Carnival Spirit Reviews

  • Average User Rating

    Excellent
  • My Rating

    You have not rated this yet

User Ratings

Overall Rating
4.0
from 75 reviews

Cuisine

Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms

Staterooms

Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities

Nightlife

Shore Tours

Itinerary

Alternative Dining

75 User Reviews of Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship

Panama Canal
Publication Date: April 4, 2002

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.

Expand Review
Read More
 
Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 27, 2002

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.

Embarkation

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 we

were 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.

 

The Spirit

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.

Entertainment

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.

Ports

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.

Debarkation

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.

Overall

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 lvanator@comcast.net

Linda Vanator

(Message board name, deja)

Expand Review
Read More
 
Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 27, 2002

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 please

us 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.

Expand Review
Read More
 
Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 27, 2002

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 alarm

outside 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.

Sheila Cheesman

Expand Review
Read More
 
Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 3, 2002

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 was

working. 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
Expand Review
Read More
 
Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 7, 2002

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

Read More
 
Western Caribbean
Publication Date: January 14, 2002
Ok.here is our review for what it is worth! We are in our 30's and can have a good time doing just about anything!  We took the Carnival Fly Aweigh Package (we always do) and they put us up at the Wyndham Airport Hotel, which was nice although it cost us 20 bucks to go to Bayside for something to do. Day 1 -Monday January 14, 2002  Embarkation! Got up around 9:00 am and went to the Lobby to pre-register for the ship.  I think that is one of the nicest things about buying your airfare and night before package with Carnival is the fact that they pre-check you in at the hotel so you avoid the LONG lines at the pier!  It still took us about 30-40 minutes to get registered at the hotel and once that was done we went back to our room to watch TV and chill until it was time to check out at 11 am.  We had brought some Krispy Kreme doughnuts from home so we ate those for breakfast figuring that we would have a huge lunch when we got on the ship.  At 11 we went downstairs and checked out and took our entire luggage outside with us until it was time to go.  We sat by the pool and read until about 11:35 and then we headed into the lounge in the hotel to wait until we could get on the busses at noon.  At about 10 min until 1200 they started loading us onto the busses.  They made sure all the luggage got on the bus, took our transfer tickets and we were off.  It took about 10 -15 min to get to the pier from the hotel.  When we pulled in the Carnival Fascination was in port as well as a Royal Caribbean Ship.  The Spirit was beautiful sitting in port.  Got off the bus and immediately got hit up for tips and got TOLD by the porter that we tip him THEN AND THERE and he stood there until he got it! I thought that was quite rude but we paid him (we would have anyway) and took off towards the pier door.  When we got inside we went through one security checkpoint and you could see hundreds of people already waiting in the LONG check in lines so I was glad that we had already done that. They put a sticker on a ticket in your pamphlet and then they know you pre-registered already.  We headed up to the 2nd floor where we got our sign and sail cards.  I was immediately ticked off to say the least that they had given us late seating when I booked this cruise over a year ago and asked for early seating!  I was still mulling this over on the way up to the 3rd floor.  Up there we walked a long ways until we hit a long line! There were windows all the way along and you walked along side the ship all the way. The anticipation was mounting but I was still furious about the late/early-seating thing! The LONG line was for the stupid embarkation pictures!! Ours stunk because I was still fuming over the late/early seating thing. Once we got through that long line it was down an escalator where they didn't have anyone down there directing traffic so by the time we got down to the bottom of the escalator we had nowhere to go! I was annoyed but they finally got someone to come tell people to keep moving!  Then it was another long line which moved pretty quickly where you had to have your sign and sail card ready and you insert it into the machine and they take your picture for security checks.  Then down a little hallway like an airport jet way and BOOM onto the ship we were! From hitting the pier until stepping 1 foot in the atrium on the ship was 30 minutes so not bad.  My first impression was  IT WAS AMAZING! I LOVED the atrium decor! It was so classy and not as glitzy as the other Carnival Ships! Lots of dark woods and wood tones! I loved it! There was a HUGE mural from the 4th floor to the 10th floor and it was neat!!! We decided while waiting we would go to the room, drop off our luggage and head straight to the tour desk, then to Nouveau Supper Club and then to the Spa and finally to the Lido deck to eat lunch.  We went to our room and they had the tour forms in the room along with a pamphlet about each tour offered.  We spent about 10 minutes filling that out and then we headed to the tour desk back on deck 2.  We got tired of waiting for an elevator to go to our room, which was the Empress Deck Aft room 6219, and it was a GREAT LOCATION! I LOVED IT! So convenient! We were right by the Atrium and only had 1 balcony neighbor!  Anyway we went downstairs to the tour desk and turned in our tour form.  Later on I found out that a lot of the tours were sold out BEFORE we even left Miami! I was glad that we put our requests in early!  Then we headed up on an elevator thankfully, to the Nouveau Supper Club and got our reservations for Wednesday night! They had to change our itinerary because there were going to be 4 ships in Belize that first day if they didn't so we went to Panama first and went backwards which was fine with us..we didn't care!  Anyway we got the Supper Club reservations on the night we wanted at the time we wanted and it didn't appear that many people were in a hurry to book it because the night we went it was almost empty!  Then we headed up to the spa to make a couple's massage appointment! We let the girl there talk us into 2 spa reservations.1 for the next day (Tuesday) and one for the following Monday.   The couple's massage is a 50 minute massage and it cost $170.00 total (VERY worth the money in our opinion).  Then we finally headed off to the lunch buffet on the Lido deck! They had really good lasagna and pasta along with Pizza, Chinese, Rotisserie stuff and a Salad Bar.  Good variation!! About 2 we went to the dining room to see the Maitre D about our seating time and it was a JOKE! I couldn't believe it took us 45 min to get to see him and then he told us he wouldn't know until the next day so we had to go to late seating that night which was fine.  We were in a booth near the back of the dining room for 4 people, table number 204.  About 3 we got all of our luggage so we decided that we would hurry and unpack before the Muster Drill, which happened about 4pm.  The drill took until about 4:30 and we ran back to our cabin and headed up to the very front of the ship to watch us sail out.  They had scuba divers checking the ship and they finally unhooked us from the pier.  We had to go down to the end and turn around and we were being escorted by a Coast Guard Boat and Police Boat who would not let ANYONE in the Channel while we were turning around or heading out to sea! There were National Guardsmen on the side of the road across from the pier with fully loaded guns also! They stopped quite a few boats from going down the channel and I felt completely safe!  We headed out to sea and we went down to get ready for dinner and do more exploring!  At 7:00 we went to Karaoke for a while and it was ok.lots of blah singing but it was ok for something to do until dinnertime.  I was a little mad because they scheduled Who Wants To Be A Millionaire at 8 pm and late dinner started at 8:15 so we missed that! I thought they should have waited until dinner was done for both seatings but oh well.  We went to dinner and met our tablemates! Carrie and Mark from Chicago who we just hit it off with right away! We had a great time chatting at dinner.  Afterwards we went to the welcome aboard show and I got my first glimpse at Shawn Bussey! I really liked her enthusiasm but I had no idea that would be one of the few times I would actually see her!  We had a great time at the welcome aboard show!  We were beat so we went to bed shortly afterwards! Day 2 - Tuesday January 15, 2002 At Sea Got up at 9:15 or so and got ready to go to our Couples Massage after we ate breakfast.  Headed up to the Lido deck for our breakfast and I was NOT impressed here at all! The food was ALL cold and the variety stunk! I did like that they did made to order omelets however!  It was cloudy and windy today!  We headed over to our 10:30 spa appointment and got checked in.  Went to the locker rooms, put on our robes and headed to the waiting area at the front of the spa near the hot tub!  Thought that the hot tub looked really nice until some gross guy who had just got done working out came down from the gym, all sweaty and gross and just hopped right into the hot tub without showering! That made me sick to my stomach!!  We waited and waited and waited for someone to come get us.  Finally my husband headed up to see what was up.  Seems that the girl who made the reservations for us messed up big time and put us down for 2 at the END Of the cruise (something she talked US OUT of doing) and so my husband got a little huffy and they offered to give us a massage the next morning at 10:30 for a reduced rate.  We went back and got changed and headed out to the cloudy outside.  We went to our cabin to get our suits on and got a notice from the Matire D that they had changed our dinner seating to the main seating and how ironic we had the same exact table just the earlier seating!  We went up to the Lido deck near the Dome pool, found 2 chairs and hung out pretty much all afternoon.  Ate Lunch on the Lido..had Pizza and Salad and it was pretty good!  We liked that Carnival only gave out the towels in your room instead of having the bins on deck it seemed to HELP cut down on the chair saving although then people started putting books and stuff on them (seemed to be stuff they didn't care if they lost or not) but we still didn't have any problems finding a chair!  We headed down to our room to get ready for early seating!  We went to the early seating and met Joe and Jackie who were VERY nice people but we just didn't hit it off with them like we did the first couple! Tonight was the first formal night and it was the Captains Dinner so we went to the Cocktail party first and got our pictures taken.  Dinner was the Lobster dinner and it was very good! I can't remember what else there was but that I do remember was Lobster and Prime Rib.  After dinner we went to the crummy show in the Pharaoh's Palace.  It was called Standing Room Only and seemed to be a tribute to Musicals, which, neither of us can stand to listen to so we left!  