was 20 blocks away .Misled by hotel personnel -it was VERY far and uphill ...next time we will take a bus!!!!Hotel OK not great but shopping plaza in front very convenient.GREAT fruit store in Mall Visited Stanley Park,Chinatown,Granville Island,Gastown -all very nice!!!Vancouver is a MUST to visit ,.Happy we did After Montreal definitely favorite Canadian city .We will return!!!Boarded Carnival Spirit on July 8 for BTB cruise Boarding was a breeze .Canada Place very well set up .Too bad no more Spirit out of Vancouver next year !!!Before going to Alaska I did not understand the attraction for return visits.....now I do Our PVP chose our cabins-  THANKS GREAT CHOICE!!!    !balconies a MUST in Alaska  and chose very well 6309 going 6244 returning .We chose BTB because you cannot see nor do it all in 1 visit and air for this Canuck out of Anchorage was almost as expensive as the cruise itself so we stayed put .VERY SMART MOVE I highly recommend BTB .People on board helped us move ...thank you Renato and Mark -for making it basically painless Northbound we had AMAZING sunny warm weather First I will talk about the ship ..BEAuTIFUL ,CLean ,great staff who took very good care of our needs Because of food allergies Milana the restaurant hostess preordered all my dinners ...now that;s what we call SERVICE .She was wonderful to chit chat with every night .The staff in dining room from Maitre D Prasad to waiter and ass't waiter were the ABSOLUTE BEST .Thank you again Food was good and well presented  Loved our table by the window WOW great views while dining ..What else could you ask for ?Kudos to Dennis on Spirit  and Joan in Florida ...Thanks again GREAT JOB!!!!!!Shows were fun .Dance numbers very energetic We really enjoyed late night comedians Would appreciate SMOKE+FREE NIGHTS IN CASINO .I was told people slept early in Alaska ...not on Spirit Very lively ship Ambiance and decor very nice .Shops are all on same floor very easy to find everything Our cruise along the BC coast  was beautiful Michelle the Naturalist had a very soothing voice and when we heard the signal of her announcements we ran to open the balcony to hear and see what she pointed out . I really liked her and did not find her 'sleepy'at all .LOved her description of College Fjord Captain moved the ship all around for all to see ...VERY NICE       As we approached Ketchican the landscape changed and we literally got swallowed by fog .WOW The ship blew its horn repeatedly and out of no where ...so it seemed ....a pilot came on board .His boat also got swallowed by the fog .It was a UNIQUE experience.......eerie and special at the same time In Ketchican we shopped and walked around to Creek street Married man's Trail and all around .I liked Ketchican Charming town Juneau was GREAT .We went on a city tour Mandenhal Glacier and in Pm whale watching with Capt Larry of Orca .FABULOUS trip I love whales I think they are majestic creatures Got loads of pictures .Capt Larry knew exactly where to go We went twice with him and he was great both times  Missed Tracy arm so must return to do it !!!Sitka is a lovely walking town .Loads of Russian souvenirs and Totem poles in Park .Do not miss Aquarium and fish hatchery .Do the trail in the park .On our second visit did eco adventures with Capt Mitch .Saw cute seals otters in nursery and whales.The scenery around Sitka is GORGEOUS!!!Took loads of pictures of small islands and amazing rock formations seals loved Skagway is a time warp in the gold rush with wooden sidewalks everywhere .Loved the Yukon train We went with Dyea Dave by van to YUKON .WOW !!! He promised a bear sighting and sun and delivered both GOOD JOB DAVE I was up front with him and really enjoyed our chit chat .the YUKON is a must Emerald Lake Stunning Whittier was amazing under the Midnight sun .I took pictures without flash WOW .We did Glaciers on Blackstone Bay with Major Marine  ,WOW WOW WOW !!!!! We saw it calve ,fabulous waterfalls and had a margarita made with glacier ice ..where else but in Alaska ...this is a MUST DO in Whittier .Glad we chose BTB to do this ....All of Alaska and Yukon had a particular odor -pine flowers sea and cool .Nature is GRANDIOSE everywhere in the GREAT WHITE NORTH .I named the first mountain in Yukon MOUNT MICHELE ...so say hello to "my 'mountain when you go by !!!! Dave said too many mountains so no names so I  gave it mine ...how cool is that ????I went to Alaska to find inspiration for my paintings ....I think I found it    and then some     I will always treasure this trip .I hope to start my Alaska /YUKON series on canvas  very soon .I loved the landscapes and hope to do them justice on canvas In summary I loved our cruise made very special by the great staff of Carnival Spirit  .They surpassed all our expectations We had the smoothest ride so BRAVO captain I HIGHLY recommend this cruise .BTB is truly the best BC coast/Alaska and Yukon are truly' Nature;s wonderbox ...go see for yourself go with Carnival you will not regret it Michele Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
My father had wanted to go to Alaska for some time, and when the prices fell, we decided now was the time to go! We travelled with a group of 8: my parents, my husband and I with our 10 yr old daughter, and our friends with their 12 yr old ... Read More
My father had wanted to go to Alaska for some time, and when the prices fell, we decided now was the time to go! We travelled with a group of 8: my parents, my husband and I with our 10 yr old daughter, and our friends with their 12 yr old son.  My boss and his parents also came along when I shared my plans with them.We loved the port of Vancouver and wished we had more time there to spend.  We stayed at the Days Inn which was older and small, but very reasonable with a friendly staff.  Their shuttle to the port really helped with all of our luggage, and the location is perfect.The embarkation process was seamless.  We got to the port around 12:45, and were on the ship by 1:15.  We waited for them to open the doors to the stateroom areas, changed into swimsuits, and were in the hot tub shortly afterwards.The service on the Spirit was excellent! Our waiters, Noel and Nathaniel, gave the kids special attention.  I really like the fixed dining time because you get such personal treatment.  Nathaniel had a magic trick for the kids nearly every night.  The food was good, not excellent, but completely acceptable.The cabin steward was also excellent.  I would have liked a bit more storage space, but we managed just fine.  Our category 7A cabin was great.  The lifeboat at the bottom of the balcony was never a true obstruction.  Our view was still fabulous.The ship's naturalist, Michelle, did an exceptional job keeping us informed of points of interest and nearby wildlife.The shows I thought were not as good as I had hoped.  Apparently the ones I missed were much better than the ones I actually saw.  The nightlife on the ship is much slower than other cruises due to an older crowd, I think.The children's programs were excellent! The staff allowed my daughter to go up to the 12-14's to be with her friend, and I couldn't have asked for better staff and programs.  They really enjoyed themselves and made friends quickly.The cruise came to an end all too quickly.  Debarkation was smooth, and we were very pleased with the Alaskan Leopard Company who provided our transport to the airport.  We stopped at Portage Glacier and got a complimentary beverage and Cinnamon Roll.  Then stopped at the Wildlife Reserve in Anchorage.  The guide was very funny, friendly, and took great care of us.  It was a very good choice.This was our first cruise since our honeymoon 15 yrs ago and my parents' first.  We all wish we were back on the Spirit now enjoying more of beautiful Alaska! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
As I mentioned in the subject, this was both our first cruise and our first trip to Alaska.  We did a lot of research on this site before we left, and I wanted to let other folks know about our experiences.I'll frame my review around ... Read More
As I mentioned in the subject, this was both our first cruise and our first trip to Alaska.  We did a lot of research on this site before we left, and I wanted to let other folks know about our experiences.I'll frame my review around the 1-5 ratings.One side note that doesn't really fit anywhere else, speaking of ratings...  They asked everyone to fill out comment cards after the cruise.  It's not exactly a very good system.  The only choices were Exceeded Expectations, Met Expectations, and Opportunity for Improvement.  According to our cruise director, we needed to make everything exceeded expectations unless we had an issue.  In our opinion, that doesn't really go.  I mean, there were several things that were exactly what I expected, however, I would be hurting an employee's review if I only said Met Expectations.  Also, we did the Fly Aweigh program through Carnival.  It was a little bit pricy, however, it really worked out pretty well for us.  Our flights and transfers all went smoothly.  It was especially nice for our first cruise.Pre-cruise Add-on:We booked a pre-cruise add-on in Vancouver.  This was 2 nights along with a full day tour of Vancouver and a half-day city tour before embarkation.  They booked us at the Pan Pacific hotel in Vancouver.  It's right on the bay and literally right next to the cruise ship terminal.  The hotel was very nice and had great views of the bay.  The all day tour included a brief trip through town, then a ferry ride over to Vancouver Island.  Once there, we toured Butchart Gardens and also the city of Victoria.  We spent around 2 hours at Butchart Gardens and it was really enjoyable.  It was definitely worth seeing.  After that, we drove down to Victoria and spent close to 3 hours.  In general, I don't really enjoy the type of 'city tour' where they drop you off to explore.  That's pretty much what that was.  We're not huge shoppers, so we just had dinner and walked around a bit.The next day before embarking, they took us on a city tour around town and we visited a couple of parks.  Overall, it was pretty enjoyable. Embarkation:I had read a few reviews where people had long waits and so forth in the embarkation process, however, we had no issues on this particular cruise.  In fact, we arrived at the terminal, got through customs very quickly, and through the Carnival section extremely quickly.  In fact, it was so fast that we initially suspected we had missed something.  There's not a rating for debarkation, so I'll go ahead and add that into this score.  The debarkation wasn't terribly great.  I'm sure it's a task getting everyone off the ship, but it seemed un-necessarily confusing with tons of different zone numbers and where your luggage would end up, etc.  We overheard several people with luggage mis-delivered here or there.  I actually commented to my wife that I felt like they stopped trying to please as soon as we'd turned in our comment cards.We used the 'Luggage Express' option.  It was an extra $20 per person which, at first, I complained about since it looked like they were taking care of things anyway.  However, after seeing a lot of folks having issues finding their luggage, etc, it seemed much cheaper.  Our luggage showed up at home with us without us having to do much of anything.Public Rooms:We had a balcony room and are, in general, somewhat private people.  Therefore, we didn't spend an extremely large amount of time in public rooms.  I felt like the lounges were comfortable and relatively nice.  I did, however, feel like the whole boat had kind of a funny smell to it.  Cabin:The cabin we had was pretty nice.  It was actually bigger than I expected.  We had plenty of closet space and there was more than enough room for the two of us.  The bathroom was extremely small, but that was what I expected.  The balcony was great, and I wouldn't cruise again without one.  My only real issues were that it was a little dirty out there and our neighbors smoked which blew into our space.  We were on the back of the ship and had an excellent view.Fitness & Recreation:The fitness room was nice and had plenty of machines.  They have a hot tub in there which makes the whole place really warm and humid, but hey, it is a gym.Enrichment:I'm assuming this would be the appropriate section to speak about the on-board naturalist.  Her name was Michele.  In addition to her talking over the PA system, we also attended a couple of her wildlife sessions.  She was excellent and one of our favorite parts of the cruise.Rates:I really felt the whole trip like we pretty much paid for the absolute minimum and everything else had an additional (usually high) charge.  Dining:Dining was really a tale of two locations.  I'll start with the Main Dining Room.  We rarely had anything in the main dining room that we didn't like.  The service was generally good as well.  We had dinner there all but two nights and also ate breakfast and lunch there a couple of times each.  I can understand they have a lot of folks to serve in there, however, I didn't care for their limited times for breakfast and lunch.  We showed up for breakfast at 9:15 and were too late the one day for breakfast, for example.  We did the 'Your Time' dining option which worked out really well for us.  We were able to get a table for two every time we went and only had to wait with a pager once.  We were in there one time where they had all of the waiters dance.  I'm not sure if that's something they do every night or not.  For a nice dining room with good food, we felt like that was a little 'low rent'.Now, I'll talk about the cafeteria on the Lido deck.  As a contrast to the dining room, I rarely had anything in the cafeteria that I DID like.  The food's taste and temperature were almost always terrible.  For example, I really didn't think it was possible to make a bad pancake or French toast, but they managed to do it.  Our first all day at sea, we ate at the cafeteria for each of our three meals.  Afterwards, I was really sick for the entire night and still felt bad the next morning.  It was actually so bad, that after a couple of days, I actually skipped meals if we didn't make it to the main dining room.  The really strange part for me was that the exact same foods would be good in the dining room and terrible in the cafeteria.  For example, desserts were good in the dining room and every dessert I had in the cafeteria was very good looking but virtually flavorless.Entertainment:The entertainers we heard in the lounges were always good.  We did go to one show in the main theater, and we both thought it was pretty bad.  Honestly, the entertainers weren't bad, but the choreography was really bad.Service:I really can't say enough about the service we had.  It was absolutely fantastic!  Our room steward, Ahmad, was very friendly and prompt.  By the second day, he already called us by name in the hall and always seemed genuinely friendly.  Our wait staff was also very friendly and good.  Our main waiter for the first couple of nights was Mladen.  