My son (age 13) and I took the southbound Inside Passage tour on the Carnival Spirit, which traveled from Seward to Vancouver with stops at Valdez, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We only had one sunny day; all the other days were cloudy with light rain. This really didn't interfere with the trip.
We booked our flight through Carnival, so all transfers were included. The first day was an extremely long travel day from Oklahoma City to Anchorage, with a 3-hour layover in Seattle. Upon arriving in Anchorage, we took a 3-hour bus ride to Seward. by the time we finally arrived, got our luggage, and unpacked we had been awake for 22 hours. If I had it to do over again, I would travel a day early and spend the night in either Seattle or Anchorage. Our return trip started with a 3-hour bus ride from Vancouver to Seattle, then the flight home. We had no problem with customs, but we were told that in two weeks no one would be allowed back into the states without a birth certificate or a passport. The bus arrived in plenty of time tomake our flight (2 hours) and we did not have to touch our luggage until we arrived at the Seattle airport.
We booked a category 8A Guarantee, which meant we would get at least that cabin and may be upgraded. We received a Category 8F cabin, so that worked out well. We finalized our travel plans about 4 months in advance - I don't know if that helped determine how much of an upgrade we received or not. We did not get our final cabin assignment until we arrived at the ship (cabin 7275). The cabin was well-laid out and had plenty of storage. We had to put our suitcases under the beds, but even our largest one fit easily. The cabin has a safe, which is free, a refrigerator, a hair dryer, shampoo (no conditioner), and many sample packets of toiletries, razors, etc. It had a couch with a table that always seemed to be in the way and a balcony with two chairs and a small table. An outside view is well worth the price for an Alaskan cruise since there are frequently wildlife sightings and beautiful scenery and many hours of daylight. There was no iron in the cabin, but there are several laundry facilities on board that have irons and ironing boards.
Valdez only had four excursions to offer. We chose the bus tour to Thompson Pass and Worthington Glacier ($39.00 a person). The scenery was beautiful and we got to see wonderful waterfalls. We also got to tour the "town" of Valdez and we happened to see about 8 bald eagles circling and resting in trees. Other tours available included a raft trip, kayaking, and a helicopter glacier trip.
Juneau had over two dozen excursions to choose from. We chose the Mendenhall Glacier and Wildlife Quest, where we were guaranteed to see whales or we got a $100 refund per person. We saw about a dozen whales "cooperatively feeding", so it was well worth the cost ($125 a person). We also took the historic gold mining and panning adventure ($39.00 a person). The guide had lived in Alaska over 40 years and we actually panned for gold in a river that was 36 degrees cold.
In Skagway we went on a Liarsville Salmon Bake and Gold Rush Trail Camp tour ($49.00 a person). I expected this tour to be the biggest dud, but it turned out to be excellent food and highly entertaining. Skagway had about 26 excursions to choose from.
In Ketchikan we took the Backcountry Jet Boat Adventure ($99.00 a person). It, too, was worth the price. Ketchikan has about 20 excursions to choose from.
All shore excursions in Alaska are expensive, especially if they involve boats, airplanes, or helicopters. Bears were just coming out of hibernation so no bear-watching excursions were available.I was disappointed that Carnival did not provide any information on excursion prices prior to being on the ship. In order to research prices I had to go to other cruise line web sites. NCL and Princess both provided prices on the internet and Princess allows customers to book excursions on the internet prior to traveling, which would have been nice.
The food was wonderful in the dining room and we had a wonderful table with a view out the back of the boat. We requested the early seating, but received the late seating. I did not try to get it changed. The early seating was completely full, but the late seating had many empty or partially filled tables. I had read that the Nouveau Supper Club on the ship was wonderful and well worth the $25.00 per person surcharge. While I found it very good and have no complaints, I don't think it was worth the additional cost compared to the service and food we received in the dining room. It's something I won't do again. The food on the Lido deck was average and was nothing to brag about. It was convenient to be able to grab a bite any time. The staff seemed slow to clear tables during busy periods on the Lido deck. That was my only complaint for the entire trip. Everything else with the ship was wonderful.
My son hung out in the arcade and enjoyed most of the games. There was a good variety. The ship has many wonderful places to sit and enjoy the scenery. I always saw people sitting, relaxing, and taking in the view. The drinks are small and expensive. Soft drinks are outrageous ($1.50 for a 12-iounce can, plus the 15% gratuity and $2.50 for a 20-ounce bottle). I bought my son a soda card for $20.00 so he could have unlimited soft drinks. For adults, the card is $30 and I didn't think that was much of a bargain. The shows were good and we skipped from show to show to try to take in a little of everything. There was a variety of musical entertainment and I particularly enjoyed the Derek Hines Quartet - Derek had a wonderful voice. The photo gallery was always packed with pictures; there are photographers everywhere but they aren't pushy. If you want a good portrait, I recommend you get it on the first formal night. There was no waiting. by the second formal night, people were lined up everywhere for pictures. The casino had lots of slots ranging from a penny to $5.00. There were plenty of blackjack tables. People seemed to be winning slot jackpots regularly throughout the trip. We never took advantage of the spa or the gym - next trip. . . The pools and hot tubs were never crowded and there were plenty of deck chairs. Of course the high temperature was about 55 degrees. There were plenty of "activities" during the cruise, but with only two full days at sea, we didn't try to hit many of them. They showed a different movie in the room every day so if you wanted to take a break in the afternoon you could always catch a movie in your room and call room service.