I wasn't impressed with the costumes or the dancers on this ship.  Tonight was the first R rated late night comedy act and we decided to go.  We happened to meet our late night dinner seating couple and we all decided to go to the comedy show so we met up outside the show and watched it.  It was hilarious!  After the show we went to the disco to get a drink since we couldn't find another open bar. It was so loud and obnoxious in there that we left and went and sat in the Artist's Lobby.  Eddie Capone (the comedian) came by and Mark (our new friend from dinner) asked him if he could buy him a drink.  We ended up having quite a few laughs with Eddie and at 2 am we went upstairs to have some pizza.  by this time I was a walking zombie so we decided to call it a night and go to bed. Day 3 -  Wednesday January 16, 2002 Sea Day again Woke up around 9 again to LOTS of sunshine!  Today was supposed to be our "makeup" massage for the one they messed up the day before so we headed once again to the Lido deck for some breakfast and to the Library to email the kids and then off to the Spa for our treatment.  Luckily this time they had us down and we went and got a great massage.  Afterwards we went into the locker rooms to get dressed and I tried out their shower. I want one in my house.  They had jets in the sides and then one on top and so it hit your body at lots of angles. It was so nice!!  We saw they had a slot tournament and so we decided to enter it.  It cost 20 dollars and if you won you won $500.00 so we went for it.  We entered and had to be back at the casino at 1:10.  We went upstairs and laid out for a while and had some lunch until it was time to go to the slot tournament.  Of course neither of us did anything in the slot tournament so we donated 40 dollars to Carnival.  Went back to the chairs for more lying out and it was SO windy.  The boat was rocking quite a bit and I wasn't feeling that well even after taking another Meclazine.  About 3 we tried to go to Battle of the Sexes part 2 outside Club Cool on deck 2 but I got really sick and had to go lay down.  I fell asleep until 5 and then woke up and got ready for the Supper Club.  Our reservation was at 6:30 and we arrived on time! I didn't get all snazzed up but should have I guess.  I wore a nice pair of pants and a nice shirt and felt very under-dressed.  Next time I will take a nice pantsuit or something.  They seated us upstairs next to the railing so we could look down onto the dance floor.  They brought my husband Asparagus soup and they brought me a quail egg, which I did not eat.  My husband said the soup was very salty and he ate my quail egg, which he said he would never eat again.  The waiter brought them as "compliments of the chef" but who knows why.  They brought wonderful bread and I had really good French Onion Soup with what seemed to be sweet onions.  Husband had Crab Cakes and said they were superb!  We had our choice of Caesar Salad or Spinach Salad and we both chose the Spinach Salad. It was really good even if it had mushrooms in it! J  Then on to the Main course! I had a 9 oz. Filet Mignon that was so tender I could cut with my fork and husband had 12 oz. New York Strip, which he said, was also good. You could choose from a 9 oz Filet, a 12 oz New York or a 24 oz. Porterhouse along with Joes Stone Crab or Lobster Tail.  Great presentation and we ordered Baked Potatoes, which came on their own plate with small little individual portions of sour cream, butter, chives, you name it to put on the potato.  Finally came dessert which husband had Flourless Chocolate Cake and said it was delicious.  I ordered the cheesecake sampler and it was wonderful as well.  Then they brought us some petit fours and they were really yummy too! My advice would be to GO HUNGRY that is for sure! I wasn't feeling very well because of the motion of the boat so I didn't enjoy it like I wish I could have.  They brought us an anniversary cake since it was our 10th wedding anniversary and it was yummy as well.  It took about 3 hours from start to finish and it was worth every penny! We thoroughly enjoyed the food and the service was impeccable!  We were going to dance but some other couples were trying and they could hardly stand up it was rocking so badly! I wasn't feeling all that well anyway!  We left the restaurant and met our tablemates again.  We decided since we left the late seating they didn't have anyone sitting with them that we would go back to the late seating and be with them who we had a lot more in common with.  I still didn't feel well so we decided to call it a night and I went to bed.  We had an early morning the next morning in Panama so I wanted to be well rested and refreshed! Day 4 - Thursday January 17, 2002 Panama Set a wakeup call for 6:15 since we had to meet at lounge by 7 am for our Panama Canal tour.  Went to Lido deck and got some breakfast and brought It back to our cabin and watched us pull into port on our balcony while eating breakfast. It was really pretty!!!  Went to the lounge and we were off the boat by 7:20 and on to the tour busses to take us to the Panama Canal.  Took us 1 ½ hours to ride on the bus to the Canal but it was worth it all!  In the Carnival brochure of tours it says they will give you a snack. It consisted of a ham sandwich on a bun, a banana muffin and a warm soft drink! It was SO hot.around 90 degrees that day so we were dying!  We saw that the sandwich had Mayo on it so we didn't eat it.  After being on the tour for 6 hours we were starving when we got back.  Going on this tour was a highlight that is for sure!  We went through 3 locks and it was amazing!!!!  Got back to the port at 2:30 and did some shopping.  Bought some Lladro at a store there for me and my mom at really great prices.  Then we got into a horrendous line to get back on board the ship.  The Security people from Carnival were wanding every single person going onto the ship so that took awhile plus you put your card into a reader and they make sure you are you!  Then the stuff goes through the X Ray machine and you are ready to go to your room or wherever.  Went to the Lido deck and brought lunch back to the room to watch us leave.  Watched us pull out and sat on balcony for a while and then went to dinner.  Tonight was another show in the Lounge called Singing with the Big Band A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.  It was excellent to say the least!! We really enjoyed it!!!  After we headed into the Casino for another "donation" and then headed off to bed. We had another big day tomorrow in Costa Rica. Day 5 - Friday January 18, 2002  Costa Rica Ordered Room Service today and ate on our Balcony watching us come into port again in Costa Rica.  We decided to go into town right after the boat got into port because our tour didn't meet until 12:30.  We walked quite a ways until we hit the city and I was really nervous to be the only Americans in the city at that time and we don't speak Spanish.  It looked like a very poor place from the moment I started walking into the city and I was sad about that.  We wandered around trying to find some stuff to bring home and we also tried to keep ourselves from getting Tourist Brain (where it looks really cool on vacation and then you get home and wonder what on earth you are going to do with THAT!) LOL Anyway we headed back to the ship not realizing that there is a tram that will pick you up at the ship and take you to an open-air market place where you can shop! It of course started to rain and so we got wet making our way back to the ship! We went on the Lido deck and got some lunch and then headed off to the pier because that is where our Off Road tour met.  Got there and was told by Tracey (tour manager) that the vehicle would be there shortly!  Waited until 1 pm and still no vehicle. Come to find out the Celebrity ship was in port too and they somehow got first billing on that tour and they couldn't find out where the tour was they had lost radio contact with them so for that reason I am glad we couldn't go but it was still disappointing!   We threw a tour together on our own however that included a site seeing tour, trip to a banana plantation and a trip down the Torturengo Canal all for 25 bucks a person.  Carnival refunded our money, which I was happy to hear!!!  In the Canal we saw 2 and 3-toed sloths, monkeys, various birds and a baby crocodile.  Headed back to the ship around 4 pm and were getting ready for us to sail off when they announced that we would be leaving 2 hours later than expected because 2 of the tours hadn't made it back. No problem (or so I thought at the time) and so we waited until 7 before we pulled out of port and set sail for Belize.  We had a narrow encounter with a cargo ship, which missed the front of our boat by a few feet.  We had really annoying balcony neighbors below us that kept giving each other the "play by play" of what was happening to the ship. It got really annoying!!   Tonight they played the 3 Bears game but of course we were at dinner and missed it.  Tonight was also the guest talent show but we decided to hang out with Mark and Carrie and have a great time together just doing nothing!!  At 11 we went upstairs on the Lido deck for a party and it just plain sucked!  The band 2 slick sucked too!  It was a joke! It was supposed to be a Mexican Fiesta and we got stuck listening to songs from the Commodores and stuff!  The whole thing seemed stupid to us so we left.  We decided to call it a night around midnight! Day 6 - Saturday January 19, 2002 At Sea Was up all night due to the motion not feeling well and sitting in the bathroom all night long!  The boat movement was SO bad today! Worse than any other day so far! Very windy and very rocky and it was hard to walk or do anything.  The Captain was trying to make up the 2 hours we were late leaving from Costa Rica in order to get us to Belize on time and it was great except for the movement!!  We went to the Lido deck and by this time I had had it with the breakfasts on the ship! I know there aren't a whole lot of variations for breakfast but they could have at least been "lukewarm" when we ate them! I was annoyed at this the whole cruise! I thought breakfast ANYWHERE even the dining room was terrible the whole week!!  We went to the spa again for another massage and it was nice although I got a really deep massage and my back hurt to touch it for 2 days afterwards!  We decided to lie out in the sun for a while until lunch.  The movement of the ship seemed to get better as the morning wore on so that was good! I was finally able to feel more like myself!  We went to lunch in the dining room and it was excellent! I think the best lunch I had all week!!  The only downside was the terrible vibration in the dining room! It was worse at that lunch than at any other time!  I couldn't believe how loud and obnoxious it became the longer we sat there!  We went back upstairs on deck near the spa and laid out again and it was nice!! Today they did the Survivor Game, a ship wide scavenger hunt, Ping Pong Tournament for the Ladies, Golf Putting Competition, and they also played Sea Feud (something similar we heard to Family Feud). Today was also the Galley tour. We went to get ready for dinner (the days just kind of slip away from you and all of a sudden it is time to go eat AGAIN! LOL) and so we went to dinner and then headed to the Casino.  We eventually made our way up to the Shanghai Piano Bar for some singing..which sucked! Too many old songs, not enough life to the party....just all around boring!  It didn't seem like they had a lot going on on this ship this time.  When we went on the Destiny they always had something going like a Merengue Dance class or something but this ship it didn't seem like they had a whole lot to do.  Of course there was the usual "people making fools of themselves in deck games" and some bingo which cost a fortune! 