He was very good.  We honestly never had a bad encounter with any of the staff on the ship.Shore Excursions:As it was our first cruise, we had booked all of our excursions through Carnival.  We checked the prices on shore afterwards and they weren't horribly marked up in my opinion.  I'll detail these more below.Value for Money:All in all, I felt like the cruise was a pretty decent value.  I would have preferred, I think, to have either paid more and have everything included or have paid less and then paid for things individually.  It was kind of irritating to have to pay extra for soda or nicer desserts or the 'Supper Club'.Overall:Overall, we had a very good time.  In general, most of our enjoyment was the cruise in general and our destination, Alaska.  Things that would be specific to Carnival, other than our service, didn't really impress us much.  We will definitely give cruising another go, however, next time we'll try out a different cruise line.Ketchikan:We had a pretty good time in Ketchikan.  We did the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary, Eagles & Totems excursion there.  It was very enjoyable.  We had a very good naturalist on our walk.  We saw tons of eagles there and learned a lot about the temperate rain forest there.  Here, like all of the ports, however, was very 'touristy'.  If you're in the market for souvenirs or jewelry, you should be all set.  Every port we went to had about a million jewelry stores.  We had really excellent weather at this port.  It was around 65 and mostly sunny.Juneau:Here we did the Whale Quest & Orca Point Lodge excursion.  We saw many humpback whales, sea lions, and eagles.  All in all, we had a very good time.  The company running the tour (Allen Marine) was very good.   They offer excursions in all of the ports except Skagway.  Orca Point Lodge was very nice, however, the included lunch was kind of so-so. We had really excellent weather at this port.  It was around 60 and mostly sunny.  It rained very briefly early but cleared off before we go anywhere.Skagway:Here we did the White Pass & Yukon Railway excursion here.  We really enjoyed this excursion here as well.  The views in the mountains were fantastic and the trip up was narrated and enjoyable. We had really excellent weather at this port.  It was around 60 and mostly sunny.Sitka:We did not do an excursion in Sitka.  This was a tender port.  We got off the ship (which took about 45 minutes from start to shore) and walked around.  We had lunch here at a small cafe which was nice.  The weather was pretty bad this day.  It rained the whole day and was around 50 or so.  Given how nice the weather was the rest of the trip, however, it was no big deal.  We had prepared for the possibility anyway.Whittier/Anchorage:We added on the Alyeska Mountain Resort excursion since our flight didn't leave until 7:20 that night.  We had an excellent driver (Josh) who is a college student at Utah and was from Palmer Alaska.  We stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center, which was enjoyable.  We then went on to the Alyeska Ski Resort.  It was nice there, however, with taking the tram up to the top we had very limited time.  Also, the included lunch was just ok and very rushed.  We then headed over to the Native Heritage Center.  We also really enjoyed that.  By the time we made it to the airport, we only ended up needing to kill a couple of hours.  It was well worth the money. 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Sail Date June 2009
My husband (Rich) and I flew out of Orlando to Seattle and met up with our Army daughter Jean, who had her own inside cabin.  After a couple of days in Seattle we took Amtrak to Vancouver, which was very relaxing.  After a night in ... Read More
My husband (Rich) and I flew out of Orlando to Seattle and met up with our Army daughter Jean, who had her own inside cabin.  After a couple of days in Seattle we took Amtrak to Vancouver, which was very relaxing.  After a night in Vancouver, we walked to Canada Place and scoped out the ship, which was HUGE to us!  We returned to the hotel (Marriott Pinnacle), gathered our things, and arrived at the dock at 11 AM.  It was very well organized and after finishing all the processing, we had 20 minutes to wait until the 11:45 boarding.I was super excited to be one of the first to board.  We took a quick tour of the ship and went up to the Lido deck for lunch.  The Asian meal was decent.  We could finally enter our cabin at 1:30, we heard a thump not two minutes later, and our luggage arrived!  We were unpacked and ready for adventure by 2 PM. I toured the spa but never found the time or money for a treatment.  At our early dinner seating we discovered our travel agent (also on board) had gotten us one of the tables at the aft windows so we had a wonderful view for sailaway at 6 PM.  Aside from a few minor problems here and there, our dining room experiences were all excellent.I just couldn't drag myself away from the balcony with binoculars, long after my husband was asleep.  It was absolutely gorgeous out there.  It was never very cold on our cruise so the balcony was great.  We were up at 6 each morning, when room service arrived.  We watched cruise director Chris and his assistant on their morning show and it was entertaining.  I used a treadmill in the fitness center, which had great views, but that was the only day there wasn't a line for treadmills.  I didn't feel well and realized I hadn't taken Bonine.  I took it every morning after that and didn't have a problem after that, even on our last sea day, which was a little rough.  We ate at the hamburger grill but weren't impressed.It was pouring when we got to Ketchikan but soon brightened up.  I don't like to shop so I knew I needed to get out of town and had arranged for a three hour tour with Ketchikan Taxi Cab.  David Freeman picked us up at 10:30 and we had a great three hours a Potlatch Park, Totem Bight, and Settlers Cove, after which we surprised a black bear alongside the road.  The naturalist, Michelle, had told us we had no chance of seeing bears because none would have come down the mountains yet, but to be honest I wasn't very impressed with her.  We ate lunch at Cape Fox Lodge, where the food was great - I highly recommend it.  We walked past all the diamond and jewelry places and got back on the boat.That night we ate at the Nouveau Supper Club, which was very good although I thought the lobster had been better in the dining room the night before.  There was a complete rainbow in the sky as we left, which I considered a good omen.  The next morning we arrived in Juneau, which started out drizzly but turned beautiful.  We rented a car from Rent-a-Wreck and drove up to the Shrine of St. Therese, which was serene as we walked the labyrinth, then ate at Hot Bites (good but slow) in Auke Bay Marina, then boarded our 1:30 PM Harv an Marv whale watching tour!This was certainly one of the highlights of the trip and I recommend it to everyone.  With only six of us on board a very smooth boat, we saw many humpbacks and sea lions.  Afterward we visited Mendenhall Glacier, returned the rental car, and ate dinner at Hangar on the Whark, which was excellent but I was so full I had to walk two miles on deck before I would allow myself to rest!It was a gorgeous day when we arrived in Skagway and we picked up our Avis rental car at 8:30 and headed north.  Just past the border, we stopped to watch and photograph a brown bear at the side of the road.  I guess he got tired of that because he took a step toward the car and swiped at us, so we moved on.  We also saw Dall sheep as we entered the Yukon, visited the town of Carcross, turned around at Emerald Lake, and ate at Cinnamon Cache, which was good.  We returned to Skagway in time to eat at Bonanza, walk around, and see the movie about the Gold Rush at the Visitors Center, which was excellent.We saw lots and lots of whales traveling from Skagway to Sitka, although the naturalist gave us very little direction.  You couldn't miss the blows, and at one point a baby humpback was trying to breach.  That was something.  It was sunny and in the 70's in Sitka.  We were on the first tender out and we ate at the Westmark Hotel as we waited for our cruise with Capt. Davey.  In our three hours with him we saw a humpback as well as a gray whale, lots of otters, seals, and bald eagles, and adorable puffins.  It was a magical day and I hated to see it end.  Our second and last day at sea was rough so we hung around on Lido with our binoculars.  I hadn't eaten many meals up there and was shocked at the crowds at the buffets.  I wondered why they braved the crowds for mediocre food when the dining room served a great breakfast, lunch and dinner?  I must say I was a little disappointed with the food on the Lido deck.I was sad to leave the ship but debarkation was extremely well organized.  We were ready at 7 AM as instructed and our group was calledat 7:30.  Our shuttle (Girdwood) picked us up at 8:45 and we were at the airport by 10:30 picking up our rental car.  We spent the next two days in Denali.I would not hesitate to cruise Carnival again.  In fact, I'm looking into doing the Legend next! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Introduction:This cruise was planned approximately one and a half years in advance as our honeymoon. My wife and I were married in January, but had to wait until May for the first Alaskan cruise that Carnival offered. The cruise's ... Read More
Introduction:This cruise was planned approximately one and a half years in advance as our honeymoon. My wife and I were married in January, but had to wait until May for the first Alaskan cruise that Carnival offered. The cruise's main attraction was the day in Glacier Bay, which is only offered a few times each year. We spent four days in Ohio before the cruise visiting my wife's family, and then flew to Seattle. From Seattle we took the Quick Shuttle from Seattle/Tacoma Airport to the Vancouver area. It worked out to be cheaper doing that, than flying directly into Vancouver, or renting a car and driving there. The only real downside is that the shuttle ride takes about five hours since there are several stops to pick up and drop off others. We stayed the night at the Park Inn, which was very nice. The next day we spent some time down at the Vancouver waterfront, and then got a cab to the pier. Embarkation:We got to the pier around 11 AM, and the porters were quick to take our bags. The embarkation process at the Vancouver Cruise Terminal is probably one of the longest I have been through. The line for the security checkpoint was extremely long, and didn't move for about 20 minutes. I wasn't overly worried about this, since they weren't even loading the ship yet. I asked one of the Carnival reps. if there was a VIP line, and he said he didn't know, so we just stayed in the regular line. Once they opened up all the security lanes, it went quickly. We then had to enter the line to go through US Customs. This also went very slowly, almost a half-hour, since there were only four or five agents to check hundreds of people. Once we were through Customs, we approached a kiosk where two Carnival reps were standing. There were two lines, and the one to the left had two signs. One sign said "in transit guests" (back to back cruisers) and right behind it was another that said VIP. Being in a suite, and Platinum, we got in the left line. Once we got to the lady, she said we needed to be in the line to the right, and that her line was for the back-to-back cruisers. I pointed to the VIP sign, and she said, "oh, ok" and handed us the health declaration papers. Dumbfounded Carnival employees seemed to be a developing trend. She then pointed us to the VIP check in desk, and off we went. After this, everything went fast and we were on the ship in only a few minutes. The whole process took about an hour, and didn't seem very organized. I attribute the lack of knowledge on the Carnival employees' part to the fact that this was the first cruise of the season out of Vancouver, so there were bound to be problems. One security officer did help things by addressing the crowd when she escorted several back-to-back cruisers past everyone. She did a good job informing new guests about why the others were passing them. That little twenty-second oration probably eliminated 50 complaints from the angry folks waiting in the customs line. Overall, the whole embarkation process at Vancouver needs a lot of work. It shouldn't take an hour to board the ship when I can be onboard in 15 minutes anywhere else. Customs is mostly to blame, so its good that Alaska cruises will be leaving from Seattle starting next year. I also think that Carnival needs to extend its VIP embarkation to all steps of the process. The current system doesn't really do much since the only benefit is skipping the line to get to the check in counter. The Ship:I was immediately impressed with the Carnival Spirit. In my ten prior cruises with Carnival, none have been on a Spirit Class vessel. I had heard many good things about them, all of which are true. The ship has a wonderfully simple layout, and not having the galley in the middle of the ship makes traversing it much easier. I will never understand why Carnival only built four of them with no apparent plans to revisit the design. The layout just seems vastly superior to that of the other classes. My only complaint is that you have to walk through the casino to get back and forth on Deck 2 (Promenade). On the other ships, the Promenade is separated from the casino by a wall. The Spirit was recently dry-docked which was blatantly apparent. Everything was immaculately clean, far and away the cleanest cruise ship I have ever been on. It was hard to believe that she is almost eight years old, looking as if she had just been launched. All the carpeting in the hallways had been replaced. I really can't say enough about how nice the Spirit looked inside. There was tasteful brass and wood paneling everywhere, and very little in the way of "Vegas" glitz that Carnival had become infamous for. The staircases looked as if they had been lifted from some grand old ocean liner, very similar to those I had seen on the Queen Mary. Each flight had glass cases in the corners displaying sculptures, and some landings had large paintings decorating the walls. The public areas were tastefully decorated with wood panels, stained glass lighting and ornate metal moldings lining the ceilings. Even most of the lounges, normally the epicenters of gaudiness, were considerably tame compared to those found on the older Carnival ships. The only areas that seemed to have huge "Joe Farcus was here!" signs on them were the "Dancin" discotheque and the Pharaoh's Palace show lounge. The former having the standard Farcus wild colors and weird shapes; and the latter looking like the inside of King Tut's Tomb. The Versailles Cabaret Lounge was certainly one of the most detailed rooms I have seen on a Carnival ship. Each archway