All our waiters and our cabin steward were excellent. All the staff I dealt with was very courteous and helpful. We had a mailbox outside our cabin and we received our shore excursion tickets, the Carnival Capers newsletter, luggage tags for the departure, customs forms, and our bill that way - no need to wait in line to pick up anything. On board the ship you use a "sail and sign" card, which is also your room key to purchase everything. You either put down cash at the beginning of the trip or turn in your credit card number. About half way through the cruise they give you an interim account statement so you can check to make sure it's accurate. This saves time at the end of the cruise, since it includes most of your excursion purchases and your gratuities. All in all, I thought everything was very well planned. I did not arrive at the ship during a high-peak period, so I don't know how that went for most people. For us, boarding was about a 15-minutes process. I heard a lady behind me complaining because she was having to wait and she said she was going to "get that man's name". I saw no reason to be upset. She must have had even a longer travel day than me.
I would recommend this trip to anyone as a wonderful way to see Alaska. I would recommend taking advantage of the shore excursions, even though they can be expensive. They give you the opportunity to see so much more.
OUR SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE THROUGH THE PANAMA CANAL This was truly a trip worth remembering, from beginning to end. We left on Thursday morning, April 4th, on a flight from Tampa to Miami, where Carnival Cruise Line's newest "fun ship", the Spirit, awaited our arrival. This ship is the first in a new series of 88,500-ton vessels and features Our stateroom was the size of a mini-suite, with a balcony, on which we spent a considerable amount of time relaxing as we sailed first, on the Atlantic Ocean, then through the historic Panama Canal, known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World", and then continued our seventeen-day cruise on the Pacific Ocean toward our final port of call, which was San Diego, California, seventeen days later.
When at sea, I spent most mornings working out in the ship's two-level gymnasium and then luxuriating in the nearby Whirlpool hot tub, one of three located in the ship's huge recreation area. The afternoon hours found us listening to beautiful music played by a lovely young female pianist known as Maya or to the Arco Trio, two young women and a young man from Poland,who entertained us while playing a violin, a cello and a piano, respectively. These very talented performers were followed, one deck below, by "Tea Time", during which large varieties of tea and delicious snacks were served. In less than two hours following this, the Main Sitting of dinner began in the Empire Dining Room, where we were seated with four other members of the 24-member group with which we were traveling, as arranged by our travel agent. We were seated with these same two couples at both lunch and dinner, although on some of these days, we chose the option of having lunch buffet-style on the "Lido Deck" in the "La Playa Grill", located a few decks above this dining room.
Each and every evening, following dinner, was spent by us in the Pharaoh's Palace, a Broadway-style two-storied theatre, where we were entertained quite lavishly by a variety of performances, featuring professional singers, dancers, comedians, a juggler, a ventriloquist and even including big-name stars like John Davidson and Duke Daniels, international recording artist from the world-famous singing group, the "Platters". Following this, there was dancing to the music of a five-piece band until we felt tired enough to return to our stateroom for a good night's sleep.
The main attraction of this wonderful cruise, of course, was the numerous ports of calls which we visited throughout our journey, beginning with Cartagena, Colombia, where we took an approximately four-hour bus tour, which upon leaving the old city, took us through the residential area of Manga, with its marvelous "Republican" architecture. Following this, we visited the Monastery of La Popa with a breathtaking view of the entire city. Sufficient time was also allowed for shopping during our tour, including a stop at the Pierino Gallo shopping center, famous for the world renowned Colombian Emeralds, as well as handcrafts and leather goods. Besides this, during all of our stops in Cartagena we were deluged by numerous street vendors who approached us from every angle, desperate to sell us their wares of all different kinds. This was very annoying, but we finally relented and purchased a beautiful pink lace tablecloth.
The following day was when we spent several hours crossing the Panama Canal, which is a lock-type canal that unites the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean at one of the narrowest points of the Isthmus of Panama and the American continent. The Canal's three sets of locks, with two lanes each, serve as water lifts, elevating ships 26 meters above sea level, to Gatun Lake, to allow vessels to cross the Continental Divide, and then lower them back to sea level on the other side of the Isthmus.
The following day of our cruise was spent at sea, relaxing or enjoying the various shipboard activities and recreational facilities. Early the next morning we docked at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where we took the picturesque Sarchi Tour for approximately 5 1/2 hours. Located about forty miles from the port of Caldera, this town is the home of Costa Rica's symbol of a simple but colorful lifestyle. During our tour, shopping time was scheduled, with a variety of woodcrafts, leather goods and souvenirs of all kinds to please every taste.