10 dollars for 3 cards and only 1 game for all 3 cards and whoever won won and that was it....you were out 10 bucks! I didn't like that aspect of it either!  To drop 20 bucks to play 1 round of bingo seemed a little pricey to us!  It seemed that they were catering to the "older" crowd (no offense to them) and so the stuff stopped about 10 pm.  I remember thinking at night..what are we going to do after dinner???  We always found a way to entertain ourselves but they didn't seem to have much going on EVER!! I was disappointed with that!!!  Tonight was Showtime with Amy Van Wyk who we were NOT impressed with at all.  She had a screechy voice to us. Headed off to bed around 11:30 to get ready for Belize the next day! Day 7 - Sunday January 20, 2002 Belize Ordered room service in our cabin again and it came about 7:15 ish.  We ate and we were still sailing but we had to be in the lounge at 8:15 to get ready to go on our scuba excursion.  Got there about 8 am and just as we got there Shawn Bussey announced that we wouldn't be dropping anchor until at least 9 am! We were still an hour behind schedule from the Costa Rica late departure even though we had made up 1 hour we still were an hour behind so we sat in the lounge and waited.  Met some other divers and it was nice for me since this was my first open water dive I was very apprehensive about it all!!!  Finally at 9am they made the announcement that in about 20 min we would have dropped anchor and that they would start disembarking the tours first!!  At 9:20 they called the first tour!!  At 10 am we were still sitting in the lounge.  They called tours in numerical order starting with tour 801 and ours was 814 so we had a long time to wait.  Since Belize is surrounded by barrier reef you have to tender in and it takes about 15 min to tender to the pier and they only had about 8 -10 boats tendering so it took awhile!  At about 10:10 they started disembarking people with Tender tickets BEFORE those of us who had spent a fortune on the Carnival tour, which really really really irked me! I was furious at the thought that I had paid almost 200 bucks a person and those who didn't pay a cent were getting off before me! NEVER in my cruising, has this happened! The tour people were always given preferential treatment since we had places to go and time frames to meet! Went on the Norwegian Norway and we had to tender in every port and they NEVER let those who didn't have a tour go before those who did!! I was furious by this time!!! Finally at about 20 min to 11 they finally called our tour (out of order..they were only on tour number 807 when we got called) and we headed down to the loaded and busy gangway on Deck A.  Thankfully our Scuba boat was waiting for us at the ship so we loaded off on that boat and saved 15 min in tendering and we were off.  We went to the Turneffe Atoll and docked. It was about an hour boat ride to get there and we got our equipment set up and ready to go and then we anchored down.  We split into 3 groups of about 8 each with a dive master. It was a VERY well organized tour! I was SO impressed with this operation!! I had done research on my own before I found out that Carnival had hired Hugh Parkey to do the scuba tour for them and found nothing but good reviews on them so I was confident that things would be great and they were.  We went down 60 feet or so along a reef and we saw some great stuff.  We saw a sea turtle; a barracuda only about 10 feet from us (looked more like 2 feet LOL) but it was neat! He was very polite; let us all look at him, showed all of us his teeth and then took off.  We got to touch the sea turtle so that was really cool.  We also saw beautiful fish!!!  Then we surfaced, had a snack of chips and salsa, sweet rolls, orange wedges and pop.  Then we had been out about an hour so we got to do again to the other side of the reef and they were only 20 feet apart but completely different places it seemed! On the 2nd side we saw a HUGE grouper in the distance, a Moray Eel, schools and schools of fish and the best part was a baby octopus! It was so neat!!! Once we were done we boarded the boat and headed back to the Ship.  We got there and only had about 40 min to go to the pier (one of the major drawbacks to being an hour late arriving and an hour later getting off the ship) so we hurried and tendered to the pier. It was beautiful there! It reminded me a little of Grand Cayman (or what I saw at the pier) with really nice stores and people!!  Finally we caught one of the last tenders back to the ship and got to our room about 5 pm.  We were exhausted from diving (not realizing how much it takes out of you) and so we slowly got ready for dinner.  Tonight was the last Formal night (bad night to do it in my opinion) and so we got dressed and headed out.  I found the ship to be VERY cool at night and needed a sweater every single night! Tonight was NO exception! I was freezing and the dining room was especially cold every night! I was miserable to say the least!! I sat through dinner with my teeth chattering and goose bumps all over my arms and I didn't like that! It seemed our table was right below an air conditioner vent and it was freezing!  I also hated having to rush to get ready for formal night after a very exhausting day of tendering and touring. I felt they could have re-arranged the schedule and done that formal night the night before!  The dinners have all been ok.  Some were very good and some were very poor!  I had Prime Rib this night and it was so tough I could hardly chew it, which is something I have never had with Prime Rib.  The selections were ok on appetizers and the salad selection never seemed to change ever.  It was always mixed greens or a Caesar Salad and those were your choices.  The Desserts were ok too..typical Baked Alaska and Cherries Jubilee neither of which I like.  They had one night with really good Éclairs and one night with awesome apple pie which we had alamode!  The desserts were pretty good in flavor also.  We were really looking forward to Key Lime Pie but of course they served that the night we went to the Supper Club! LOL The show tonight was High Spirits featuring Amy Van Wyk and Christopher Alan Graves and the Spirit Dancers.  I personally didn't go to this show but my husband and our tablemates did and said after about 20 min they got bored and left.  They said it started out ok and then it went into a "ghost" theme and it wasn't that great so they left.  Tonight they had another adult comedy show in the Versailles Lounge and the comedian was David Saye which none of them thought was worth listening to.  He didn't make any of them laugh!!  At midnight was the Gala Buffet and I fell asleep and didn't make it to see it but hubby did and said it was ok.  Our tablemates went to it to eat it and said it looked a lot better than it tasted.  They said it was all pretty bland!  They let you take pictures from 11:30 until 12:30 am and our wonderful waiter Danillo told us a tip to go UPSTAIRS in the Dining room instead of on the main level and you will avoid the long lines so that is what my husband did and he said he got MUCH better pictures up there although there were probably some heads in the way it was nice to not have to stand in the line for an hour and wait to see food! I fell asleep after dinner and missed all of this but from what I was told by Hubby and Tablemates I didn't miss ANYTHING! Day 8 - Monday January 21, 2002  Last and Final Sea Day Today I woke up to the feeling that I don't know how people stay on a ship much longer than what we have been on because at this point I was ready to go home.  I felt like I had been gone forever which was good because that meant the trip didn't fly by and I was looking forward to packing up and going home.  Woke up about 9 am again (seems to be our magical time) and went up for our 2nd to last yucky breakfast meal on the Lido deck.  Off to the Spa for our final massage, which was really good although I felt a little pressure to buy something I withstood it and said no.  I felt really bad about saying no for some reason but thankfully after a small no thank you and then a firmer no thank you they let it go.  We went and took a shower in the showers in the spa locker room again (anyone can use them not just spa people.should have gone in there before dinner every night because no shower curtains to deal with and large roomy stalls! But anyway took a shower and then headed out to lie in the sun and bake! It was SO hot today in the sun!! Went and got some lunch and tried to lay out some more but we just got so hot we got sick!! Today on deck they did an ice carving demonstration followed by the deck games finale.  They also FINALLY did a dance class, which was the Austin Powers Dance Class, but we didn't go.  At 3pm they did the newlywed/not so newlywed game and then at 3:30 they did Up Close and Personal where you can ask Shawn and her staff what life Is really like on a ship! I heard that was pretty cool but we decided to go during that time and pack up most of our stuff so we wouldn't have to do it later that evening! It took us about an hour to get packed up and ready to go.  Sat in our cabin (wanted to use the balcony but we couldn't because it was just too windy) so we sat in the cabin and read for a while.  Time to get ready for dinner again!  We went to dinner and had a great time for our last dinner!!  The waiter and his helper (cant get used to the new titles!) but they were great!! We tipped them over and above the sign and sail tips on our account because they were fabulous! Our dinner was superb this last night!  Tonight the show was Farewell Showtime, which featured the Juggling Entertainment of Steve Athearn and the Comedy of David Saye (who was the comedian the night before or 2 that my husband didn't laugh once at) so we skipped it.  We went to the Casino again and made our final contribution there and then we went to go email our kids one last time.  Got to the Internet library about 10:10 and just got online and they kicked me off saying it closed at 10 pm. NOWHERE did I read that they closed that early so I was a little perturbed!  We decided it was late and we had to get up really early to make it to our last and final breakfast (thank goodness for that) so we went to finish our last minute packing and put our luggage in the hall and went to bed. Day 9 - Tuesday January 22, 2002  Disembarkation Day L Woke up this morning to a wake up call at 6:30 and got up to watch us pull into Miami! I was somewhat sad to think that reality was going to set in soon but I was also ready to go home and see my kids!!  We went to the dining room and they did the open seating thing which I HATE!  We got stuck with some boys who we didn't know, didn't care to know and just wanted to eat and get on with it.  Finally we saw our dinner tablemates come in just as we were getting ready to order so we bolted and ate with them at a table! POOR POOR POOR service here this morning! It was as if they knew they already had their money and we were leaving so "go away" type of an attitude!  I was disgusted by the "smart a$$" comments our waiter made to us and wrote it down in my comment card which I lost later on in the day!!  During breakfast they called out 1 lucky comment card winner of a whopping $100.00 just for filling out the card.  We headed upstairs to get our stuff and you could sit in the Lounge, on the Lido Deck or on the Promenade deck.  This morning we also got our final bill of our sign and sail card and the Spa had made a billing mistake and charged us 150 bucks more than we should have been charged and then only credited us 60 dollars back so we were still short on the money we were credited so we headed to the pursers desk.  We got there only to be informed that that would be handled by the Spa people at the spa after 8 am.  Went up there around 9 and no one around so hubby went back to the pursers desk and waited until they could find the manager.  At about 9:20 they started calling out colors to disembark and our color was the first one to get called. I was in NO hurry to get off the ship and we were still waiting for Spa manager so we waited around until she came.  