Carnival Spirit - Soon to the leave the Mexico Riviera Route
Carnival Spirit Moving to Australia
The California cruise industry just received more bad news. One of the most popular west coast ships ever, Carnival Spirit, will be moving to Australia permanently to provide year-round cruises out of Sydney starting in early 2012.
Carnival Spirit was the first of the "Vista-class" ships to be introduced into the U.S.-based cruise fleet. Vista is a specific ship design first created by parent company Carnival Corp. and subsequently put unto ships belonging to a number of different cruise lines under the Carnival Corp. umbrella.
The first Vista-class ship created was CostaAtlantica, introduced in Venice, Italy, as early as 1999. Then came Carnival Spirit, the first of four Spirit-class ships that Carnival would build, the following ones being; Carnival Miracle, Carnival Pride and Carnival Legend.
The beauty of the Spirit design is that it contains all the amenities of a much larger ships - beautiful modern lines, great crowd flow through two decks of inter-connected public rooms, a soaring atrium, a large and impressive theater as well as tiny catwalks around the theater bottom deck right up to the very front of the stage.
Over the years, the Vista design was also the model for the newest Costa Deliziosa and additional Costa ships. It was also the basis for the two beautiful Cunard Queens; Cunard Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.
Holland America's Eurodam and the new HAL Nieuw Amsterdam are also both impressive reinterpretations of the classic Vista-class design.
The key to the Vista design is putting all of the public rooms on the lowest public decks possible. This means the upper decks, beginning with deck five, can be filled with balcony cabins all the way to the top of the ship - every stateroom deck is filled with balcony cabins from stem to stern.
Carnival Spirit has been playing a duel role in the last five years; sailing steadily out of San Diego to Mexico every winter, but not offering the typical and boring seven-day itinerary to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, it has also been going into the Sea of Cortes to visit La Paz, the port from which I am currently writing this piece.
This stop is known for an abundance of live sea lions and often an abundance of dolphin and whale sightings. This afternoon I will be going to Los Islotes; a group of small islands known for exotic desert wildlife and dolphins called Paradise cove - a well-protected swimming spot for families and kayakers.
Carnival Spirit also used to make regular cruises all the way down to Acapulco from San Diego, a trip that requires eight-days. Unfortunately, the recent violence in Acapulco has reduced the popularity of that port, which is too bad as Acapulco has one of the best beaches in Mexico, especially alongside the infamous Paradise Hotel where Howard Hughes lived until the day he died.
Carnival Spirit was also the sole cruise ship that Carnival would send to Alaska every summer, where it filled a niche for value-priced family cruising in the great white north. Not only did it offer the best rates in Alaska for balcony cabins all season long, but it was also the best ship to take children upon since it had the great Carnival Club kid's program onboard.
The fantastic rates Carnival Spirit always offered made it a ship apart from the pack, in both the Mexico and the Alaska markets, and I truly hope Carnival finds a replacement for her soon.
Unfortunately, the current strength of the Aussie dollar is making Australia a more popular destination for cruise ships than ever before. And for as long as that lasts, it is doubtful that Carnival Spirit will be hearing the mariachi horns of La Paz, Mexico, that I can hear blaring right outside my stateroom right now.
Until 2012 you can still take Carnival Spirit cruises to Mexico with 7-day cruises from $579, 8-day cruises from $449 and nine-day cruises from $539. The ships have 1062 staterooms, 12 decks, are 88,500-tons and 960 feet long and have a 2124 passenger capacity with 930 crew.
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