Then, after enjoying two more relaxing days at sea, our ship docked early in the morning at Acapulco, Mexico, where we took a five-hour tour of this fascinating Mexican city and where a scenic highway offered a striking panoramic view of beaches and mountains among which sat the homes of the rich and famous. Our tour also included a visit to the Mayan Princess Hotel, one of the most exclusive resorts in the world, and, of course, the not-to-be-missed thrilling Cliff Divers as they plunged into the turbulent waters of "La Quebrada".
Following this, after another most-welcomed and enjoyable day at sea, we found ourselves docked at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where we joined a group of fellow tourists for approximately three hours of what was called the Mismaloya City Tour, which took us on a scenic journey through one of Mexico's premier vacation destinations on our way to this interesting city. The quaint town of Puerto Vallarta and its majestic cobblestone streets welcomed us as we passed by the beautiful resort hotels, shopping areas and historic sites, such as cathedrals, government buildings and theatres. We then passed over the river Quale, where we could see Gringo Gulch, where the famous homes of Elizabeth Taylor and the late Richard Burton are located, separated by a bridge between the two homes. After this, we continued south past the Conchas residential area and the Camino Real Hotel and then enjoyed the sights and scenery of the area as we entered the Playa Sol Condos before arriving at Mismaloya, the setting for the movie, "Night of the Iguana". Once again, stops were made for shopping at stores that were recommended by the cruise line.
Day 13 of our delightful cruise found us in Mazatlan, Mexico, located twenty miles below the Tropic of Cancer and on a peninsula surrounded by cliffs and beaches. Mazatlan's name came from the Pre-Colombian Indians and means "Place of the Deer". The economy relies heavily on fishing, both sport and commercial. The downtown area is 18th and 19th century. Mazatlan is known as "The Fish Trap" - marlin run up to 750 pounds! While there, we took the City & Shopping Tour, which took us through some of the fine residential districts and the heart of the downtown section along Olas Atlas. During this tour we saw the El Cid Country Club and the deluxe hotels on Gaviotas (seagull) Beach. Also during our tour we had plenty of time for shopping at the Carnival Cruise Lines' recommended stores, which featured excellent prices and great bargains and took us to the fantastic Aztec Indian Papantla Show, as featured in the 1986 World's Fair and during which we saw the exciting daredevil Papantla flyers, who ascended a 75-foot pole and on cords, descended spinning and spiraling to the ground.
After another great day at sea, we dropped anchor at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, located at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. It is a charming combination of old and new Mexico. Cabo San Lucas' claim to fame is not only the distinctive flora and fauna, found only in this area, but also, the beautiful and majestic "Los Arcos", or the arches. People come from all over the world to view these incredible monoliths that rise as sentinels from the ocean floor. While in Cabo San Lucas, we took the approximately 3 1/2-hour "Coastal Highlight" tour, during which we saw some breathtaking seascapes and enjoyed a visit to a local Glass Blowing Factory, which presented us with an opportunity to observe the talents of native craftsmen and also purchase examples of the blown glassware produced there. We also made a visit to "Da Georgio's", one of the cape's classic restaurants, where we had time to explore the grounds and marvel at the coastal vistas from the nearby bluffs. We then made a stop at the "Plaza del Sol Shopping Mall", where we were given an hour to browse through the elegant shops and boutiques, and before returning to the ship, we were also given the opportunity to shop at the dockside flea market.
We arrived home from this wonderful cruise vacation on Monday morning, April 22nd, full of happy memories of all the pleasant experiences we had, as well as all the new and lasting friendships we made.
I sailed the Carnival Spirit on March 27 to April 4, 2002 for the 8 day Exotic Southern Caribbean itinerary with my husband. We are both in our late thirties and this was our first cruise. The ship was due to transition after this trip and I wanted to do these ports, despite my concerns that we were a couple traveling over Easter weekend without our kids and we would be the minority among a ship full of families with children. I wasn't quite prepared for just how many children of all ages would be underfoot. We made the best of it and didn't let anything stand in the way of our good time.
We drove to the Port of Miami and the drive couldn't have been easier. We arrived at around 11:30am and there were plenty of porters waiting to help unload the car and take our luggage. My husband parked the car while I waited in front of the terminal for about 10 minutes for him to return. We took our carry on bags and headed into the terminal building. Checking in was a breeze. Within 15 minutes wewere in line waiting for our Sign and Sail cards. There was a bit of a wait before we were allowed to board the ship as there appeared to be a couple of wedding parties that were getting priority boarding. It wasn't too long before we were on line waiting to get the security picture for the Sign and Sail card, then the embarkation photo. Finally we stepped on board.