We showed her what the problem was and she fixed it without any problems at all.  Gave us our credit and we decided to head out to the airport because our flight was at 12:55 (good thing we did too!).  We walked off the ship and since we waited until almost everyone from our color had gone off our luggage was SIMPLE to find!! We walked through customs no problem at all and we went outside to an organized mess! LOL   We were told from one man to go to one bus so we started heading there and then we were told to board another bus.  We gave the guy our luggage and got on board.  We waited about 10 min for the "geriatric" crowd to get their acts together and we were on our way!! It took about 20 min to get to the Miami International Airport and once there, WHAT A MESS!!! There were tons of busses dropping people off at the airport and we waited for what seemed to be an eternity until he could find a spot and unload.  He (driver) picked a spot, grabbed EVERY PIECE OF LUGGAGE out of the cargo hold of that bus, put it all in one spot, asked for his tip and he was gone.  A real mess! They dropped us off between Us Air and Continental with Delta (our airline) at the end.  We smartly chose to skycap our luggage...worth every penny of every dollar because when we got inside they had a HUGE line of people.  We started towards security and there was a HUGE line of people and you went through 9 sets of switchbacks before you got to the end.  Once there you had to place EVERYTHING ON YOU even your wallet or credit cards in a container on the belt and walk through.  My husband had a belt on and of course it beeped so they pulled him out of line, took him to another place, made him take his shoes off, made him take his belt off, and patted him down twice! I couldn't believe it but it made me feel a little safer (not much but some) then he finally got done and we headed to the gate!! It took us about an hour from the skycap to the gate! I wasn't prepared for that but thankfully we had enough time!! Final Thoughts on the Ship and Itinerary! Bad parts of it all------ 1. The bar staff in our part of the dining room was horrendous to say the least!! When we confronted the Maitre D he promised to make it better the next night and it was a little better but this was night 5.  The rest of the nights we had our drinks waiting for us (which is what I remembered that service to be like from previous cruises) but having to wait until ½ way done with your entree seemed a little long to us!!! 2. The Lido breakfast (as discussed earlier) was terrible! I have never eaten such cool to cold food in my life except cereal!! 3. NO ENTERTAINMENT worth sitting up for in our opinion!!!  The shows were all boring, the comedians except for Eddie Capone were lame, the dancers seemed less than energetic to be there and it seemed that during the day there was NOTHING to do but lay in the sun or participate in stupid deck games where you make a fool out of yourself but not enough for all 2000 people to do anything!! I was disappointed in that!! 4. The band selections were poor also! I thought the only good band was the spirit band in the main show lounge!  They had classical music going almost every night in the atrium....would have been nice to have a change.  They had a guy playing the Artist's Lobby and he sang the same music set EVERY NIGHT so after 3 days of hearing Brown Eyed Girl I got sick of it! 5. The crowd was MUCH older than we are used to on a Carnival ship and while that wasn't all bad it wasn't all good, either!! Some of them were downright RUDE and Crotchety!! One woman went off on me in the elevator for 5 min about how rude "my generation was" and I wanted to yell "BACK AT YA HONEY!" but didn't!! 6. The food in the dining room had nights where it was almost inedible!  Tough Prime Rib and no salad selection to say the least. 7. I hate the new way of waiting on tables with the team concept! It was very impersonal and cold! We never got to chat with our waiter except if we stayed LONG after his other tables had left!!  I like to get to know them and them to know me!! 8. The vibration of the ship in the dining room! It drove me crazy every night! It was worse some nights than others but still always there and very pronounced. 9. The toilet flushing! We could hear it VERY loudly in our room and it sounded like it was multiple toilets going and it never seemed to stop! I hated listening to the WHOOOOSH constantly! 10. NO STORES to shop in hardly! They had 2 stores and that was it! I thought the prices were ok but the selection was your typical t-shirts, alcohol and Tommy Hillfiger clothing!  I didn't see anything too eye catching and it was sad that this gorgeous promenade was wasted on NO shops! THE GOOD parts of it all 1. Taking the fly aweigh with Carnival was great! They took great care of us and let us check in early at the hotel.missed a huge line! 2. Our room location was wonderful! Where the lifeboats are the ship is a little more recessed than where the lifeboats are not and we lucked out and got the first cabin on the jut out right after the last lifeboat and it was awesome!  We only had 1 cabin neighbor next to us and then on the left side of the balcony there was no one near us!  It was big enough for the 2 chairs and the table but nothing else!  We were at the center right next to the Atrium and I thought at first bad place to be but it turned out to be wonderful!  We never heard the elevators once! 3. Quiet rooms! Never heard our neighbor! Don't know if that is because they were older and went to bed early, if they were just quiet or if the rooms were quiet but except for the bathroom noise listed above that was awesome! 4. Getting around the ship was a breeze!  I love the fact that the galley was in the basement so that you could have a straight shot on all the floors and not have to go up or down a level to go along the ship. 5. The Nouveau Supper Club was definitely a highlight!! The food and service were impeccable!  It was quiet and romantic and a really nice atmosphere!!  We enjoyed the fact that we were the only table our waiter had so we got extra attention!! The food was magnificent and the cheesecake and warm flourless chocolate cake were awesome!!! 6. We could ALWAYS find a deck chair on board! Our ship was almost all full! I think they had 2 available cabins Shawn Bussey said and yet when we went up on deck there were still stacks and stacks of chairs not being used and we still didn't find a problem in getting a chair! I think most of this was because of the older crowd but hey I am NOT going to complain here! It seemed on the Destiny if you weren't up there by 6 am you didn't get a chair ANYWHERE! 7. Room Service was wonderful as well.  In the morning we wanted fresh fruit and it wasn't listed on the breakfast list so we jokingly wrote it in and the next morning we had a bowl of fresh fruit! It was great! Our room steward (ess) Patarin or Pat for short brought it to us and it was always on time if not a few minutes early! After going on the tours we were starving so we came back to the boat, ordered a huge amount of stuff from room service, took a shower and it was there and waiting for us!!  We tried the BLT's and they were excellent and they came with CHIPS! We were craving potato chips and they came with them.  We also ordered a chicken wrap on a tortilla and it was excellent as well.  We had vegetable sticks and the cookie brownie selection for dessert! All of it was wonderful and our tablemates said the same thing! 8. It was nice to be able to wait in more places than just the lounge to disembark this time! We waited up on the Lido deck overlooking the pier and watched all the action going on!  They have the process down and once they started calling colors it went very quickly!! We were off in about 10 min and had our luggage 2 min later! Of course some of that was because we waited for a few more colors to be called before we headed down so there wasn't a whole lot of luggage in our section left. All in all this was a wonderful vacation and we REALLY enjoyed ourselves! We sat back for 8 days and just relaxed and let others take care of us!  The motion on the ship was a lot more pronounced than other ships but except for the one night and next morning I did ok with it! I think that had to do more with I was stuffed silly from dinner and the motion kind of took over the rest! LOL    We had a great time and we honestly really enjoyed the ports!! I loved that they aren't so tourist trapped yet and the tours although they had their problems (but what ship doesn't have at least one tour have a problem..none that we have been on anyway) they were nice and very well organized in our opinion!!  The pier at Costa Rica is kind of yucky because it is a main shipping yard but I am sure that will change with time!! I read tons of reviews where people hated the stops and I was really apprehensive but I LOVED THEM!! I would go back on that ship and itinerary in a heartbeat!!!  I would love to go with a YOUNGER crowd and with different entertainment but if someone offered me to go again on that ship, same itinerary, same entertainment I would jump on it in a heartbeat!!  I already miss her beauty!!!  She was very elegant and very tasteful and I thought that the different themes, in the different rooms, were a nice touch! At least then you KNEW you were in a different room with a different theme and you couldn't get confused! I loved that the atrium was more toned down although it did seem much smaller than the Destiny Atrium I still preferred the Spirit's Atrium!  I asked a deck mate about the supposed ash problem (Which we saw very little of) and he told me it was because of garbage burning. He said they were now burning garbage AT NIGHT while we all slept to avoid a lot of problems with it and we didn't see much problem on our balcony.  We had one day where it was really bad but I think that had more to do with how badly the wind was blowing than anything else.  All 4 days the waterslide was open and operational. I didn't go on it.. In fact I only went to the very back of the ship on deck 9 once to take pictures..but I went to see if the waterslide was open and it was.  They had it open at specific times not all day long but it didn't look like much of a problem.  The slide was open from 10 am until 1 pm and from 2 until 4:30 pm weather permitting and like I said it was open all 4-sea days for at least part of the time.  Also if any of you are wondering they have a few NON smoking places and so I am going to list those places for those of us who get really tired of being overcome with 2nd hand smoke!  The following are the places that are nonsmoking on the ship (not many) The infirmary The Photo Gallery The Versailles Lounge The Information Desk The Empire Restaurant The Gift Shop The Chippendale Library The Pharaoh's Palace The La Playa Grill The Fitness Center and Spa The Jungle Walk And The Fun House. These other places are available to smoke in - Shanghai Piano Bar Club Cool Louis XIV Casino Dancin Dance Club Nouveau Supper Club **Cigar and Pipe Smoking is restricted to Open Decks and Deco Lobby is designated as cigar bar. There is an adult's only whirlpool on Lido deck aft. The first day at sea while laying out they came by and told several smokers to put out their cigarettes where we were laying out.I was SO thankful for that!! I don't care if others smoke but don't do it around me! I don't like to smell it or smell like it or breathe it!!! I hope this review helps others who are going on this ship or on this itinerary or both!!  I know reading helped me a lot although I did notice it made me a little more apprehensive about the ports but that was all in vain! I loved all 3 of them! I would like to go back to Belize to see more of it but the impression I got was it was close to Grand Cayman! Take Care and Happy Cruising! Heidi and Ryan Smith
Expand Review
Read More
 
Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 21, 2001

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).

Read More
 
Western Caribbean
Publication Date: November 27, 2001

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 with

all 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.

Expand Review
Read More
 
 
Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: November 19, 2001

First of all, it was a great cruise. We ate too much, drank too much and spent too much, so it was a rousing success. Like all vacations it had its moments that were great and its moments that were not so great. Any negative observations are offered only with the intent to help the next traveler.

Overall we were happy with the Carnival experience, our second. We were a party of four (myself, my husband, my daughter and my mom) and we stayed in cabins 8231 and 8233, category 8I.

We flew in a day early and stayed at the Days Inn Miami at Miami Beach. We chose this hotel because of its price ($50) and proximity to the beach. We had hoped to save some money over the Wyndam and Sheraton rates on the bay. Unfortunately by the time we paid all of the taxi fares we didn't save anything at all. There are no restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. While rates to and from the airport are set within Miami, all other fares are metered. It cost us approximately $12 cab fare each way to

dinner. We ate at the Crabhouse - good but expensive. In addition, our fare to the pier was $45. I believe that our driver took us the long way to make the fare higher but of course I don't know that for sure. We got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel (adequate but expensive) and took a short walk on the beach. We were so excited to be finally starting our vacation and couldn't believe that we'd be sailing those same seas later that day!

We arrived at the pier about 11:00 am. From the outside it was a madhouse. There were three ships in port and a huge line of cars was waiting to get to the port. Thank God we arrived early. We were watching the taxi meter creep up with dismay. Not to worry, though, our driver edged his way through, leaning out the window, cursing eloquently and shaking his fist for emphasis. And I do mean cursing, up to and including the mother of all curse words! Sailors could take notes from this man's cursing.