along the walls had a 3-D scene of a French village, making it look as if they are outside the ship. It was a very cool effect, something you would almost expect to see at Disney rather than on a cruise ship. The little scenes even go from daytime to nighttime with little stars and lights when the lounge's lighting is turned down for shows. Our Cabin:We had #4228 on Main Deck, which is a category 11 suite with a balcony that wraps around the port side (aft) corner of the ship. We were told by almost everyone that if we were taking an Alaskan cruise we should get a balcony room. We took that advice to heart as the balcony alone is over 200 square feet, and is gigantic! It was fantastic having a view off both the aft and the port sides of the ship. The two aft wraps on Main Deck are also special because their balconies are covered by the balcony above. This creates an overhang that shields them from the weather. This was particularly useful since the whole appeal of an Alaska cruise is the sightseeing and it frequently rains. We usually cruise interior cabins, sometimes Ocean View if we get a free or low priced upgrade. Because of this, being in a suite was a real treat. I couldn't believe how nice the room was. It was divided into two main rooms, a sitting room with a couch and a bedroom. The bathroom and vanity area were located between them. The bathroom had double sinks and a large Jacuzzi tub. The tub had nice sliding glass doors, which is a huge improvement over the standard polyester curtain found in the regular cabins. Both rooms had a TV, and both had VCRs (which were on loan from the Smithsonian). There were multiple lighting controls in each room, one for the main lights, and one was a dimmer switch that operated the recessed halogen lights in the ceiling. Aside from the Owners Suites on the Fantasy Class ships, I think the Spirit Class suites 4228 and 4237 are the best rooms available on Carnival Cruise Lines. Day 1: VancouverMost of the first day has been covered above. After finally getting aboard, and exploring the ship we unpacked and relaxed for a while. The crew did a great job delivering the luggage. We had ours in only a couple of hours after arriving. We intended to go to the Supper Club the first night, but we were informed that it was closed due to lack of reservations. I went up on deck and watched the ship sail under a large bridge outside of Vancouver. Not quite as impressive as cruising under the Sunshine Skyway in Tampa, but still pretty neat to see. Our wait staff at dinner was very good, as was our bar server. Day 2: At SeaThe second day was spent at sea, cruising quickly along the coast of British Columbia towards Juneau. We had an excellent breakfast in the main dining room, their Eggs Benedict was some of the best I have had. We saw several humpback whales swimming off the port side of the ship several times throughout the day. The ships naturalist Dirk kept us updated on whale sightings several times during the day. Our Cruise Critic Roll Call group all met up at 1:00 pm, we had many show up and it was nice to finally meet everyone that I had been talking to for so long. Around the same time, the weather was really clearing up. The sun came out and it became a really nice day. Folks were out on deck in loungers and the temperature was in the low 60s all day. It if weren't for the snow capped mountains in the distance, I would have thought I was on a Caribbean cruise!In the afternoon I got around to visiting the ship's spa. I was really impressed with the facilities. The steam and sauna rooms were working perfectly, and the gym has a nice stepped design that allows more people to see out onto the water. This ship's spa still had it's hot tub in place. I was happy to see this since they have been removing them from a lot of ships to make room for more "revenue friendly" fixtures such as aerobics rooms. This night was the first of two formal nights. Since the clientele of this cruise was considerably different than that of a Caribbean cruise, I saw many more folks dressed up than I usually do. I saw very few folks in jeans and t-shirts, and those that were not dressed up didn't seem to make it to the dining room. The prime rib they served at dinner was the best I have had on a cruise. The lobster was ok, but not great. I mostly attribute the proper dress and etiquette to an older and more "cruise experienced" group. It was refreshing, as was the almost complete lack of children onboard. I don't know that I have ever seen a Carnival ship that didn't have roving gangs of teens and tweens along with dozens of younger ones playing in the hot tubs and stairwells. Day 3: JuneauThe ship was not scheduled to arrive at Juneau until 2 PM, so we attended the Newlywed, Not So Newlywed Game in the main lounge. It was funny as usual, and Chris Roberts did a good job not letting it get too cheesy. On that topic, Chris is a great Cruise Director. He has a type of humor that I really like, a sort of nerdy dry humor that could best be compared to the likes of Seth Rogen. He also does a morning news show that I have not seen done before. It is a welcome change from the standard P.A. announcements, and is done in a more entertaining talk show format. As we came into Juneau, Dirk made lots of announcements about animal sightings and also the history of some of the buildings we were seeing. As we were pulling up to the dock I was able to get some good pictures of Juneau itself, and of RCI's Serenade of the Seas, which was docked behind us. Before we could get off the ship, we had to wait in a huge mob of folks wanting to get off. Definitely one of the least organized I have yet seen. They only had one security card scanner going at our gangway, which made it even slower. Apparently the Spirit excels in all fields except getting guests on and off the ship in an efficient and timely manner. We eventually got off, but it wasn't pleasant. Normally we would have waited an hour to even head down to the gangway, but unfortunately we had a tour booked. It would be nice if Carnival had priority debarkation at the ports of call for Platinum and suite guests. They already have priority tender boarding, so it would be a pretty easy (and free!) thing to add.We made our way down to Orca Enterprises' office and checked in for our whale watching boat tour. I learned about Orca Enterprises from Cruise Critic, and am sure glad I did. During our trip we saw two humpback whales, a whole pod of orcas, a bald eagle, and several sea lions laying on a buoy. It was a great trip, the boat wasn't crowded at all and they even served snacks and drinks on board. Captain Larry and his crew did a great job and I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone going to Juneau that wants to see whales. They even have a money back guarantee if you don't see any whales. After seeing how crowded the whale watching boats were that folks who booked through Carnival were on; I was really glad we paid less and had a nicer, less crowded boat. We also learned that when he isn't working on cruise ships, our naturalist Dirk actually works for Orca Enterprises!After the boat tour, we were taken out to Mendenhall Glacier. We also booked this through Orca Enterprises, so they picked us up right at the dock where the whale watching tour ended. The Mendenhall Glacier was beautiful and the movie in the visitors center was very informative. We got lots of great pictures!After getting back to Juneau we bought tickets to go up the Mount Roberts Tramway. The gondolas have a near vertical, over 2000 foot climb right up the side of Mt. Roberts. The view from the top is breathtaking. You can see the entirety of downtown Juneau, as well as the inlet and cruise ship docks. The overlook also gives you a total panoramic view of all the snow capped mountains around Juneau. We went up around 8:30 PM, so the movie theater, restaurant and bar were all closed. The gift shop was still open, as was the nature center. I walked around on some snow while I was up there, and being a Florida native it was only my third time doing so. We stayed up there long enough to watch the Serenade of the Seas to leave port. We then returned down the mountain and returned to the ship.At the end of the day we had dinner in the Spirit's supper club. It was excellent, and they served one of the best filet mignon steaks I have ever had. We found it to be just as good as the food we got in the Glory's supper club. The only exception was the lobster bisque, it was too sweet and not very good. Day 4, Glacier Bay:The entire day was spent cruising Glacier Bay, we visited several glaciers and saw whales, mountain goats, sea lions and seals. This was very possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I won't waste time and words trying to describe it, I couldn't even begin to do it justice. The only way to know what its like is to go and see it. Everyone seemed very excited about this visit, especially the crew. Most of the crewmen I had talked to said that they had never been to Alaska before so this was a new experience for them too. I saw almost as many crew out on deck watching and snapping pictures as I did guests. We attempted to have lunch in the lido buffet, but it was extremely crowded, as was the main dining room. We just went back to the cabin and got room service instead. I didn't think the buffet food is as good on the Spirit as it has been on some of the other ships. I did like that the pizzeria had a daily pasta selection, I got it almost every time we ate there. In the evening we went to the "Blues Bothers" show in the main lounge. It was mostly a tribute to the SNL classic by Chris the cruise director, along with the band. He did a good impression of Belushi's character, and was funny with the singing and dancing. We almost didn't make it to the show since the entirety of Deck 3's public areas were clogged with people waiting to go into dinner. This really puzzles me, especially since half the people on board are past guests. I wondered why they hadn't figured out that there is no need to wait in a line to get to an assigned seat. The maitre 'd isn't going to give them away! I suppose after a few more cruises some of them may figure out that if you just go minutes late you can just walk right in.The day finished again in the supper club. We had a table in the balcony during this visit, the previous day was on the main floor, port side. The meal was equally as good as the night before. We did discover one design flaw though. On the Spirit Class ships, the supper club is at the very top of the main atrium, open to the floors below. While this makes for a very neat effect, the sound coming from the lobby and other areas can really take away from the ambiance. The entertainment in the lobby was live country and classic rock. While I certainly have no problem with it, it was a little odd to be having a "fancy" dinner while listening to a lounge singer croon "Friends In Low Places" and "Neon Moon". Also, at a few points singing from another area mixed in, so we had two different singers singing two different songs! The unwelcome music aside, the second experience in the supper club went very well and the food was delicious. Day 5, Skagway:We arrived at Skagway before I even woke up, so it was good that we didn't have any early excursions. After walking around the historic downtown area and taking some pictures, we went back to the ship and had lunch. There is not a huge amount of things to do in Skagway besides tours and excursions. My wife and I booked the White Pass Rail Road tour which departed from a rail line that runs right down the pier next to the ship. The trip runs about 30 miles up through the mountains from Skagway to the Canadian border. The sights on this trip are unbelievable. Huge valleys, snow covered mountains, a frozen lake and a winding river were some of the highlights. As with Glacier Bay, any attempt on my part to describe it would be pointless. I will just say that it is well worth the 3 hours and 100 or so dollars to take this trip. The past guest party was held later in the evening before dinner. Chris did something I had never seen done before. He had a sort of trivia game for some of the past guests. Whoever wanted to could come up on stage and he would ask questions about Carnival. There would be two possible answers and folks would go to one side of the stage or the other depending on what they thought the answer was. Those who got it wrong would have to sit down. I made it to the last round, just me and one other guy, before I got eliminated. Apparently Robert Wagner did a Carnival commercial, I did not know that. Not knowing cost me a shot at a free dinner in the supper club for two, but life goes on. Day 6, Ketchikan:Our day in Ketchikan started late, we slept in until 930 AM. We made it to breakfast just before they closed the dining room. After eating we watched the ship pull up to the pier and tie up. The NCL ship Norwegian Star was already at her berth, and we pulled up at the pier right by the downtown area. I wasn't sure why we got the better "parking spot" since we got there later, but I wasn't complaining either. It was convenient being able to walk off the ship and be right at the shopping area. We did a little shopping and also visited a booth set up by a bird of prey sanctuary. The guys running it were very nice, and had three birds on display. A screech owl, a red tailed hawk and a female bald eagle. All the animals had been injured in some way and could not be returned to the wild. The foundation runs on donations, so we were sure to leave one. Our shore excursion for this cruise was the "Flight-seeing and Crab Feast". It consisted of a half hour flight on a seas plane over the Ketchikan area followed by a landing at George Inlet. The plane then pulls up to the George Inlet Lodge, and the passengers debark for a Dungeness Crab feast. The trip on the sea plane was really nice and our pilot Mark was friendly and informative. The take off and landing were very smooth as was the ride. The Ketchikan area from the sky is a beautiful thing to see, it also gave us a great view of the cruise ships. Our crab feast at the lodge was equally wonderful. The six of us on the tour had our own private dining room with an open beer and wine bar, as well as soft drinks. I am a big fan of crab legs, and these were the best I have ever had. Our hosts informed us that all the crab they serve is harvested within a hundred mile radius, and is very fresh. They brought helping after helping and everyone left full! The Alaskan Amber beer they served was also very good, I had two glasses. We then had a motor coach ride back to the ship, and debarked right back at the pier. It was an excellent excursion, well worth the rather steep $215 per person price tag. After our great excursion, we strolled around downtown Ketchikan and down Canal Street. Canal Street is the area that most photos of Ketchikan show. All the building are up on stilts above the canal, and it was once the "red light district". We took a little tram