My first impression of this ship was positive. I thought the ship was beautiful. I didn't find the artwork or decorative style gaudy, it's just a bit offbeat, which was fine with me. Everywhere I looked was something different to see. It all seemed to blend together to make an upbeat cheerful and fun atmosphere. I especially liked the art hanging in the stairwells. The lobby was beautiful and lent a relaxing air of sophistication amid the colorful sometimes frenetic design. It was a great meeting place and an area to relax and have a drink while listening to the acoustic guitar music being played live behind the bar.
We had a category 8I cabin with an extended balcony on the port side forward. Actually, where our cabin was would be just the beginning of a mid-ship location. We were in cabin 8180 on the Panorama deck, beneath the Lido deck. There was virtually no noise from above. I did hear the occasional sound of a chair being moved, but only when I was out on the balcony and it wasn't an intrusive noise at all. Our cabin was outstanding. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. There was space beneath the two nightstands, as well as two drawers under the couch. The decor was pleasant and soothing, done in peach tones with complimenting wood accents. The large lighted mirror above the desk area was the perfect place to sit and apply make-up and do my hair. The design of the room made it feel spacious and very comfortable. The balcony space was more than adequate with two chairs and a small table. We spent a lot of time enjoying the balcony, listening to the sound of the ocean rushing by and looking at the island coastlines at night, their lights like strings of pearls in the distance. The bathroom was not only attractive; it was well designed and spacious. Done in a soothing aqua green color it's counter space was roomy and the mirror had glass shelves on either side, which made organizing and storing our things simple. The shower was not huge but spacious enough with great water temperature control and terrific water pressure. The clothesline strung across the shower was perfect for wet bathing suits and other damp items needing to be dried. Needless to say, I give the cabin high marks.
Staff and Service
Much to our surprise it took less than two hours for our luggage to arrive at our room. by the time we had done some exploring, grabbed a bite to eat and relaxed a bit with a drink, it was time to grab our life jackets and head to the muster drill. We were already unpacked before the muster drill, as we had returned to the room briefly after lunch. Our cabin steward was on the ball despite the huge number of rooms occupied by children and teens. He was quick to make our twin beds into one king bed as soon as the linens were available and we only had to sleep the first night with the beds made up separately. We rarely saw him, but every time we left the room and would return it had been cleaned up. We had cute towel animals every night, the bed turned down, lots of pillows stacked up with the obligatory chocolate mint on top.
We had late seating dinner and our wait staff was excellent. The food was better than I expected and I wasn't disappointed by anything I ate in the Empire Dining Room for dinner. I especially thought the lobster tail and filet mignon was outstanding and wondered how they can prepare over one thousand meals twice a night and keep everyone pleased. I honestly was expecting mediocre large crowd catering caliber meals, but the food was actually very good. There was always a vegetarian option, pasta and interestingly delicious appetizers. The Maitre'D, Damir was entertaining to a degree. His signature "Hellloooo" grew a bit old as the week wore on. I'm sure he worked extremely hard to orchestrate the two full seatings each night, however it was our head and assistant waiters that made our dining experiences personal and pleasurable. by the second night they knew what we drank with and after dinner, never missing a beat and always having time to stop and chat. Our first tablemates had been separated from their daughters and they were replaced with a mother and her two young teens. It didn't make for great conversation as the young boy was shy and we could barely get him to grunt, let alone speak. With so many young children aboard we were happy to sit with this family, exchanging stories about our day and our experiences at ports.
The food on the Lido deck at the buffet style stations was hit or miss. We ate lunch at the La Playa Grill on the Lido deck almost daily and while the NY Deli sandwiches were very good, other selections were less than average. The pizza was decent and available 24 hours a day as well as Caesar Salad and the self-serve soft ice cream. With so many kids on this ship I'm surprised I only saw the ice cream station out of service once or twice and they always managed to have at least one machine going.
The Cruise Director, Devin Flemming was personable and seemed experienced. He had a good sense of humor and seemed to really love his job. Although, the only time I saw him was on the daily Video Diary when they ran his presentations, and at the debarkation talk, he seemed very passionate about his job. The Assistant Cruise Directors seemed young and maybe inexperienced; "Dana Banana" in particular seemed to have a forced demeanor and a false high-pitched laugh that made her seem almost uncomfortable sometimes. It was impossible to get anywhere near the pool where they ran the daily games and contests, so again, I watched them on the Video Diary.
Nouveau Supper Club
This alternative restaurant for an extra cost of $25.00 per person was well worth the experience. The service was impeccable and the food presentation was delightful. I honestly can say though, the quality of the food wasn't that much above the Empire Dining Room, the major difference being the special presentation. The wait staff was attentive and the entire experience made us feel pampered and special. It was well worth the extra cost and I highly recommend the experience. The band in this restaurant was the best aboard the ship. They created a romantic environment with their excellent cover tunes, and dining and dancing that night was great because the room was almost empty, it was quiet and there were no children there.