The waiting area is staged. You go through the checkin, then proceed to another area to get sail and sign cards. We then were moved from one area to another to wait, about four different areas I guess. Couldn't figure out why we were moved from area to area until we got to the last point, where they were taking pictures to accompany your sail and sign cards. In order to avoid a buildup at this point they staged the waiting. I think we were on the ship about 1:30 pm so it was a bit of a wait. Not much security getting on the ship other than the aforementioned picture taking. The bag screening seems to be mostly to check for liquor. I brought four bottles of wine in my carryon and they wanted to check that it was wine and not booze. I had to unpack it to show them. We did sneak on a fifth of scotch for my husband in the checked baggage. As far as I know the checked baggage was not screened.

At the recommendation of someone on the board I had bought wristbands to hold our card keys. In general we loved not having to fumble for our card keys on the ship. This was especially nice since I had several outfits that did not have pockets. I also went prepared with my holepunch and already had our cardkeys on the wristbands by the time we got on the boat. If you are going to do this be sure to punch the hole at the very bottom right hand corner of the card. The card must fit all the way into the security machine, so I had a bit of a hassle changing the card around on the wristband. After that it was great.

Your first glimpse of your home for the next 8 days is always thrilling and ours was no exception. I've seen lots of negative comments about the decoration of the Spirit. Our assessment was that it was very richly appointed, but a little too busy. For example, they have decoration on each and every column in the Pharoah's lounge. The decorations were lovely gold depictions of flying Scarab beetles but would have been nicer if there had been one on every other column, for example. The net result of too much decoration is a closed in feeling on many parts of the ship. The atrium for example has a lot of gold filigree trim. Again, a little too much of a good thing, and so much of it keeps the atrium from having a light and airy feeling. It just closes it in too much. Even so, it is impressive, new, sparkling and clean. The neatest public room is the jungle, which is basically a walkthrough area to the funhouse but it doesn't get too much use because it's out of the way.

We had ordered cabin decorations for my mom's birthday which were unfortunately not there. I waited in line at the purser's office to ask and was told they'd be there by 2. 2 came and went with no decorations. I never did succeed in getting those decorations and now I get to have the fun of disputing the charge on my credit card. I didn't find the purser's staff especially responsive to getting this corrected.

There is a really cool waterslide on this ship at the very top of the ship. Interestingly enough, it does NOT empty into a pool but appears to just recycle its own water. I say appears because it was never open to my knowledge. It was never mentioned in the capers and I never saw or heard any reference to it. It was like it didn't exist. We didn't care enough to be bothered by this but if anyone else knows if it is not usable we'd like to know for curiosity's sake. Perhaps it was too rough on our voyage to be used.

There are only three shops on board, two of which sell the normal selection of duty free and souvenir items. The other shop is the formal shop which sold chocolates, tux rentals flowers etc. The prices for duty free items were not as good as those on shore in the ports, but I think that is typical.

The gym is very large and airy. It has a Jacuzzi in the middle that must be accessed through the spa. Of course the gym would not compare to one on land but does compare favorably to others I've seen on ships. I have to agree with some of the other comments I've seen about cruising becoming LESS inclusive than more inclusive - in addition to the Nouveau Supper Club, there was a soda fountain selling specialty desserts and coffee and there were charges for some of the aerobics classes. No, I am not kidding. Kickboxing for example was a $10 charge. I don't like this trend in cruising. We did not use any of the spa services, finding them on cruise lines to be far more expensive than the same services on land. We do our manicures, pedicures etc before we get on the ship.

The pictures taken on this cruise were excellent. We bought too many. But I have to say that you should buy them, maybe next year you won't look as good, LOL. Also I had bought a really great dress! The backgrounds were varied and interesting and seamless with the floor drapes. The beach shots look just like you are on a beach, and the Titanic staircase background is elegant. Take lots, they don't cost anything to have made! The only problem is that you may buy too many, just like us. We went and looked at our pictures everyday. The only negative comment I have about the pictures is that the shore pictures were all the same, just a life preserver with the port name and date at each port. We didn't buy any of these. At St Maarten, where the Dawn Princess was also docked, they were taking really cool pictures with the ship in the background. Carnival, take note! As a lark we talked about going over and having our pictures made by the Princess photographers but decided we might have a little trouble getting them!

The dining room was richly appointed and again well but over-decorated. It has many tables for two and four and very few tables for larger parties. It was a real disappointment to us to not get to sit at a big table and meet other people. David, the Maitre'D, explained that this was what most people wanted. What a pity. I also noticed that many people did not eat in the dining room. I have never been able to understand that. The Nouveau supper club may have contributed to the emptiness of the dining room but I think many people ate at the LaPlaya grill instead. The only nights heavily attended were Thanksgiving, the second formal night and the last night when the LaPlaya was closed.

Our category 8I cabins were fine. Despite the much-touted size of Carnival cabins we found them to be about the same size as the balcony cabins on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Storage space was excellent, particularly in the bathroom where little glass shelves at intervals provided a perfect place for his and hers toiletries. There was actually more space than we needed and we really don't travel light. There are safes and hairdryers in the cabins.

The selection of in-cabin movies was very poor, three per day and repeated every other day. They are advertised as first run movies, but unless you consider videos from last month first run you would be disappointed. Again, not something we care about (except for my 12 year old daughter) but I mention it just in case you do.

The cabinets and closets are real wood, very classy. One word of caution about the closets. They are not very deep and fasten with a snap together mechanism. Be sure to keep your clothes away from the mechanism. My husband's tux suffered an injury when it was too close to the fastening mechanism. The deck is teak, again very classy and lovely for those bare feet! The larger balcony was very nice in size. The bathrooms are decorated in aqua blue, very retro but nice. One place that Carnival skimped in the cabins is the shower - there is just a curtain. With all the rest of the lovely cabin furnishings why they didn't spring for a shower door is beyond me. We were provided bathrobes to use on our trip. There is a clothesline in the shower, one of those affairs that stretches across and anchors on the other side. Ours did not work, but I just hooked up a bungie cord on the balcony and used clothespins to dry those wet bathing suits.

Our cabin steward's name was Nelson and he provided excellent service and was cheerful and friendly. We had towel animals every day except the first and last. We had mints every day. He did not make our beds into a king and we were not aware that this could be done. Not too conducive to snuggling! But comfortable. My daughter got cookies on both formal nights.

Our balconies were sheltered by a deep overhang and we were directly below the LaPlaya. If you wanted a nice shady spot that was fine. It you wanted a sunbathing spot you were out of luck. We were never bothered by the sounds from the grill above, and the aroma of breakfast each morning was a nice plus. We had a lounge chair, regular chair and small table on the balcony. The doors between balconies DO open, but our steward would not open ours between our adjoining cabins. He stated that it would be a safety risk as they could not be secured once opened. I offered to secure it with a bungie cord but no go. We also provided a $20 tip in the hopes this would help but again no go. They open with a triangle shaped wrench and since we forgot to pack ours, LOL, we were out of luck.

A word here about bungie cords to hold your balcony door open. This will work, however, the doors are very heavy and your bungie cord will get stretched out and ruined. Either bring a heavy duty bungie cord or just prop your door open with your lounge chair.

The balconies are extremely private. Even if you wanted to see your neighbors it would be difficult. There is a small open space on the bottom (big enough for my 12 year old to wriggle through) but you will certainly feel like you are on your own private ship when you are on your balcony.

There was a lot of movement on this ship, particularly on the first day at sea and the first day at sea on the way back. I don't know if it was because we were moving very quickly or if the long narrow configuration of the ship caused the side to side rolling. Everyone commented on it. I did not see anyone sick, nor did we get sick. It was a bit disorienting, though and actually kept me awake one night. Coming back we had our sea legs and coped with it admirably. Once I got off the ship, though, I had trouble getting my land legs! I felt like I was still moving!