up to a Lodge at the top of a hill near Canal Street, but there wasn't much to do there. We just rode the tram back down and headed back to the ship. I was very satisfied with our day in Ketchikan. After getting back on the ship we hit the spa's hot tub for awhile. We then went swimming in the "dome pool" which turned out to be hotter than the hot tubs! Since that pool is covered, they heat it for the Alaska cruises.I got some bad news from the pursers desk during the afternoon. We needed to be off the ship by 8 AM on the last day to catch our shuttle back to Seattle. I was counting on my VIP debarkation to get us off the ship as early as possible. On a previous cruise, I was given Concierge Club VIP tags for the luggage and a letter saying that I could be in the group to debark first. Well, those tags and letter didn't come. We got regular tags with zone number 4 on them. I went by the Platinum desk to find out why, and was told that Carnival can't offer VIP debarkation at Vancouver for Platinum Guests or suite guests. She didn't give a reason why. So we were left to hope that we would be able to debark in time. Yet another reason that I DO NOT LIKE the Port of Vancouver. I am happy that Carnival will be switching to Seattle in 2010, just in case we decide to do another Alaskan cruise. Day 7, At Sea:Our last day at sea was pretty uneventful. My wife used my complimentary entry into the slot tournament and finished third in the first round. She ended up getting bumped off the leader board though. We went back for the final round, where the raffle off a wildcard seat. It must have been her lucky day, because she won the wild card seat out of probably 70 or so other people. The casino host was really nice and gave her a Carnival Players Club shirt and hat. She didn't win the tournament, but she had a good time. We also took the private galley tour for Platinum guests. It was really nice, there were only six of us on the tour. The Lido Deck Maitre 'd was the tour leader and he showed us all around the galley. It was really nice not having to go in the big line, and we had time to take lots of photos and not feel rushed.Before dinner we spent a little more time out on the Lord's balcony. We thanked our servers and tipped them extra; Jon and Rex were two of the best we have had. Afterward, we made an appearance at the piano bar and were two of the three people there. We stopped at the "Dancin" disco and were greeted by a security officer who said "you're the first customers of the night!" which was kind of sad. We hung out for one song and left for the cabin. It just isn't as fun when nobody is there. I will say that the design of the dance clubs on the Spirit class is really nice. It is two floors, with a spiral staircase in between. There is seating on both levels, but the dance floor is at the bottom, and there is seating around the top floor that looks down on to it. We put or luggage outside the cabin and gave everything a last once over before going to bed. The last night of any cruise is sad, but leaving a cruise as good as this one, with a fantastic cabin is really, really hard to do!Day 8, Debarkation and Seattle:We had our sad, final breakfast in the dining room as usual and then waited in our cabin for our zone number to be called. At Vancouver, the Spirit has two gangways, one near the photo gallery on Deck 3, the other next to the entrance to the Empire Dining Room, also on deck 3. Our cabin was just a short walk from the aft gangway, so we just sat in our room hoping that we would be called to that one. As luck would have it we did get called to the aft gangway, and we got there before anyone else. The self-assist passengers had just gone through there, so we were able to walk right off the ship. After we got through Canadian Customs we got our luggage and made it to our shuttle with about a half hour to spare. I will say that the debarkation at Vancouver went MUCH smoother than the embarkation. Epilogue: After our shuttle to Seattle we checked in to our hotel near Seattle-Tacoma International and then headed to the Waterfront. We had a nice dinner and visited the Pike Street Market. I can't say much for the market, wasn't my style. The guys throwing the fish were the main attraction that my wife wanted to see. After she got to see a fish being thrown we left. Then we went to, and then up in, the Space Needle. After seeing it in pictures many times, it was really something to actually go up in it. Even though Seattle was a good time, it was mostly like a mint after a four star dinner. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Alaska - Carnival Spirit - September 17-24, 2008 Overall, this was a wonderful cruise on the Spirit. This was my fifth cruise, and the second time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to meet ... Read More
Alaska - Carnival Spirit - September 17-24, 2008 Overall, this was a wonderful cruise on the Spirit. This was my fifth cruise, and the second time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to meet many wonderful people (a number of whom were Cruise Critic members). THE SHIP: The Spirit was a large ship, but smaller than many of the new ships afloat. It was built in 2000 and was in very good condition. My inside stateroom (Category 4C) was on the Empress Deck, room 6114. It was close to the bow and on the 6th deck. The room was quite large (approx. 185 sq. ft.) with a very comfortable bed (two twin beds pushed together) with lovely linens, etc. There was plenty of closet and storage space and even if there had been two people in the cabin, there would have been lots of closet space. The bathroom was a decent size (no tub; just a shower) with lots of room to put away toiletries, etc. The towels were plush and the bathrobe was very comfortable. There was a desk/vanity and chair, a flat screen tv and a refrigerator. All in all, it was a very comfortable room. The sound proofing was very good and I rarely heard my neighbors. A few feet down the hall from my cabin was a door that led to a small laundry area on with coin operated washers and dryers and irons/ironing boards. It was often very busy. The dEcor of the ship was a bit loud, but overall, was fine. The decorator used a "deco" theme for much of the ship and this was reflected in the color choices, stained glass lamps everywhere, lots of mirrors/windows, and dark wood. There was a large atrium in the center of the ship that went all the way from the 2nd deck to 10th deck. At the top of the ship was a sports area and the entrance to the water slide. On deck 10 there was a walking/jogging track that circled the entire ship (3.5 laps/mile). It was nice to be able to walk on a longer track and it was quite wide, so it never felt crowed. Below that was the Lido deck that contained the Gym and the Spa. The gym was located at the very front of the ship and had plenty of windows and had two levels. The gym had lots of modern equipment and it was always busy. Next to the gym was a sauna and steam room. I never used the spa facilities nor the hair salon, however, it always seemed busy (especially on "formal night" days). There were 3 pools on the Lido deck and a number of large hot tubs. Because of the cold Alaska weather, the pools were mostly empty. The pool at mid-ship had a roof over it, so it was a bit warmer. The surrounding decks had lots of deck chairs set out, but they were never busy. Inside the Lido Deck was the Buffet (La Playa Grille) area. There were stations on each side of the ship including a deli area and an oriental stir fry area, a pizzeria and a grille to get hamburgers, etc. beside the Fantail Bar at the very back of the ship. Although it was always busy, I never had a problem finding a place to sit. Outside the Lido Buffet at the very back of the ship was another outdoor pool (adults only) and an area with deck chairs, tables/chairs, etc. And there were soft serve ice cream or yogurt stations located in various spots on the Lido deck. The Panorama, Veranda, Empress and Upper Decks all contain only passenger cabins. On the Main Deck (4th deck) was where to find the upper level of the Pharaoh's Palace Lounge (the show lounge) and the Arcade. On the Atlantic deck (3rd deck) were the shops, the library/internet area, chapel, the photo area and various bars/lounges and the mezzanine level of the Pharaoh's Palace Lounge. The shops were typical and, for the most part, fairly expensive. There was an outside promenade area on each side of the ship for walking, etc., but the two sides were not completely connected, so that meant you couldn't walk a circuit under a bit of cover. The Casino was located on the Promenade deck (2nd deck) and was fairly large and always busy. Unfortunately they allow smoking in the Casino, so it was unpleasant to be in there. On this deck there were a number of different bars and lounges and a disco and karaoke area, etc. Also on this deck was the front office, shore excursions office, Purser's Desk, etc. The atrium area on the Promenade Deck was always very busy and there was a nice bar area for drinks before dinner. The main level of the Pharaoh's Palace Lounge (where the daily bingo and other games and evening shows took place) was large and was very comfortable. The sight lines, sound system, lighting, etc. were all fine, with just a few seats blocked by pillars. At the back of the ship on the 2nd and 3rd decks was the Empire Restaurant (the main dining room). It was well lit, well laid out, etc. I was sitting at a table for 6 on the lower level of the Restaurant (8:15 pm; late seating). The table was always beautifully set with nice linens, crystal, china, silver, etc. There was an infirmary that was very well equipped and prepared for pretty much any type of emergency. Overall, the ship was easy to navigate and there were lots of elevators and staircases and wide hallways, etc. Therefore, it never felt overly crowded. For the able-bodied, the ship was great. For those with mobility issues, there seemed to be good access to all the public spaces, with room for wheelchairs, walkers, etc. There were some bottleneck area near the elevators in the atrium, and also near the entrances to the dining room. THE PASSENGERS: Typical of an Alaska cruise in September, there were very few children on board and the age range of the adults was across the board. There were 20 year old newlyweds to very elderly seniors. About three-quarters of the passengers were from the United States and about one-quarter from Canada, Australia and elsewhere. I think there were about 2,100 passengers on board. Overall, I found the people on board to be friendly and kind. This was the most casual cruise I've been on and also the shortest. All the passengers seemed to really enjoy themselves and I rarely heard any of the whining and complaining so prevalent on other cruises. CREW and CUISINE and ENTERTAINMENT: I found all the crew members I dealt with to be friendly and professional. The front office staff were always very helpful. The dining room staff were terrific and overall my dining experience was great. The bar/lounge staff were very good. The cruise director (Chris ("Bubba") Roberts) and his staff were fun and energetic. Like previous Carnival cruises, the crew were from all over the world. I thought the food on board the ship was very good. Every evening I got to try new things, or have items I haven't thought to cook in years. The presentation was good and the food was usually hot when it arrived at the table. I found the portion sizes to be smaller, but that's a good thing! The food in the Lido was also very good and I enjoyed all the variety of foods. I ate most of my breakfasts in the Empire Restaurant and all of my lunches in the Lido Buffet. I went to about half of the shows in the Pharaoh's Lounge. The staff singers and dancers were good, but not up to the standard found on other ships. Chris Roberts (CD) did a "Blue Brothers" tribute show that was surprisingly good and the "Legends" show on the last night was great fun. PRE-CRUISE AND EMBARKATION: This cruise left from Vancouver, BC. Because I live in Vancouver, I was able to take transit downtown and just walk to the entrance at Canada Place. I waited until 2 pm as I had read that the lines could be quite long between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. I only had one carry-on size suitcase, so I just walked on with it instead of checking it and having it delivered to my cabin later in the day. Embarkation was similar to what I've experienced in the past at other ports. I had entered all my information online before hand, and it took about 20 minutes to clear security, customs and then check in. All in all, fast and painless. PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS: For this cruise I decided to only book one shore excursion in advance (Skagway). I thought it would be best to wait until I saw what the weather was like in Juneau and Ketchikan before deciding what to do in those ports. Juneau, Alaska The weather was rainy with low cloud and we only arrived at 1:30 pm. I took the shuttle bus from the pier to the Mendenhall Glacier. Because of problems with the first 2 buses I got on (neither would start) and having to wait until 3 pm for the 3rd bus to come along, I was treated to a city tour as well as the trip out to Mendenhall Glacier (all for $14/return). Juneau is quite small, but pretty. We had 45 minutes out at the Glacier. On a good weather day it would be great to have about 2 hours there in order to hike along the trail closer to the glacier. I had about an hour to wander around the shops in town (lots of end of season sales) and then reboarded the ship around 7 pm. A number of people did whale watching tours while in Juneau (both through the ship and privately) and seemed to really enjoy themselves with lots of sightings of whales. Skagway, Alaska I had booked a tour with Chilkoot Charters in advance. There was a group of 11 of us and our driver (BJ) met us with a van at the entrance to the pier. We drove about 1 mile to the train station and boarded the White Pass & Yukon train. Our train left about 8:15 am and was about 8 cars long. The passenger cars were old but warm and the windows were large for taking in the scenery. There was room to stand outside on the platform between the railcars. There was a second train with many more cars that was parked at the pier ready for the passengers who had booked excursions through Carnival. That train left about 30 minutes after ours. There was a guide on board who gave a running commentary through the PA system. She happened to be located in our railcar along with the conductor, so we got to ask them lots of questions and I think we got so much more out of the tour because of that. The rail trip was great and the scenery was amazing. There was a bit of cloud cover and fog at the top of the pass, but for the most part the day was glorious. The autumn colors were spectacular and there was fresh snow on the mountain tops. After about 1.5 hours we stopped in Fraser, BC and cleared customs and BJ met us there