I found the entertainment lacking. I thought the bands were mediocre at best. Emily in the Shanghai Piano Bar was awful. The one night we stepped in to have a drink and a listen it was almost painful. The band Zest in Club Cool was almost as bad. They sang to digital canned music with a guitar and bass adding the human touch. Their voices were bland and they had no soul. Dancing to this band was impossible because the digitized drum machine that served as their rhythm was monotonous and boring. The Dancin' Disco was supposed to be closed to children under 16 years old after 11:30pm. Fat chance. The one night we braved it the place was packed with kids of all ages and at 3:15am when we finally gave up it was still going strong. Security had their hands full. There were underage drinkers all over the place so their concern was trying to control the obviously intoxicated kids instead of enforcing the age restriction. We questioned a security guard one night just out of curiosity and we were told basically just that. They were trying to curb the underage drinking and not worried about denying entry to the under sixteen crowd. The disco was an interesting two story neon and glitter filled bar centered by a winding staircase, with a DJ playing MP3 files from a computer. The video wall was not turned on the night we were there. I imagine this would have been one of my favorite places to go at night had it not been packed with kids. We saw both late night comedy shows and enjoyed them both, especially when they verbally abused the parents holding their crying toddlers in their arms at a midnight R rated show. As for the other shows, we were tired of the crowds and being told that "this row is saved", so we skipped them.
Our first stop in St. Martin was my favorite. I thought the friendly people, upbeat aura and flavor of the Dutch side of this island was perfect. We shopped for jewelry on Front Street, explored some side streets looking for bargains and then walked to the beach. We had enough time to lounge in comfort on the beautiful beach with the ship in sight, have a drink and swim before it was time to head back.
Our next port was Barbados on Easter Sunday. Everything was closed and some of the shore excursions cancelled. We opted for the Jolly Roger Party Cruise. It was an old wooden pirate ship loaded with rum punch and fun music. There was swimming and diving off the side of the boat into the warm waters and singing and dancing as the rum punch was flowing. We were in Barbados until 10:00pm that night. I wish I could have seen more of this beautiful island. Martinique was our last port on Monday. We were only there from 7:00am and expected to be back on board by 1:30pm. We had enough time to take a water taxi to the beach, then back to Fort De France to explore the open air market and then a taxi back to the ship. I'm sure this island has a lot more to offer than we were able to experience. It was also a Holiday that day and most attractions were closed.
Days At Sea
Trying to find a deck chair by one of the pools was a challenge. I stayed on the Fantail Deck on the back of the boat as this was supposed to be where the adult hot tub was located, and to avoid the chaos at the mid ship pool areas where the games were held and the Calypso Band, Rhythm Krazy performed. This band was mediocre at best, but sounded from the distance to provide a lively fun party atmosphere. People obviously ignore the Carnival request to not save deck chairs and get up at the crack of dawn to do so. I would eventually find a chair to relax in. I wish the parents of the youngsters aboard had been more considerate of others as their children were acting out, running around, splashing people by throwing cups of water at them, screaming, well, you get the picture. Security would come out now and then to calm things down, empty the hot tub of children only to walk away and as soon as they were out of sight the parents would laugh and encourage the kids to go back to whatever it was they were doing in the first place. People were obviously annoyed, but I tried to take it in stride, remembering I was on vacation and there to have a good time. The large water slide on the top deck was in operation every day. It looked like a lot of fun and was certainly getting used by people of all ages.
We set our luggage out the last night on board and it was quickly whisked away. The next morning we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to the main lobby area to wait to be allowed to get off the ship. This process was amazingly smooth. In no time we were off the ship and found our luggage almost immediately. There was a porter waiting to load our bags onto his dolly. We cleared customs quickly even though we were stopped. The porter walked us to our car, helped load our luggage and we were sadly on our way.
We had a wonderful vacation and we can't wait to cruise again. I won't hold Carnival totally responsible for the negative experiences with the hordes of children aboard. It was our choice to vacation during this week. I would definitely recommend this ship. It was beautiful, clean and new looking with no signs of visible wear and tear anywhere. The food was abundant and good. The staff was friendly and helpful. The itinerary was one I would like to do again. There is nothing quite like a vivid, brilliant Caribbean sunset off your balcony or a bright full moon streaking the sea silver while the warm wind blows over you as you walk the outer decks at night. The motion of the ship was more noticeable in certain areas, the dining room in particular. It wasn't bothersome at all. The vibration I have read about that people feel on this ship wasn't anything that was annoying at all. We had extremely calm seas and clear skies the entire trip, we were very fortunate. We even saw two whales, a small pod of dolphins and countless flying fish one afternoon. It was a real treat! The gentle rocking at night, to me, was like sleeping in a giant cradle. I've never slept so well in my entire life. My new mantra is, "Take me on another cruise right now!"
If anyone would like more information or you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Message board name, deja)
Well there is a god.......we thought that we had turned into four old curmudgeons.........I agree with the reviews posted. We were all on the same deck, we were closer to the bow though, and Ican vouch for the difference in noise from above......BOY CAN WE EVER ! and of course all the darlin kiddies screaming/running in the halls.