Our weather was mostly very good with a few brief downpours. We were walking on the deck one day and noticed a small isolated patch of rain out to sea. Very pretty! by the time we had made two turns of the deck, it was no longer a small patch out to sea but a very large downpour right over the ship - everyone really ran for cover that day! It only lasted a few minutes though. Temperatures were VERY hot and humid in the islands we visited, actually miserable, but you are there once in a lifetime and there to have fun, so ignore the weather and enjoy! We left our balcony door open some nights, but when between ports, it was just too hot and humid to do so.

The casino is very large and enjoyed a lot of activity. You must walk through the casino on deck 2 to get from the atrium to the public rooms in the front of the ship. This was interesting because on other ships, we had to make an effort to go in and they were always patrolled by a staff member to ensure no one under 21 entered. Not only could you enter this one, I several times saw children standing in the casino watching their parents play slot machines. I did not see any children observing play at the tables. One formal night when all the bars were very full, my husband daughter and I sat at the bar in the casino so we could have an after dinner drink (Shirley Temple for my daughter) and this was permitted also. My husband played roulette several nights and came out slightly ahead, unfortunately not enough to make up for our bingo losses. We played blackjack one night and I made about $25. We liked the dealers. In fact, all the staff on the ship was friendly and outgoing.

A couple of notes about drinks here. My daughter purchased a soda card. This is the first cruise where I ever felt she got a real value for it. Not only was she served a large soda (not a small glass) each time she asked, Shirley Temples were also included on the card. It was a great value.

We purchased 20 drink coupons to use on the ship thinking it would a savings. It is not a savings and I am sorry I did this. First of all, the coupons are not in your cabin. They are given to you your first night at dinner and you must ask for them. Had I purchased these as a gift I am not sure they would have been received. Secondly, the coupons state, good for one drink not to exceed $4.75, gratuity included. So there is only a savings if you drink something that costs $4.75 exactly, and what you are saving is the 15% gratuity. Now this does not affect Carnival but affects the poor server bringing the drinks! So, we tried to drink things that cost $4.75 exactly, which are mostly frozen drinks, which we don't care for. I had hoped to use them for wine but this was not allowed. And most times we gave a tip to the server anyway so the drinks we really didn't want cost us more than we would have spent anyway. So, my advice is, don't buy the coupons! The drink prices are in general (except for wine by the glass) much more reasonable than what you would pay on land!

Yes, tips were on the sale and sign card and included a gratuity for restaurant management and for Nouveau Supper club for a total of $9.75 per day per person. Of course we not only left the tips on the card but gave extra to everyone - waiter, assistant waiter, bar servers, cabin steward etc. I asked the staff if they were receiving better or worse tips since this had been implemented. They told me that it had only been two weeks since it had begun so they had no way to tell yet. I also asked several of the staff if they received all the tips that people had on sail and sign cards or if Carnival deducted anything. One person told me of course they received it all, and another told me that they got no breakdown, just a lump sum with no idea who had tipped what. I have no problem with this process as long as the hardworking gals and guys are getting all the money but I just worry that that is not the case. Call me a pessimist but I feel that cruise lines are not above cheating the help. So, if you want to be absolutely sure, take your tips off the sail and sign and hand them out, in cash, yourself. That's what I'll do next time even though it is a convenience to leave them on the card.

The two pool areas also saw a lot of action and the usual silly games etc., which are always great fun to watch. We did not spend much time laying out but noticed the usual lounge chair saving that always seems to happen on Carnival. Even so there were plenty of available spaces. We did not use the pools. It was very windy on deck during our trip.

The jogging deck is nice and you can watch the volleyball players as you make your circuit. Immediately below that is an observation area on deck 9 (actually accessed from deck 10) at the very front of the ship which is very nice. Don't miss this spot for coming into port. Also, if you are into stargazing we found the best place on the ship to do so. Between the funnel and the radar on deck 10 there is a small space where deck chairs are stored at night. This is the darkest area on deck and if you are agile you can climb to the top of the stack of deck chairs, lie down with your binoculars and fall into the sky. I am sure we would not have been allowed to climb on the stack had the staff seen us, but no one was around and we took advantage of this spot on two nights.

One area of disappointment was the age mix on this cruise, it was definitely older. Age groups in the kids clubs were changed around, I think because there wasn't a big group of kids. Our daughter ended up in 12-15 group, not 9-12 group and this group was a little mature for her. As a result, we did more silly Carnival games and activities as a family, but we had a great time doing them. We did crafts (made a Carnival pen case, and got a free Spirit ink pen, whoo hoo) participated in the Scavenger hunt and came in third and watched most of the game show activities. We were never lucky enough to be chosen but had fun watching. Alas, the coveted "ship on a stick" eluded us, and we had to be content with our bronze medals from the Scavenger hunt.

We sat at no less than three different tables in the Empire! We checked our dining table immediately and as we were assigned to a table for four, asked to be moved to a larger table. I love my family but we do have a tendency to run out of things to say to each other after a few days! David promised to try but no guarantee. The first night we were at our originally assigned table and it was fine. Our waiter was John from India and it was love at first sight, what a great guy! Also, our table was positioned so that we could converse with a couple of other tables. So we were content.

Alas, we had monkeyed with fate and David succeeded in moving us to a table for 12. We were happily anticipating meeting our tablemates the next night (formal night). The first family sharing our table arrived. The woman icily demanded what we were doing at her table. When she was informed by the waiter that the seating arrangements had been changed, she glared at us and then quite obviously moved her seat so her back was to us! We tried smiling and striking up a conversation but to no avail. The second family also indicated that they would be happier alone. No, we are not offensive people! The first woman sent back no less than three dishes that night so maybe she was just hard to please. We found them all quite good. The waiter for this section, Trevor, was very efficient but about as friendly and as stone-faced as an undertaker. After suffering through one meal, we very humbly went back to David and asked to be moved again. We had hoped to get our original table back with John but unfortunately someone else had it. I am sure they had a great time. Thank God David was able to accommodate us with another move or this would have been a miserable cruise! Really, I would have sat on the floor, or eaten in the La Playa grill every night rather than suffer through another meal like that!

Our third table was again at a table for 4, with alas, no conveniently positioned tables for conversation with others. As I mentioned before, on many nights the Empire was pretty empty. Our waiter, Benny from Indonesia, was friendly and upbeat but seemed a little overwhelmed on nights when the tables were full. He didn't really connect with my daughter - he treated her more like a six year old than a twelve year old. On the nights when it was less busy, we spent a lot of time talking to both our wait staff about their homelands and this was very interesting. My husband is a real current events nut and can talk to anyone about the events in their homeland. Our assistant waiter, Tommy from Croatia, was a dream. Extremely hard working, very personable, excellent people skills. We singled him out especially on our comment cards. John (our first waiter) also came up to talk to us several times. We gave him a small tip also on the last night which he did not want to take, but we insisted. I guess the team concept was in effect, the waiters called themselves team waiters but I didn't see any difference, you have the same waiter all of the time, and your busboy is now called your assistant waiter...? So what is really different?? Do the waiters have more tables? Our drink server in the Empire was not very personable and usually had to be asked to come to our table.

We found the food in the Empire excellent, the best food we've had on a cruise yet. I have three extra pounds to prove it, too. The lobster tail was large and succulent. Appetizers especially were good, I had at least two and sometimes three every night. Soups were less good but interesting. The pumpkin soup is outstanding. Beef entrees were tender, the duck was excellent, fish good to excellent. I did not have desserts often but my daughter had two or three every night and pronounced them yummy. We had a cheese platter after dinner every night.

We had lunch at the Empire whenever possible and it was also quite good. Lunch is at your regular table, not open seating as it is on RCI. Breakfast is open seating. We had breakfast two times in the Empire and it was OK. Not too much you can do with breakfast.

We ate at the Nouveau one night. It was very good but we cancelled our reservation for a second night. They only have one menu and it is heavily geared to main entrees, very large portions. Presentation of food was outstanding. If they had a second menu we would have returned, but we had tried everything between the four of us that we were interested in and liked the variety in the Empire dining room. We just didn't feel it merited another $80 to eat there again. Also the wine selection was more expensive so we spent more on wine than we did in the Empire.