with the van. We then drove up as far as Emerald Lake in the Yukon and backtracked to Carcross where we had lunch at a dog sledding camp. Lunch was very good and we got to spend about an hour with the dogs and touring the attached museum. We then drove back to Skagway along the Klondike Highway. We were able to stop whenever we wanted to take pictures, but we didn't see any wildlife. Too late in the season for that, I guess. Once back in Skagway we had about 45 minutes to shop and walk back to the ship. I would highly recommend Chilkoot Charters for shore excursions in Skagway. Ketchikan, Alaska We arrived in this fishing town at about 11 am. The weather started off sunny and warm (it rained later in the day). I decided to just walk around the town and take in the sights. There is a visitor information building at the pier and they have a good map available with 2 different walking tours set out. I did the west side of town before lunch and the rest of town in the afternoon. All in all, I walked 11 miles that day! The walking tour was easy (although there were lots of stairs, steep streets, etc. if you wanted to get off the beaten track a bit). Because we were one of the last cruise ships to call at Ketchikan for the season, there were lots of "blow out" sales in the shops. They were doing a very brisk business. Some of the excursions available in Ketchikan included float plane trips, fishing trips, and hiking with wildlife viewing. Glacier Bay, Alaska Between our stops in Juneau and Skagway, we had a day of cruising in Glacier Bay, Alaska. We were fortunate to have fairly clear weather and the day spent cruising amongst the glaciers was amazing. We were able to get quite close the Reid Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier and Marjorie Glacier. The captain travelled very slowly through the Bay and came to a complete stop and/or turned the ship around 360º so that all passengers would be able to view the glaciers. There were National Park Rangers on board for the day and they gave a running commentary over the PA system and were available for answering questions. We also had 2 days at sea. The first and last days were cruising through the Inside Passage along the coast of British Columbia. Travelling north we were in fairly thick fog and so there was nothing to see. Coming back down the weather was a bit better and the scenery beautiful. One note - when we left Vancouver we were sailing into a beautiful sunset and passed through a "superpod" of 70-100 orca whales! The naturalist on board (Michelle) was astounded by the sight and you could really hear the excitement in her voice during her announcements over the PA system. Michelle gave a few talks during the cruise and was always on the bridge looking out for whales and would announce sightings whenever possible. DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation was very smooth. The first people off the ship left around 7:30 am. Because I was walking off the ship with my suitcase and taking transit home, I chose to have a leisurely breakfast and then finish packing and walked off the ship at 8:15 am. Once off the ship, we had to clear customs which took about 5 minutes. It was so hard to say good-bye to the ship...I certainly wasn't prepared to leave. FINAL COMMENT: This was probably the most relaxed I've been on a cruise ship. The atmosphere was very casual and the passengers friendly. Not having to travel by air for a day before and after the cruise was a big bonus for me. I realize that I've only see a very small portion of Alaska, and I'm looking forward to returning on another cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.The staff in the dining room was great. ... Read More
We had a fantastic cruise! We were first time cruisers, and didn't know exactly what to expect, but it was great. Our cabin was very nice and adequately equipped. The ship was always clean.The staff in the dining room was great. I'm a vegetarian and had no issues finding a good meal.We were a little disappointed with the shows; they seemed just slightly better than a lot of high school drama performances I've attended. Not painful to sit through, but not deserving of any accolades either. We enjoyed the comedian and the bars at night. The casino was just your average casino.We spent as much time in port as possible and spent the rest of our time on our balcony, so not much more to report about the ship. It wasn't really pool weather but we did soak in one of the hot tubs shortly after the ship left Vancouver, and it was perfect! Almost no crowds, and great views. I would never do this cruise without a balcony. Too much beautiful scenery! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This was a first cruise for me (the 3 day Disney Big Red Boat to the Bahamas with the kids 20 years ago hardly counts!) and third one for my wife. She and several friends completed the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk in Seattle the weekend ... Read More
This was a first cruise for me (the 3 day Disney Big Red Boat to the Bahamas with the kids 20 years ago hardly counts!) and third one for my wife. She and several friends completed the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk in Seattle the weekend before the cruise, which the hubbies deemed a suitable reward for them after the 60 miler. None of the others had been on a cruise before. We flew up to Vancouver the day before embarkation to spend time at Stanley Park walking and visiting the wonderful Aquarium. We stayed at the Blue Horizon Hotel in Vancouver which was well situated on Robson Street and close to the Park and the cruise ship terminal at Canada Place. The hotel had a very nice small restaurant and very large rooms, essentially suites, for reasonable rates. We got around town with taxi and trolley just fine. Vancouver is very busy getting ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics with lots of construction going on. We booked Carnival Spirit as it was on a midweek departure cycle that fit best with our schedule for the Seattle walk. While it's quite long and fits 2600 passengers, we never felt crowded and only one of our party was occasionally lost. The public areas are spacious if glitzy and had a "Vegas on the Water" feeling, but hey it is a Fun Ship! We used a local travel agent to book the small group and were very happy with her efforts to group our rooms and have us sitting together at dinner. I had completed the Fun Pass information online and spent literally about three minutes at the desk signing in. We arrived just after lunch and nobody seemed to be spending very much time in line to check-in, all in all a very efficient process including clearing American customs prior to boarding. Our bags arrived outside our room within ½ hour of boarding the ship. There were not many small children on board due to the mid-September sail date but otherwise a broad range of ages were represented. Our room was #7202, an extended balcony cabin on the port side mid-ship. My wife had never had a balcony room, and she is emphatic she will never travel without one again! DEcor was mild and the room spacious with a convertible sofa and coffee table. The king bed was next to the floor-to-ceiling exterior glass wall, perfect for watching the scenery roll by without getting up from bed! Closet and drawer space was adequate and the luggage stored under the bed. The bathroom was smallish with a shower only. The room steward was friendly, helpful and unobtrusive. Overall the onboard service was cheerful, efficient and helpful. Not a bad encounter in the whole cruise. We ate in the main dining room for all but one dinner. Service was excellent and the food was generally quite good, however twice in the course of the cruise someone in our party sent back meat that was over/under done for their taste. Those in the group that drink soda were disappointed that they had to pay for soft drinks. We had dinner in the Supper Club one night and food and service were exemplary. Everyone thought the evening was well worth the extra $30 each. The men in our group wore jacket and tie for the formal nights and the supper club (not many tuxedos on the ship). Most of us ate breakfast and lunch in the La Playa Grill on the Lido deck which had made to order omelets and hot sandwiches, 24 hour pizza and ice cream, oriental food station and varying daily regional theme foods. We even had lunch as the Captain slowly rotated the ship around in circles right in front of a glacier to ensure a 360 degree views! Overall, the food and food service was very good and better than anticipated. We were quite lucky with weather and animal sightings. Less than an hour out of Vancouver we were sailing in the midst of a very large pod of orcas that even had the onboard naturalist excited. There were several Humpback whale encounters both on the way up and down the inside passage as well as sea lions, sea otters and seals basking on the ice in Glacier Bay. Two bald eagles perched in trees right across from the docked Spirit greeted us at Juneau! Temperature throughout the voyage hovered in the 50's, but Juneau was the only port were it rained on our excursions. Glacier Bay was sunny and bright during our stay and several rainbows made a colorful show as we left and the weather closed back in. At both Skagway and Ketchikan locals commented that our port day was the first sunny day they had seen in three weeks. Getting off the ship while in port, although very orderly, required some time as you need to swipe you Fun Card upon leaving and re-boarding. Even with using two machines the line to get off was long. It was better to wait awhile if you did not need to get off right away for an excursion. Getting back on was a bit better as people returned at different times. In Juneau our entire group went on a canoe paddle across Lake Mendenhall to the face of the glacier. The weather was the worst of the trip with wind and rain at times and temperatures in the low 50's. The paddling was not too strenuous and the view from in front of the glacier was spectacular despite the weather. Even though some complained at the time, this turned out to be everyone's favorite excursion of the trip. Stuck our heads in at the Red Dog Saloon which looked busy and we didn't go in. Docked at Skagway to another clearing sky and saw the sights in town before taking the Yukon and White Pass Railroad up the mountain. Warm and dry with magnificent views going up and down the mountain. Huge end of season sales at stores in all ports with apparent bargains in jewelry tempted some to spend time shopping in Ketchikan. We also took the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman excursion on the F/V Aleutian Ballad. Well worth it, especially if you're a fan of the show. The fishermen and their stories are really the hit of the day along with the chance to hold the crabs. We went to three of the evening shows in the Pharaohs' lounge, very much Vegas style if not Vegas size. Found them enjoyable enough. I can't say the same for the piano player in the Atrium lounge that could not sing at all but persisted in trying every night. Several in our group went to class to learn how to make the towel animals that show up on your bed every night and enjoyed it a lot. The women treated themselves to a Spa session early in the voyage and found it quite therapeutic if pricey. Lost at Bingo, did not try our luck at the casino, and did not visit any of the other lounges or bars- too tired after all the activities on shore to stay up very late. Disembarkation was as easy and quick as embarkation and luggage waiting just where it was supposed to be. We signed up for Pacific Coach Lines from the cruise ship terminal in Vancouver to downtown Victoria after the cruise independently. It's a very nice way to get to Vancouver Island. They pick you up, load you bags on the bus and drive you to the ferry dock which is quite a distance away. The bus drive onto the ferry, you get off the bus and join the rest of the passengers upstairs for the scenic crossing to Victoria. Onboard cafeteria had a decent lunch. Once at the ferry dock at Vancouver Island you re-board the bus which takes you the remaining 25 miles to Victoria. The downtown bus depot is just 2-3 blocks form most downtown hotels...very nice. Victoria is a charming small city and we spent two days there seeing the museum and gardens and walking along the inner harbor. A lot of the cruise ships from Seattle stop there but typically spend only 4-6 hours in port in the evening, not nearly enough time to do the city justice. In summary, we had a great experience. The timing of the trip meant the fares were almost half of peak season fares. Except for one day in Juneau the weather co-operated and we were fortunate to see marine animals galore throughout the voyage. The walkers recuperated in style and everyone is looking forward to our next chance to go cruising! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This was my first cruise on a huge 'CruiseShip' and I had come to expect at least a great night's sleep based on a variety of source materials. It came as quite a surprise that the very used nearly 6" inch thick ... Read More