Hence my reason for posting this......we are royally ---- with all the children on the ship. Kids playing like well-behaved kids, are after all just kids, but drunk 13-15 yr olds having sex, fighting, swearing, carving up the elevators etc etc etc etc etc is another thing. If any of you poor mothers are out there, I have a running list of the 250 teenagers, their names and exactly what they were doing, when and with whom.
How about the 2 13yr olds that dragged the drunken hommie thru the lunch room? Gee and we all had a good look at Barbie-Gone-Bad, but this drunken kid received more stares ( wasn't Barbie an eye piece).
How about "Operation Bright Star", my guess is some damn kid lit a fire......they tried to pull the fire alarmoutside 8138 one night. That would've been dishy.......sending a fire frenzy into cruisers. I could go on and on and on and on...........Get the message?
Never ever again will I sail with Carnival, (sorry, I know it's not fair to judge them this way, but heh don't they have a policy "how many kids allowed on a cruise"? I believe they do, and violated it this time, as was reported to us, "they had never had this many kids on any of their ships at one time")
The ship WAS beautiful, cruise was great, food good, entertainment sucked. I got a good tan, and a great kidney bruise from the little darlin in the fan tail pool, that body slammed me. Did you folks like the full diapers on the one kid in the pool? Yummy, thank god I'm a nurse!
P.S. Crapival did receive a letter.
I recently completed my first cruise on the Carnival Spirit on 4/4/02. This cruise was referred to as an "Exotic Caribbean Cruise".
The Spirit is a beautiful ship. The cleaning staff were continuously involved in keeping everything clean and pleasant for the passengers. My cabin steward Teofilo was absolutely wonderful. My cabin, 8114 on the Panorama deck, was always made up promptly. I never returned to my cabin without finding it in top shape. The towel animal creations were really a delite. My cabin was quite large and although it was an inside cabin, I always found it to be a pleasant respite when I wanted to be there.
I was seated at table 217 on the main floor for the early seating which was 5:45PM. My table mates were very nice and I ended up spending quite a bit of time with them during the cruise. There were 4 of us, single men in our 50's. Our waiter Mario from Guatemala, and Mariya from Bulgaria, were charming and very helpful. We all looked forward to seeing them at dinner. Their service was excellent and they were more than eager to pleaseus and our various requests for extras. The food was varied with no repeat dishes other than the salads. All the food was served at the appropriate temperature and with little waiting time between courses. I did find the cheesecake to be not very good. I only ate in the main dining room for my evening meals simply because the alternative dining on the Lido deck was outstanding. I found that I could eat anytime and in any attire and could always find a place to sit and watch the ocean while enjoying my meals.
I especially liked the Deli and it's variety of sandwiches. Juices, punch, tea were free but you had to pay for any colas that you wanted. Don't buy the beverage card if you're an adult unless you drink a large number of colas per day. At 2.50 per drink plus 15% gratuity, you would have to drink more than 2 colas per day to make it worth buying the card. The kids cola card is cheaper and probably worth it. The shows were mostly good and well attended. I did hear a few complaints about one show, "The World's Fastest Banjo Player", as being not very good. I believe it was more a matter of those individuals personal taste rather than the performance. I thought he was outstanding. He played several Banjo standards (Dueling Banjos from Deliverence) as well as Broadway show music from Cats, Godspell to name a few. The Spirit Dancers were very talented and their lead vocalists were very good. I did think their final show with the Native American segment was a little on the poor taste side.
I found the on board duty free gift shops to have a nice selection of items and many good sales going on continuously. On the negative side, I found that there were more children on the ship than what I had been led to believe. According to Devin the cruise director, there were over 700 on this cruise. The younger children were mostly in Camp Carnival and did not cause problems. The main concern were the ones from 9 to 12 or 13 years old. They were constantly riding the elevators and many times would get on at a lower floor, punch the buttons for every floor and jump out of the elevator before the doors closed. The extra large number of children also made the pools very crowded especially when you considered the rest of the passengers wanting to swim also. Actually, you couldn't swim--only sit in the water while the kids were jumping over you. This was also true of the hot tubs. Add to that the continual deck chair saving by the adults who felt it necessary to save spots for their children even though the children rarely used them. Unless you got the the pool area before 8:00AM, you didn't stand much of a chance to get a deck chair by any of the pools.
On the morning of the 2nd day we received the newspaper with the Excursion listings for the 3 islands. However, there was also an insert informing us that "Due to the Easter Holiday the following excursions have been cancelled on Barbados and Martinique". There were 4 excursions cancelled. I selected my excursions from the remaining options and went to the excursion desk to reserve my place only to find out that everything that I wanted was already sold out. In fairness, I might have been able to get a spot if I had gone down on the 1st day at sea, however 2 of the ones that I wanted were cancelled. Anyway, I decided to make the best of it and concentrate on shopping and see the local sites on my own. Our first stop was St. Maarten. There were an incredible number of shopping opportunities and the people were very friendly. I enjoyed visiting many of these shops and walking around the area. Back on ship that evening, before the start of one of the shows, our Cruise Director Devin was on stage going over our itenerary for the next day and made the announcemnt "Due to the Easter Holiday in Barbados and Martinique, the shops in town are closed". He did say that a few of the shops on the duty free pier had agreed to open for the Spirit passengers. On Barbados there were quite a few shops in a nice terminal area but not a lot of variety. On Martinique, there were 2 shops open, one for booze and cigars and one variety shop with a very limited number of items. Had it been announced about the shops being closed on Barbados and Martinique before we left St. Maarten, I would have done all of my shopping on St. Maarten.