The Empire was not open for lunch on port days. Two of the port days we had lunch on land. We only ate at the LaPlaya on embarkation day, one port day and for a couple breakfasts. The food was good for cafeteria style fare and very varied. However, I think I got lost in the LaPlaya about five times every time I ate there. All of the different areas for different cuisine are somewhat confusing. Be careful what you are standing in line for . Didn't eat any of the deli sandwiches but had some of the delicious pizza every night about 11:30. Hamburgers looked good but didn't have any. Wasn't really tempted by the midnight buffets other than the night they served sushi, which I partook of liberally. Visited and photographed the grand buffet, which was beautiful, but didn't go back to eat any. Chose pizza instead! Did get to visit with John at the buffet though.

We ate room service for breakfast on several mornings. We put out our hanging orders the night before and our requests were delivered promptly at the time we requested. We tipped $2 each time. The selection was limited but it was nice to have 'breakfast in bed'. My mom ordered tea and coffee from room service at other times of the day and said it was very prompt.

We saw most of the shows. We had a great drink waiter, who always remembered our names, our drinks and our sail and sign card number. All the staff on the ship (well most, except for purser's staff) were great! Friendly, outgoing, offering to take your picture.

I've seen lots of bad reviews of Shawn Bussy which I feel were not merited. She could be irritating at times but all cruise directors have to be a little over the top. I think she connected with the majority of passengers pretty well. At the end of the cruise there is a segment called "up close and personal" where the passengers could ask questions of the cruise director staff. This is very interesting if you like to hear how the other half lives and we heard some pretty wild stories! She really loosened up as the cruise wore on and seemed very likeable. She is Carnival's only female cruise director and I know how tough it is to be a woman in a man's world! My hat is off to her.

We enjoyed singing in the piano bar with Steven one night. Pretty campy. Some folks went every night but once was enough for us.

The captain's cocktail party as well as the repeater's party were well done and well attended. At the captain's cocktail party we ordered from the bar rather than the servers and the drinks were free. We didn't sample any of the appetizers that night. The appetizers served during the repeater's party were yummy, we had some of each. At this party, held in the Pharoah's palace, they were circulating with non-alcoholic punch, two kinds of wine and two kinds of mixed drinks. They were not at all shy about offering seconds and thirds on appetizers and drinks. A funny old gentlemen got up on stage and danced across holding two American flags while the band played classical music. Now those are definitely the moments you remember from your cruise!

We spent WAY too much money playing bingo, we played as a lark the first night and won $50. Well, that did it and we were hooked and played every game after that. Never won a penny! Oh well!. Had fun buying scratch and win cards too, lost a little more there!

We chose this cruise partly for the ship and partly for the itinerary. Neither disappointed. A quick word on the shore excursions though - I had requested a list from Carnival before we left. Once we got on the ship, a new list was in our cabin which did not include some of the excursions that were on the list Carnival sent me. So, don't get your hopes up too much if you use the pre-list. We booked immediately upon boarding the ship and got everything we wanted. We did hear people complaining that they signed up immediately after the shore talk and didn't get their choices. So, if there is something you are particularly interested in you might want to sign up on the first day aboard.

In St Maarten my huband and I did the America's Cup Regatta. Unfortunately there was no wind that day, but it was still informative and interesting if not exactly exciting. My mom and daughter did the butterfly farm tour and said they had a great time. Afterwards we took a cab to Marigot on the French side. I am a student of the French language so take every opportunity to use my French. I found the French on St Martin to be colloquial and difficult to understand. We had some wonderful calamari,onion soup and beaujoulais in La Bar de la Mer (I highly recommend it!) and then did some perfume shopping at Lipsticks. The clerk was from Provençal and was living in St Martin as the economy (and weather) was better than in France. She took her 5 weeks vacation each year to return home. Always interesting to meet people from faraway places.

On Barbardos, my daughter, husband and I did a snuba expedition. This is a great introduction to scuba. You are fitted with a regulator but instead of a tank on your back, the tank rests in a little raft. You can either use your regulator as a snorkel and hold on to the raft or dive down to look at the wreck, about 20 feet below. Although scary at first it was fun. Kelsy who is a champion swimmer, was all over the wreck within minutes. I'm a little more timid but found my way down before it was over. My mom did the city tour of Barbardos which she enjoyed. After our snuba, we had a cold drink at a nearby restaurant and then rather than take a taxi back, we walked over to Columbia Emeralds and I was lucky enough to become the proud owner of a small but exquisite emerald pendant and earrings. We were helped by Michelle who was interrupted when her boyfriend drove up outside the store and honked his horn! We told her to go see what he needed, we'd wait!.

Beware that if you want to shop at the cruise terminal in Barbados which has lots of interesting shops - the shops close well before the ship leaves. You are in port from noon - 10. We did our tour and some shopping in town and then returned to the ship for dinner, planning to return after dinner for some shopping before 10 pm. Everything was closed except for one ambitous shopkeeper that stayed open. Bet she made a lot of money!

Martinique was by far my favorite port. I would like to go back and spend more time someday. Rather than take a tour, we hooked up with a taxi driver who spoke some English to take us into town. Of course I spoke French to him all of the way. He gave us a great mini-tour and then asked if he could meet us when we were. ready to leave. We made arrangements to meet him at 1:00 pm and sure enough he was there and waiting for us. We shopped for more perfumes, cadeaux (gifts) and wine at La Cave a Vin. I had hoped that La Cave a Vin would be open for lunch but unfortunately it was not. We had a great time picking out some wines and pates. The proprietress had a ten year old daughter who was learning English so we were able to practice our languages on each other much to our mutual delight. Thre French spoken in Martinique is much closer to that spoken in France although they tend to 'tutouyer' (use the familiar tu form) much more quickly than I am used to. After all of our shopping we had some boisson froids (cold drinks) and I put my mom and daughter in a taxi for the ship. My husband and I explored a bit more and then had Salad Niçoise and kirs at a restaurant on the water during a downpour! Just as we were beginning to worry about carrying our box of wine in the rain, it stopped. We hooked up with our taxi driver again and he took us around the town square. We stopped several times to take pictures. We made a brief stop at the terminal duty free shop, where I saw many ship employees buying liquor and cigarettes, and then it was sadly time to return to the ship. I was very sorry to leave our last port.

I found all of the people on all of the islands charming and hospitable. There was none of the buying pressure that I have seen in Mexican ports or especially in Jamacai! Martinique was the cleanest and most sophisticated. I saw lots of people on the ship with braids so there must have been people offering to braid hair at some of the ports but we were never asked.

There was more security getting back on the ship after each port. In addition to using your sail and sign card to identify yourself (you insert in a machine and your picture comes up), you were wanded and all of your carryons had to go through the xray machine. In addition, you were asked to show your ship card in two of the three ports before you were even allowed into the terminal building.

Then it was two more fun days at sea prior to returning to Miami. Frankly the last day was one day too many. Our minds were already back at home by this time and it was difficult to relax and have a good time. Also by this time we had sampled most of the ship's activities and were repeating. I always said I could never get enough of days at sea but I guess that is just not true.

Disembarkation was painless. Of course, finding your luggage in that sea of black bags in that huge room is quite a challenge.

The worst moment of the trip occurred when we arrived home to realize we had left one of our bags at the Cruise Terminal. Frankly, we just lost count, sort of like Home Alone and counting heads. I called Carnival on the way home. They stated that our lost bag would be shipped out the next day via UPS and that we'd get it in 5 to 7 business days. I sure hope so. Our medications and exposed film is on that bag so it would sure be a huge shame to lose it. I'll write to the board and let everyone know if we get it safely or not. I am sure that this happens all of the time and that most people get their bags just fine. Wish us luck everyone.

Also we arrived home to an ice storm in Dallas. It was cold, dark and depressing. It's fortunate that I can relive the cruise by writing this review!

Just a few days later and it already seems like it was just a dream. Now we're thinking about the next group who sailed after us and what they are doing today. Wonder who's in our cabin? And we're starting to dream about that next vacation..Happy Sailing Everyone!

Expand Review
Read More
Write a Review
Results 61 - 70 of 75 45678

Similar Cruise Ships

Elation
Elation
From 54 Reviews
Carnival Legend
Carnival Legend
From 80 Reviews
Carnival Miracle
Carnival Miracle
From 54 Reviews
Carnival Pride
Carnival Pride
From 89 Reviews