This was my first cruise on a huge 'CruiseShip' and I had come to expect at least a great night's sleep based on a variety of source materials. It came as quite a surprise that the very used nearly 6" inch thick 'mattress' was also concave in both directions - top to bottom AND side to side. When I called the 'front desk' to find out if something could be done, I was informed that there were no other mattresses and that the cabin steward would call me soon. He arrived at my door with 2 rolls of ancient, used 1" thick foam to place under all the bedding and over the hopeless mattress. There was no box spring of any kind - the "thing" laid on a solid surface and was hard as a rock. My own bed at home is a 16" pillowtop wondrously supportive and cushy thing which I now appreciate even more! There was no bookstore or even a library on board anywhere. There was no movie theatre. The tv in my cabin (and in several other cabins in various classes that I saw) were ancient things with grainy, marginal pictures. The food - which I had been told would be plentiful and fabulous - was neither. The main area for all the little 'buffet' set ups was overcrowded, poorly stocked and closed at odd hours. The "supper club" which cost an extra $30 flat fee (no beverages included in this except water, coffee and tea, which was standard on the entire voyage) was also not exceptional. Everywhere we turned there were "photo opportunities" by rather pushy folks with cameras who insisted on taking one's photo with all manner of ridiculous heavily costumed people, at dinner, in Glacier Bay, getting on and off the ship.... as if that weren't bad enough, they then posted these photos in a special gallery where you could then search out your photos and were then asked to pay for them. There were extraordinary marketing opportunities at every turn for one to spend, spend, spend. Everything from a simple soft drink, to diamonds in one of two gift shops. I was more than a little surprised there were not more shops. There were even brochures left every night on one's bed with the next day's newsletter. This wasn't so much a cruise as a great marketing opportunity to a truly captive audience. The casino wreaked of smokers at both ends, with smoke wafting out into the seating and lounging areas at both sides of it, making for a useless amount of space if one were either allergic or put off by that much smoke. Sailing at night was also a big disappointment, since we were sailing up the Inland Passage from Vancouver BC. Having only 6-8 hours in a port was also disappointing, since it took nearly an hour to get off the boat and they required we all be back on board a minimum of 30 minutes prior to leaving a port. That made any shore excursions and exploration a very harried thing. I'm wondering why they don't spend at least two days in a port....?! You can't see anything or get to know a place at all in that short a time. The best thing about it was not having to pack and unpack while traveling. I think that was probably the only good thing about my particular view of cruising. It was nice to have a naturalist on board to give very basic sort of 'kindergarten' presentations about whales and glaciers and such. Our particular naturalist was quite fond of making highly exaggerated statements about the number and playfulness of a single animal sighting anywhere in the vicinity of the ship. I guess she felt it was her job to thrill everyone with the possibility of actually seeing a dolphin or a whale....?! Altogether, getting to see even the little bit of Alaska I did get to see, it was utterly wonder to do that!! I will go again, but certainly not ever again on a 'CruiseShip'. yuck. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This was our second cruise to Alaska. Our first on Carnival. Without question, Alaska is still just a beautiful. The ports of call are wonderful. The shore excursions, especially those from Allen Marine Tours, are great. We were ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska. Our first on Carnival. Without question, Alaska is still just a beautiful. The ports of call are wonderful. The shore excursions, especially those from Allen Marine Tours, are great. We were disappointed in our time on the Carnival Spirit. Since we enjoy looking at the beautiful scenery in Alaska we expected a ship sailing there to have a lounge with great vistas off of the front of the ship. The only nice place to look out over the front of the ship is the space used by the workout area. Certainly not a relaxing place to enjoy the scenery. The only nice place to look out over the back of the ship is the outdoor smoking area. Once again, not enjoyable for a non-smoker. This situation caused those cruising on the ship to congregate, chat, play cards, etc. in the seating areas of the buffet dining area which did have a lot of windows along the side of the ship. With so many cruisers using the dining tables to relax, it was often difficult to find a free table to use for dining. Several times, we walked around for so long looking for a table that our food was cold. We often ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. The menu items rarely varied. The same items were at the same place day after day. Every time that we visited the buffet dining area, employees were chatting, laughing and looking out of the windows and not keeping tables clean and restocked with napkins and silverware. One morning when tables were scarce, we found a dirty table and asked an employee to please clean it. The gentleman removed the dirty dishes and then placed clean napkins and silver without ever wiping the crumbs and smears from the previous diners. We have not seen this on our many previous cruises on three other cruise lines. The soft serve ice cream and yogurt were great, but the only time that the topping bar was open was from 3:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon. We did not understand why it was only open so late and close to our early dinner hour. The formal dining room service was slower and less personal than the other cruise lines that we have traveled. The food was mediocre. Service from the bar was interesting. There were thirteen members of our extended family on the Spirit. One evening, two different groups ordered bottles of wine to share. One bottle arrived immediately while the other did not arrive for another twenty minutes. Each time we ordered beer, it was served in a bottle with no glass. We have never been expected to swig beer from a bottle in a formal dining room and always had to wait for quite some time to get a glass. The one bright spot in the service from the Spirit staff was our cabin steward. He was readily available and always very willing to assist. We did have problems with our cabin on two separate occasions. Early in the cruise, the air conditioner in our cabin stopped working. The maintenance staff fixed the problem in just a couple of hours. However, the fix caused the air conditioning unit to flood part of the carpeting in our cabin. We soon had a horrible, musty smell from the wet carpet. Once again, our cabin steward was very attentive and immediately sprayed with an odor deterrent and place a huge fan in the room. Over a day or so, the smell was gone, but the situation was still an inconvenience for us. Later in the cruise, the toilets in our two cabins and the cabin of other family members two doors down quit working. We all called maintenance and were told that they were aware of the problem and were working on it. It would have been nice if the Spirit staff had warned cruisers of the problem when they knew of it. At least, we could have made arrangements not to use our cabins until the problem was fixed. All of that being said, we did enjoy Alaska and would certainly recommend a visit there. We did the post cruise tour to Denali National Park on the domed rail cars. That portion of the tour was handled by Carnival's sister company, Holland-America. It was incredibly well organized and an enjoyable experience, although I would recommend upgrading the Denali Park tour from the four hour to the eight hour journey into the park. We did see a bit of wild life, but those who upgraded their tour saw incredible things. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We took the northbound inside passage cruise with our two sons ages 12 & 16 on the Carnival Spirit in August 2008. This was our fourth cruise with Carnival. Flew WestJet from Toronto to Vancouver. We love this airline for service ... Read More
We took the northbound inside passage cruise with our two sons ages 12 & 16 on the Carnival Spirit in August 2008. This was our fourth cruise with Carnival. Flew WestJet from Toronto to Vancouver. We love this airline for service with a sense of humor, but as they no longer serve in-flight meals, we recommend taking your own snacks on the flight. A taxi from the airport to the cruise terminal cost us about $32. Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm, boarding was very quick, with only a short wait in line. Cabins: were clean with TV, hairdryer and locked minibar. Our room steward unlocked the minibar upon request. Room service on this cruise was very unobtrusive. In fact, we rarely saw our steward, but the cabin was always freshly made up, and he appeared within moments on the two occasions when we called for service (one call to unlock the fridge, and one call to get extra pillows) Our cabins had 'obstructed view' - which our travel agent had assured us would not be more than a couple of feet obstruction at floor level. We were very disappointed, as the life boats immediately outside our room came up to the hand rail height. Dining: 6pm seating in the Empire Dining Room with excellent service provided by the waiters. Salmon and steak were on the menu every day, along with a variety of other delicious entrees. We ate in the dining room every evening, a meal which was supplemented by our teenage sons by visits to the pizza place and ice cream machines - open 24 hours. First day at sea we participated in some of the organized activities - bean bag toss, Scattergories, ping pong tournament and digital scavenger hunt. Lots of fun family activities that kept us entertained all day. We enjoyed a few rounds of mini put at the top of the ship, as the weather was kind but cool, and the scenery from the top deck was amazing. Ketchikan. A misty-rain morning saw us browsing the local tourist shops and visiting "Dolly's House". We had arranged a floatplane excursion through Misty Fjords flightseeing, and were to meet them at the rain gauge (visible from the cruise ship when docked) at 1pm. The flight seeing excursion was delayed due to weather, so we visited the local fish hatchery in the meantime. When we returned to pick up our trip, we were informed of another delay. In fact they would not be able to take us out on the trip we had reserved, we would only able to take a shorter trip over the fjords. As it turned out, this was the WORST excursion of our cruise. We were so delayed in take off, we didn't enjoy the flight knowing the ship requested all aboard by 4:30pm. When we returned at 4:45pm we were the last passengers back on board. Juneau. Rainy day, but we were equipped with our rain jackets and braved the weather to go ziplining. We had booked this trip online with Alpine Zipline Adventure. They were AWESOME! The rain cleared up for us as we took 7 ziplines through the Alaskan rainforest. The local guides were delightful, and our family enjoyed this trip immensely. Highly recommended. Skagway. Here we took the White Pass and Yukon Railroad trip to B.C. We booked this independently, but this is one trip you may want to book through the cruise line. We had to walk 15 minutes into town to board the train, whereas the cruise ship passengers were picked up at the dock. Prices seemed to be just the same whether reserved onboard or directly through the railway. The trip into the Yukon could be reserved through the ship, but not at the railway station, as they couldn't guarantee we'd get back to the ship in time! After our experience in Ketchikan, we decided not to risk being late again, and enjoyed a gentle train ride up to the top of the Coast Mountain range. Fabulous scenery, lots of waterfalls, an interesting narration by the onboard guide. Very enjoyable trip, without any exertion. I'd take the Yukon Day trip next time. Sitka. This is a tender port. Here we enjoyed a sunny day, and relaxed shopping in the many locally owned shops. My husband and I took an early tender (#1) and wandered around the town, before many of the shops had even opened. We returned to the ship for buffet lunch (it was Caribbean day) on the lido deck, then took an early afternoon tender to see the Russian Dancers - a group of volunteer dancers, reasonably priced at $8 per person, this was a fun excursion. In Sitka, we walked up the "fort" for a splendid 300 degree view of the town. Shops were more unique than in the other ports of call, with local arts and crafts for sale. Local chocolate is sold at the 'Chocolate Factory' on Sawmill Creek Road. Although we had no wait to board tenders getting off the ship, by mid-afternoon we had a 30 minute wait to board a tender back to the ship. Final day at sea: once again we enjoyed the activities offered onboard the ship - more bean bag toss, ping pong, and of course, lots of food! We cruised Prince William Sound and stayed at the glacier for about an hour in the early evening. The captain turned the ship first to port for 30 minutes, then to starboard for 20 minutes, so there was plenty of viewing time from both sides of the ship. Debarkation: well, this was a bit disorganized. We had made our own travel arrangements out of Whittier, but our suitcases were taken to Anchorage in error. So we, along with everyone else designated zone 28, had to wait for the truck to return from Anchorage with our suitcases. While waiting, we collected our rental car from Avis, just a short walk along the dock from the cruise ship. No problems here, just a few minutes wait while the paperwork was signed, and we were equipped with our transportation. Check out the timetable for the Anton Anderson Memorial tunnel if you're travelling by car, so you avoid long waits at the tunnel. An easy, scenic drive into Anchorage, where we enjoyed the Imaginarium on 5th Avenue. Overall: Highly recommend the Alaskan Cruise, we hope to go back again one day. Pack sweaters and jackets, maybe even gloves and a hat (there are plenty to buy in port if you forget). You can choose to take lots of wildlife excursions, but there are plenty of other options too. We saw a humpback whale, bald eagles, sea otters and sea lions right from the ship! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My wife & I flew into Vancouver on Northwest Airlines the day before the ship was due to sail. We stayed at a boutique hotel called LeSoleil. LeSoleil was approximately 3 blocks from Canada Place where the Spirit would pick us up. ... Read More
My wife & I flew into Vancouver on Northwest Airlines the day before the ship was due to sail. We stayed at a boutique hotel called LeSoleil. LeSoleil was approximately 3 blocks from Canada Place where the Spirit would pick us up. Vancouver is a wonderful city filled with restaurants & shopping. We spent the evening with a friend that we had met on our Elation repositioning cruise last May. The morning of the cruise we had the hotel call us a cab & transport us & our luggage to Canada Place. We asked everyone where VIP check in was only to be told that no one knew. This was not a good start. Eventually we were steered towards some metal folding chairs & a container of lukewarm lemonade. A representative placed a large folding screen in front of us to separate us from the other passengers. We waited for a bit, then we were collected & led off to be photographed for security & we were allowed to board Spirit. Spirit is a beautiful vessel. She may be older but she has been well cared for. We went to place our carry on luggage in our suite. I found our cabin steward & got his permission to leave the bags in the closet. We had an aft wrap on Empress Deck. We then went up to the Lido Deck to get some lunch. Our cabin steward Sergei was the best steward that we have ever had. He was punctual, meticulous & he lent me his data transfer cable so I could download pictures of our trip to our laptop. I don't remember much about the dining room experience other than that the food was mediocre. We dined two nights in the supper club & I think I would rather pay for my meals than have to go back to the dining room or the buffet for that matter. My wife spent some time playing slots in the casino but we don't care for the ship's activities & entertainment so we pretty much kept to ourselves. We did have great fun at the Art Auctions. Dave & his assistant Andy made the auctions a fun experience. Our cabin #6329 was an aft wrap. It had a large balcony & a strangely laid out suite. The bathroom was spacious. We had a small loveseat & questionable "art" on the walls. The Internet service crawled & was not a good value. I have a sleep apnea machine & had to rent an extension cord from the Purser's office to connect my machine since the nearest outlet was about 15' away. Suites are supposed to have more than one outlet. We did shore excursions through Carnival in Juneau & Skagway. The first was called Photo Safari by land & sea. It was put on by Gastineau Guiding & my wife & I had a great time going whale & seal watching & visiting Mendenhall Glacier. We learned a lot about our cameras & how to become better photographers. THe second excursion was to the Chilcat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines. We took a ferry from Skagway to Haines, then boarded a bus to the preserve. Our guides fed us lunch then outfitted us with boots & life vests. We boarded 8 person inflatable rafts equipped with a guide who rowed & set off down the river. We saw a few eagles & some spectacular scenery. At the end of the voyage we were given hot drinks & cookies! We had purchased a third shore excursion for Sitka, but received a letter from Carnival the night before saying that it had been cancelled. I had the cost refunded to my S&S card. The cruise was excellent minus the food & the debarkation. We had arranged to have a car meet us in Whittier to take us to Anchorage. But we were not allowed off of the ship till 10 minutes before our car showed up. When you fill out a debarkation form make sure you don't tell them that you have your own transportation or they will leave you till last like they did us. This is the second debarkation from a Carnival vessel that has been a mess. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