I am sure that I made some mistakes due to my status of first time cruiser. However, I feel that as large and experienced as Carnival is, that they should have known in advance about the Easter Holiday closings on Barbados and Martinique. While I probably would have still chosen Carnival for my first cruise, I would certainly have selected a different date and/or destination if I would have been more adequately informed. All in all, it was still a good time for me, just not the best time. I think I will try one of the other cruise lines for my next cruise and certainly ask a lot more questions before booking.
OVERALL-I recently went on the 8 day Exotic Western Caribbean cruise on Carnival's Spirit. I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. I was excited about the Panama, Costa Rica and Belize itinerary because it was so unusual and afforded my husband and I the opportunity not "just to shop" on our vacation. I was hoping to participate in some excursions that involved exciting activities that Carnival's shore excursion list seemed to promise.
PAST CRUISES-I have traveled on Carnival before, as well as Princess. Overall, I was very disappointed in this cruise.
EMBARKATION/ BOARDING-I arrived at Miami's port right before 1 PM. My husband and I went through a security check and obtained our sign and sail card quickly. We then waited until just after 3:30 to physically get on the ship. Along with hundreds others, my husband and I waited in an unconditioned hallway to board the ship. No announcements were made as to why there was such a wait. People were sitting on the floors and getting angry and thirsty. Eventually, we heard from another passenger that only one machine that took pictures for the sign and sail cards wasworking. It would have been nice to hear an occasional announcement as to what was going on. When we eventually boarded the ship, there was no one to direct us to where the elevators were or where our rooms were. Our luggage arrived by 6 PM.
THE SHIP-The ship itself was beautiful. It is mostly dark wood with gold tones. The ship had a lot of columns, marble, ample seating, sculptures and statutes. The lobby was not overwhelming and it was a great place to relax. The ship itself was laid out well with most amenities such as the casino, main restaurant, lounges etc. on the same 3 floors. The pools were also laid out along one of the top decks. The remaining floors were all cabins. I felt that the ship's public areas were in perfect condition, not worn out. The only thing I did notice was that the wood railings on all the cabin's balconies were well worn and this could be seen looking at the ship from the docks.
ENTERTAINMENT-There were approximately 2 main/ "featured shows" during my cruise. The main male singer, Christopher Alan Graves (who was a singer on the Triumph when I went in 1999) was exceptional. He sang in the 2 main shows and also in a Tribute to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. one evening. He should not be missed. There were also several midnight shows with comedy acts (better then most and don't miss Eddie Capone), jugglers etc. There was also a talent show which was excellent. As for the music, well, it was a mixed bag. The lido deck had probably the worst calypso band, Rhythm Krazy, I have ever heard in my life! I hated sitting near that band and always look for a deck chair far from them. That bothered me because I liked to sometimes watch the Lido Deck games but decided against it because the band was that band. There was also a singer in the Shanghai Bar, Emily. She was just as bad as Rhythm Krazy. Other then that, the music was excellent. Not to be missed is the band and singers in the Supper Club. I would even go to the bar and have some drinks even if you don't chose to have dinner there. They were that good. Also, the guitar player in the lobby bar area was excellent. The band, Zest in the Club Cool was great as were the jazz bands in the bar and sitting areas before entering the main dining room. It was relaxing to listen to them with a glass of wine right before dinner. The bar areas (approximately 18 of them including a sports bar, specialty bars, pool bars etc.) were plentiful and the staff at the bars catered to your needs and poured stiff drinks (if that's what you like). The casino, which I thought was surprisingly large for this class of ship, had slots ranging from a nickel to about $5. There were also numerous table games. There were several blackjack and slot tournaments. I would just be careful about the casino rules for the table games (basically there are no rules and play at your own risk; my husband learned this first-hand).
FOOD-I was disappointed in the food in the dining room on this cruise. My previous experience with Carnival's dining room food was excellent. This cruise offered many choices but below average quality. I just never thought any dish was excellent. I never finished a meal and had to send back several dishes. The desserts were an embarrassment (especially the cheesecake). I never went to a midnight buffet so I cannot comment on those. I did think the La Playa Grill food and selections were better then average. I was never disappointed in my meals (only lunches and dinners) there. The selection was varied (a grill serving hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries; a Taste of Nations area that had a different country's specialties everyday; a Chinese food area serving soups, noodle dishes and meat dishes which changed daily; a deli; a pizza area; a salad bar area). The Supper Club though, as many posters have indicated, is a MUST! The $25 per person charge is steep, yet I have to say that the atmosphere, entertainment, service, and food, is top notch. I only wish they could jack up the price for the cruise and have the same experience in the dinning room. I had a crab cake appetizer, ceasar salad, porterhouse steak, and multi-desserts (they never stopped with the desserts)! Did I say the service there was impeccable?! It is well worth the experience.