My husband and I just returned from our Alaskan cruise to celebrate my 30th Birthday. The entire experience was breathtaking and truly something you must experience for yourself. We chose the Northbound cruise because I liked that it ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from our Alaskan cruise to celebrate my 30th Birthday. The entire experience was breathtaking and truly something you must experience for yourself. We chose the Northbound cruise because I liked that it stopped at all of the ports I wanted to see, and I definitely would recommend going this way. On the southbound, you pass many of the sights in the early am, where was with northbound we passed them in the early evening. Because of this, I would also recommend choosing the late seating for dinner. More often than not we would be passing wildlife, glaciers, etc. and it would be right in the middle of the early seating for dinner. With the late seating you are also able to linger more and enjoy your meal. I also purchased Fodor's Alaska Ports of Call 2008 and highly recommend the book. They give great tips on places to visit in each port, where to shop (that is not a tourist shop), where to eat and get a drink. We booked a balcony cabin, and I agree with others reviews that it is definitely worth the money. We were often outside, sitting and watching the scenery and wildlife, and when the weather was bad, we were able to look out throughout the huge sliding glass doors and see everything as well. WHAT TO PACK I don't think it got higher than 65 F while we were cruising, so wearing layers is good. We pretty much wore jeans or pants the entire time - and always a fleece or a sweater under our raincoat. It showers on and off a lot, so I would highly recommend a rain coat as well. If you bring a camera, make sure it has a good zoom as most of the wildlife will be further away an come out small in your photos. Make sure you have nice walking shoes or hiking boots as well. There are two cruise formal nights, and although they suggest sportcoats, we didn't want to pack them, so my husband just wore a dress shirt and tie and that was appropriate. Binoculars are essential to help see some of the wildlife and scenery. You can rent them on the ship for $10/day, but we bought a nice compact pair from Target for $30, so it is definitely more economical to purchase them ahead of time. VANCOUVER We arrived in Vancouver the day before our cruise departed and stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown. Decent hotel - we got a good price on Priceline and we took a cab to the port - which worked out very well. He took us right in and dropped us off, and it cost us about $8 CAD. Which definitely beat the $16/each Carnival charges from the airport. EMBARKATION Check-in was very smooth and well organized. However, we did have to wait for a couple hours as embarkation took longer than expected. Apparently they had a NORO virus outbreak on the cruise before us and spent extra time in port sanitizing the entire ship. I personally didn't mind - especially since they did not have a single outbreak on our cruise. CABIN Our cabin was great - ample storage, though I had to double up on some of the hangers. There were three (smaller than a standard home closet)closets. I had shelves, one had a rack at the top and middle to hang clothes and the last one had just a rack at the top. There is room under the bed to store luggage, but we were able to fit ours into the one closet. There are also 3-4 smaller drawers that can accommodate shirts and undergarments. In addition to the king size bed, there was a small bench and table, as well as a nice shelf with vanity space that ran along the opposite wall. The balcony had two chairs and a small table as well. The bathroom was on the small side, but definitely sufficient. I would definitely recommend Starboard side. Almost always, the best scenery and wildlife was on Starboard side - and although you can go to either if you are on one of the decks, it is great when you are in your cabin and can look out and see everything. MEALS We had our first meal at the La Playa Grill - and I was pleasantly surprised. It was my first cruise and I was happy with the quality and selection. The service was impeccable - our head waiter Ahmad, was personable and attentive. Carnival say us with two other couples our age for dinner, and although nervous about "forced socializing" we all got along and a fantastic time eating together. The food was delicious and satisfying so we did not feel compelled to try out the Noveau Supper Club - though I heard good things about it. SPA My husband and I both booked spa services, and although a little on the pricey side, I got a very nice pedicure and he really enjoyed his massage. It was a great way to relax and pamper ourselves the first day at sea. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES My husband and I are not "show" people, so we did not partake in any of the evening entertainment (plus we were usually pretty tired), except we did see a comedian one night. He was definitely "R" rated, but funny. We went to a few of the trivia sessions - men vs. women and Trivial Pursuit (which my husband won a cute and cheesy trophy from). In general we spent a lot of time while onboard enjoying the incredible scenery. The Naturalist Michelle is amazing. I loved her talks and she was available and approachable to ask questions and made informative announcements about wildlife and scenery all during the cruise. PORTS We only booked two excursions, neither of which was through Carnival. Our dinner table mates booked quite a few and seemed pleased with all of them except for the fishing excursions as they did not catch anything. Ketchikan I really wanted to go to the fish hatchery and we walked there only to find out it was closed because it was July 4th. So instead we went to the Totem Pole Museum ($5/each). Which was pretty cool, and very informative about the history of the area. We walked around the town - visited Creek Street and the Ketchikan Museum near the harbor ($5/each) which was quite nice. Juneau We did book a whale watching excursion through Orca Enterprise, which I learned about from this site. We were lucky enough to have Captain Larry, captain our boat. Ironically enough the ship's naturalist Michelle was also on our excursion because she is close friends with some of the captains! The tour was so informative - as our guide has done extensive research and study of humpback whales so we saw quite a few and right at the end one surfaced just off our boat! Skagway In Skagway we took the White Pass Railroad up to the summit - $103/each. It is definitely worth it just for the experience. The scenery is beautiful and the railway has such a history. The town itself is pretty small, but we did walk around a little bit. Sitka We did not have any set plans for this port, so we waited to tender. We came down at 9:30 and got our number and got right off the boat. This town was one of my favorites. We went to the Raptor Center ($12/each) - which is a non-profit that takes in injured eagles, hawks, owls etc. and rehabilitates them to be placed back into the wild, or if their injuries our too severe they live at the center or are placed at educational facilities around the country. It was great to see these amazing birds up-close and they do a short talk where they bring out one of the eagles for the presentation. In addition there is a nice path that wraps around the back of the center. It is about 1.5 miles from the Harbor, and quite a few people walked. We opted for a taxi ($7 one way). We also visited St. Michaels ($2/person) which was ok. I personally preferred the Lutheran Church across the street. They were very friendly and welcoming and gave a lot of information about the church's history. We got back to the tender boats early to avoid the crowds, and we didn't have to wait at all. Prince William Sound/College Fjord I think this was one of my favorite days - we spent almost the entire day on the balcony looking at the wildlife and the glaciers. We saw Orcas, a humpback whale and her calf, a sea lion and lots of sea otters. DEBARKATION Because we made arrangements to stay in Anchorage an extra day, we were one of the last off the ship (about 10, 10:30 a.m.). We had made arrangements to rent a car through Avis in Whittier - the only car rental company in town. I thought it would be a good deal, as the dropoff fee was less than the Carnival transfer. However, the experience was MISERABLE. DO NOT RENT FROM THEM. My husband waited in line for at least an hour - not because there were tons of people but because the company 1) does not have a computer 2) does not have competent or trained employees (the man working behind the counter actually had is tween daughter cleaning out cars with a dustbuster and his five year old son running the credit cards!). It is shocking the Avis attaches their name to them, and we are filing an official complaint with their headquarters. Getting out of Whittier was tricky as well as the tunnel is only one way, so if you miss the window, you have to wait 45 minutes before it will open again. ANCHORAGE We were pretty exhausted by the time we got to Anchorage, so we didn't do too much. We drove around, visited a local brewery (Midnight Sun - definitely recommend, very small but the beer is good). We had lunch at Snow City Cafe, which was fantastic, and dinner at ORSO - an italian place which was sooo good. Be prepared to be jetlagged when you return. Alaska is 4 hours behind and it definitely takes at least a few days to recover. Overall it was a fantastic cruise - I would definitely recommend Carnival and Alaska as a great destination. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was my 5th Carnival cruise and 8th cruise overall. I recently went on a 3-day to the Bahamas and had a great time and had the itch to book another one. Alaska seemed like a good choice since it is hot this time of year in the ... Read More
This was my 5th Carnival cruise and 8th cruise overall. I recently went on a 3-day to the Bahamas and had a great time and had the itch to book another one. Alaska seemed like a good choice since it is hot this time of year in the caribbean and Alaska was more unique. We chose Carnival based on past experience as well as the itinerary. We wanted to end near Whittier (close to Anchorage) rather than one of the smaller towns that some ships dock at. The first thing we noticed is that the atrium on this ship is really nice, Titanic-like feeling. Most of the ship is also very nice and clean. We were on the 1st floor and it was nice having the dining room, casino, and other main attraction on the 2nd and 3rd floor - no need to wait for the elevators. One of the things that bothered me was that the menus from the Bahamas cruise and the Alaskan cruise were really similar. I was hoping for some diversity in the menus, but many items were identical. For the first time with Carnival, I was a bit disappointed with the food. The other issue was that the staff was not informed about a lot things. We asked questions about excursions, etc. and was given less than accurate information. The itinerary was good, but I recommend booking excursions in all of the stops. There is not much to do otherwise. Ketchikan had a lot of tour vendors right at the pier so if you don't book through the cruise it's o.k., but the other locations did not have as many. There is nothing in Skagway so if you don't book an excursion there you will be disappointed. My favorite was the dog-sledding in Juneau. Overall, we had a good time. The views are wonderful and it's a different perspective of the world. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Visiting Alaska was on our "bucket list" and a last minute situation bumped it up to the top and allowed us to go - although for too short of a time - in June 28th. Yes, it would be alot easier to wait and stay up there longer, ... Read More
Visiting Alaska was on our "bucket list" and a last minute situation bumped it up to the top and allowed us to go - although for too short of a time - in June 28th. Yes, it would be alot easier to wait and stay up there longer, but I think we were excited enough to get the 7 days on the cruise. Without a doubt, we'll definitely return! We love the cool weather and it is slightly decadent to leave Virginia (90 plus weather) and spend one week away from the heat. We flew first to Seattle, courtesy of JetBlue free flight coupons. My first mistake was booking the round trip flight. Turns out that the one way flight from Anchorage to Seattle was actually the same cost as it would have been to fly from Anchorage to Washington, DC! I'll remind myself to check stuff like that out the next time. Arriving in Seattle, we rented a one-way vehicle to drop off in Vancouver. We were happy to at least get the 24 hours beforehand in that lovely city. Our compact car was switched when they realized our destination. Turns out they had a Canadian rental on the lot and there is apparently some sort of discount the vehicle rental companies get by returning each other's car. Who were we to complain with a Chrysler 300? The 3 hour drive was very nice...no traffic at all...and going through the Canadian checkpoint was all of 2 minutes. Our overnight stay at the Marriott Pinnacle was too short, but we were absolutely thrilled with the beautiful top floor view of the harbor and the ability to watch the cruiseships coming into port that morning. It increased our excitement for what was to come later that day. The morning pre-cruise was spent with a quick trip to Granderson Island (a great breakfast with crepes), a walk around the Capilstrano Suspension Bridge, and a driving experience among the city streets that are being prepared for the 2010 Olympics. Having a cruise port in Vancouver was great. It reminded me of what it might have been in the old days where people would come and wave you off on your adventure. The Pan Pacific Hotel had a nice area for anyone to sit, enjoy the waterways and be one of those bidding cruise passengers goodbye. The cruise was filled with good and not so good happenings. As first time Penthouse cabin occupants, we had been told to expect VIP treatment, especially during the check-in process. Unfortunately (as we were told later), the VIP treatment is not offered in Vancouver. I have no idea what the story is, but looking back now, it was sort of funny to be standing there and wondering when we were going to be "different" from others :) In spite of the VIP check-in not being offered, we moved quickly....going through the custom line, checking our passports, going through the cruise check-in and even our first of many photo ops. We were on board in about 30 minutes. Upon check-in, we discovered that our seating time was not what we had originally been given. Inquiries at the boat entrance had then directed us to the Pursers area. Lining up with others (and waiting 20 minutes), we were then redirected to the dining room. Lining up with another 20 minute wait, we finally reached the Maitre de. When we mentioned wanting to change to the early seating, he suggested that we might want to rethink the idea. Turns out that late seating had given us a private table for 2. We immediately agreed this was preferable and away we went to locate our suite. It was FANTASTIC and I think I will never want to cruise again unless I have something similar. Yes, I am well aware that most time is not spent in the room but after the cruise, I'm convinced that only those that want to sit among the crowd will say that . It was actually the opposite that occurred...we found having a large room with a sofa, chair and double balcony - not to mention the nice bathroom - made us want to spend alot of time in the cabin. The funny thing is that in the end, we had not one room service, which according to our room cabin, made us slightly unusual among the Penthouse cruisers. As long as he kept refreshing the ice bucket (I love drinking ice water) were were content and didn't need any pampering. The room had one bed, one leather curved couch, two chairs, a desk area and more closet space then you could ever fill - especially with the airline rules. There was a dressing area with makeup area and a bathroom with toilet, separate bidet and a tub/shower. We were also lucky to have a double balcony. We initially thought that we might want one of the suites at the end of the boat, but this was Alaska, and we decided that the best place was mid-ship to better see the coastline and hopefully wildlife. We were on the right side of the ship, to increase our view of something along the coast as we traveled north. On our particular cruise, though, there were sightings to the left side of whales. The cruiseline thoughtfully offered a nice blanket to wrap up in when enjoying the balcony. The scenery and quietness was wonderful. Being on east coast time, had us waking early each morning. This turned out to be a blessing as we were up and ready to jump off the ship at each port in the morning hours. Many shops - especially in Ketchikan - were actually opened at 7 am for the cruiseship crowd. Day 1: After pretending that everyone at the cruise dock were our friends, we waved goodbye and enjoyed the floating scenery from our balcony. We were off and happy to do this cruise on a northbound run. It was cool to have your first destination in Alaska and Ketchikan would prove to be our favorite. We grabbed lunch upstairs in the buffet area - I enjoyed the Pasta Bar but would become frustrated at the open/closed situation I'd find throughout the rest of the cruise. I would have preferred it to be available during lunch but that only happened two times - both when we were at sea. This was also the favorite area for kids and it would get frustrating to stand in line for a slice of pizza and then have someone in front of you take all 4 slices for their kids. I understand as a parent myself, the importance of serving everyone...my gripe was actually with the cruiseline. They should anticipate pizza being popular and increase what comes out of the kitchen to alleviate the lines. Thanks to taking Dramamine (yes, even in the waters around Alaska, you need it!), we had no problems and sleep came easily and early. Day 2: We're at sea and enjoying the cruiseship. To my surprise, there is a pool that is open. They had a retractable roof and this allowed them to use it on the Alaska runs. We mostly spent the day relaxing, going to hear about the port of calls and other cruise talks. Is it just me or are others tired of the push for particular shops? I'm not the least bit inclined to purchase jewelry or things that I can find back home. Shopping for me is the opportunity to find local items or souvenirs. It's hard to follow the recommendations of those who get a discount on their own purchases (or even free items). Casino surprise...they have video keno!!!!! OMG!!!! You have no idea how happy this made me!!! This was my first cruise with Carnival and if they all have video keno, I can get pass any of the other things I disliked. I've found a faithful cruiseline :) Day 3: Ketchikan - also known as my greatest adventure. I have developed a fear of flying over the past 10 years, but I was convinced that I should get outside my comfort zone and try a seaplane. So after some careful research, we signed on with Island Air. I figured if it's a woman behind the instrument panel, it might help (Yeah, maybe I'm being prejudiced but whatever gets me through, fine). The first part of the morning was spent initially with checking out some of the shopping recommendations. That got old really fast. I was so annoyed with one guy in particular who even followed us out of a store and kept asking us to come back inside for a "deal". I was happiest in seeking out the smaller stores with local crafts. In fact, I got a chuckle at one sign that was posted "we aren't on your cruiseship's list because we refuse to pay for the privilege". What a hoot! But I digress...we got on the seaplane and I lived to tell about it. It was excellent...great pilot, great views and even a landing to climb outside the plane to watch a mother and two cub brown bears. The pilot had a tendency to be more attentive towards the men on the flight which was fine by me - I was left alone to face whatever fears I might have. Day 4: Juneau -- Personally I would have rather had more time in Ketchikan but that might also be because it was our first stop. Spent the first part of the day shopping for what I wanted to buy - local stuff. Managed to find several local cookbooks and grabbed some cheap t-shirts for our kids. I was so tired that I let my husband go on a trip to Mendenhall Glacier. He took a local excursion just off the cruiseship area for $14 - far cheaper then those offered on the boat. Day 5: Skagway -- Spent most of our time by taking the train both ways. I happily spent most of the time on the outside of the train, snapping pictures of the scenery around me. This time my husband relaxed while I took the glass blowing excursion. I loved it but half of those that went were not happy people. I know that $199 was expensive and many would expect more then a simple christmas ornament, but having checked on glass blowing experiences where I live, the price was in line with home prices. Some wanted to make more then a ball but you only had so much time. I really enjoyed the quaint tea room where they served homemade offerings from their garden with the beverage of your choice - soda, tea or wine. Day 6: Sitka. This was another favorite stop for me. Perhaps it's because there aren't that many tourist here, but it was a lovely town. We had a ball when we hooked up with a fisherman, turned tour guide, who took about 7 of us in his own boat to enjoy some possible whale sightings. Not a fancy boat, but the stories he told were amusing and it lasted long enough to see a beautiful display by one humpback, loads of sea otters floating all around us, and a rather hilarious story about an April Fool's joke with the extinct volcano, a helicopter and some old tires. Priceless! We also had the best food sample....a couple of kids earning money on the street corner with a George Foreman grill and some hot dogs. Let's hear it for young entrepreneurs! Day 7: Our last day of cruising made me happy to again be headed north. There was something about spending your last day in the middle of Prince William Sound and the crackling of ice as it detached from the College Fjords. Day 8: Ended the cruise with a rather chaotic disembarkation. Again, contrary to being VIP cruisers, we were not one of the first to get off the cruise. In fact, the experience of getting off was so bad that we ended up leaving before our ticket number anyway...waiting 2 more hours for the rest of the people that had booked the same transport company, missing the one-way traffic signal and then having little time to see anything before flying from Anchorage. But it worked out in the end with the opportunity to stop off and visit some of the wildlife that we didn't see otherwise. A note on shopping....I had wanted a special native souvenir and had read much about the Musk Ox knits. This is a special knitting that is found in Alaska. Women from various areas are selected to make scarves and other items using the hair from the Musk Ox. It is a special thing to be selected and the yarn is not plentiful. You can tell from the pattern, what part of the Alaska area, the item was made. It's definitely not cheap but it was something I knew I would enjoy. I visited many knitting/fabric stores at various ports of call and finally managed to find a headband at the wildlife preserve. It set me back $200 for a headband, but priceless compared to the jewelry "deals". Food: I'm a picky eater and I really didn't enjoy some of my experience in this area. I can't really put my finger on it, but I think that one of the surprising things was that almost the exact thing was offered on the buffet as in the dining room. If I had realized that earlier, we probably would not have dined so often in the dining room and I would have had more to choose from in the buffet. Oh well...I learned. We found out on the last dining day, that there was a hot dog/hamburger place near the pool area. My husband, the fruit lover, was sort of tired of the same fruit over and over. Desserts didn't seem as bountiful compared to what I had experienced on a Royal Caribbean. We never purchased the drink coupon....my husband figured there was no way that he would drink $50 of soft drinks and I drink water which was available whenever. I purchased one Pina Colada because I wanted the cool Carnival tail. For some weird reason, I was the person that had the problem drinks....they had to give me 4 different drinks because each time there was a defect in the container and the drink kept running out at the seams. It was funny after the 2nd one....irritating by the 4th. My gaming consisted of playing keno, keno, and more keno. They were somewhat tight compared to Las Vegas video keno machines, but I managed to finally hit 7 out of 9 for $75. My husband decided to try the poker tournament and managed to get 2nd place. He surprised me by taking the winnings, renting a tux on the ship and making reservations for the supper club. The supper club was wonderful. I know you get meals for free elsewhere on the ship, but it was a nice memory of our extravagant trip. What surprised me though, was the lack of dressing nice by many of those in the room. Maybe they're wanting to maximize the number of people, but I think it's really the one place that should have been kept to a dress code. I hate to dress up like many myself, but I also think there is a time and place for things. The supper club, to me, should have been afforded the following of the suggested dress code - and enforced. Jeans and a t-shirt (not even a nice one at that) should have been declined. We enjoy the various courses, including a couple of treats that were added as a surprise to the evening's menu. The steaks were wonderful - like dining at Ruths Chris. Photography: I thought they were pretty laid back. They were there and would ask if you wanted a photo, but I never felt like they were bugging me too much. Wait Persons: I found some in the buffet area to be rather rude, but otherwise they were great. Naturalist: The naturalist on board was wonderful. She had done research in that area in the past and was very familiar with things. Loved the slide show but there was a little more "environmental activism" then I needed to hear. Negatives: 1. Having shrimp pasta on the menu one night, asking if we could have it without shrimp and being told no. 2. Not putting out enough pizza at a time to allow for families needing the entire pan (4 slices) while others want to get some also. 3. The waitstaff in the buffet area who were constantly cleaning even when you were still trying to eat off the plate at your table. 4. The guys who kept pushing stores that didn't serve those who wished to find local items. 5. The lack of VIP services that were supposed to exist. Not that we need to be different, but when you get information that you should look for certain things, you sort of expect to see it. This included priority boarding and embarkation, priority luggage deliver (never happened). Positives: 1. The room was wonderful and something to strive for in future cruises. 2. Video keno in the casino...what a wonderful surprise! 3. Our server who saved the bread pudding dessert from the night we went to the supper club and gave it to me the next night. Bless him! 4. Housekeeping deserves most of the tips in my opinion. They worked 12 hours and still would make an attempt to help with anything after those hours. 5. The ease in which moving on and off the ship was done after the first day in port. Once everyone got used to what to do, it went alot faster! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Carnival Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.5 N/A
Dining 4.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.6
Public Rooms 3.5 4.2
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.3
Value for Money 4.5 N/A

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