CABIN-I had a category 9A. I was surprised the room was so small. There was ample closet space. The bathroom was tiny but layed out well with enough room to store toiletries. It was adequate for 2 people but on Triumph, I had a lower category cabin but more room. I will say that the balcony was extra-large and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was on deck 8, below the pool near the La Playa Grill and location was actually great. It was convenient and I heard no noise from that area. I do have to say that one night during the cruise, the air conditioner leaked on me at 2 am and after an hour + of attempts to clean up the water on the bed and sheets, and a promise to return in the morning to ensure there was no more leak, no one returned. The leak stopped thank goodness by the AM. Nevertheless, I was exhausted from my early morning ordeal and the pursar never returned my 2 am phonecall the next day about our problem. I had to go to his office myself and tell him how upset I was. When I did, he was extremely patronizing.
PANAMA-After arriving late at the port (with no apologies for not advising us before anyone sat and waited 1 hr plus for the shore excursions to start departing), we went on the kayak and Gatun Lake / Panama Canal tour. It was excellent. I would highly recc. this tour.
COSTA RICA-Although our ship pulled into this port (and I mean literally pulled in-the ship was parallel to the dock), there was a very short announcement made that no one would be allowed to get off the ship because the seas were too rough to enable a safe exit from the ship. Some people were told at the pursar's desk, as I was, that no one left the ship because it was so unsafe however, from my balcony along with the hundreds others who had balcony rooms on port side, I saw several people leaving the ship in Costa Rica. With that ONE announcement, boom, we were gone. No further announcements, apologies, alternative ports offered, offers of reiumbursement or explanation about refunding port charges. I asked about port charge refunds and was given 2 separate answers about refunds (a yes and a no). Finally, I found a $20 pp refund on my final bill for port chgs.
BELIZE-I cancelled my tubing excursion through Carnival and chose a city tour with a taxi cab driver. It was excellent. Please email me for his name and cell # if interested. He will take you anywhere. He would be glad to make arrangements with anyone for a personal tour. He even returned my camera when I accidentally left it in his van.
DEBARKATION-Couldn't be smoother. Off the ship by 9:15AM. Tip: sit in the lobby area for quick departure.
CONCLUSION-Although I had a relaxing trip and I thought the ship as a whole was beautiful, I will not sail with Carnival again because of this experience. I feel the quality of Carnival has gone down substantially since my last cruise with them.Claudia
This was my fourth cruise....on the third, I wondered away from Carnival and was very disappointed. This was the first time I booked a balcony.....I am definately spoiled! The ship was a beauty, the food and entertainment great. To me, Carnival is the only way to go.
Now, thinking about my next destination......funny, don't even have my land legs back yet and here I am wondering where I want to venture next.Joy
Nice new ship (ideal size), somewhat gaudy decor, surprisingly good food with more choices than our last cruise on the RCL Voyager, only the deserts were mostly bland and not very tasty, friendly staff, generally very good service, too many tacky sales events on board: gold by the inch, art auction, watches, etc., extras generally more expensive than on other ships (soda card, supper club, etc.).
Many excursions are overprices and do not provide good value (kids pay FULL price on most tours), big negative: cruise line has started adding gratuities automatically to the sail and sign card - not a good idea (also disliked by the staff in question), all in all i give 4 out of 6 stars. (1=almost on a freighter to 6=top luxury class).
What a great Birthday present. Actually it was a family vacation. The 8 day cruise to Belize-Colon Panama- and Costa Rica.We really enjoyed the locks. tThere was a slight mishap with the train there- but Carnival was able to set everything right in a matter of a few hours. Due to the skilled knowlege of the crew. What a wonderful Cruise family Carnival is.
I try to observe all the little things most people over look. I am a very small town cruise agent so I like to look at the crew, watch the interaction between the cruise members and the staff. I like to learn as much as I can to help people find the cruise that fits their needs.
I was so pleased with the Spirit- She is a beautiful ship. As always, Carnival out did themselves again. The staff was very helpful, fun and friendly. Our family consisted of grandparents, My husband & I his sister,her husband and two children. We enjoyed the dining room at night- the buffet lunches as we all went in diffrent directions during the day- The children ages 7 & 11 had fun withall of us grown ups during the scavenger hunt.
The style and colors were pleasing, the grandparents loved the huge balcony they had to relax on. The bathrooms, and the cabins were very roomy and comfortable.
This was our 3rd Carnival cruise, we hope to get a chance to travel with Carnival again.