by Terry Ullman
February 13, 2005
The Spirit is a very nice ship and this was our second time on her with a different itinerary. Embarkation was a breeze compared to other ports we had left from. We were at the port by 10:30am and on the ship by 11:45. Within an hour of being on the ship one of the bar staff informed us that the main show lounge would be closed for the entire cruise. This announcement was made to all passengers at dinner the first night. They tried to make it sound like this would be a good thing for us with more entertainment throught different parts of the ship. Each table was given a color and a schedule when your main show would be each evening. Confusing as one night your show would be at 8:30p, next at 9:45, then 10:30 at night. Some times it was in the Verailles lounge, somtimes on the Lido deck (which was cold, especially on formal nights and they refused to close the glass roof) and other times in a small lounge. The first night the room was overfull with standing room only, but as the week went on, there were shows with only 30 people at them. I think people gave up and quit going and for older people like our table mates which were elderly, it was too late for them. When we went to the pursers desk to inquire as to why carnival didn't inform passengers ahead of time to give them the opportunity to change cruises or go at a different date, they said this just came up. Have a hard time believing this wasn't known a week or two before the cruise.
The entertainment is a big part of what you pay for and they offered nothing to passengers in way of compensation. On a positive note a couple of the comedians were excellent. Food service and quality appears to have gone down on Carnival. Since they have went to automatic tipping,the service staff are not near as attentive as they were in the past. Rooms were clean and tidy, but we only seen our room steward 2 - 3 times the entire 8 day cruise.
Ports of call - Aculpuca was interesting, lots to do - we hired a taxi for $80.00 for 7 hrs and he took us all over and waited for us when we were in the markets, at the beach, cliff divers and bought us beer to drink when driving around. He spoke very good english and gave us a lot of history of the city and country. We hired him ourselves once we got off the ship. he did a great job and we left him a big tip for his service. Zihautanjo was next port and we absolutely loved it. It still retains the charm of a mexican fishing village with colorful markets, friendly people and we will definetely come back here to stay. We spent the afternoon on the beach eating authentic meican food cooked in a little stall on the beach and drinking buckets of beer. Our bill at the end of the day was $23.00. Sand was nice with very clear warm water. Went parasailing for $25.oo and got some fantastic pictures from up in the air. Don't bother going over to Ixtapa as it is americanized hotels and over priced shopping. Buy in Zee. Manzanilla is a port the ship should skip. It's a port city with not much for shopping and it cost lots of money to get anywhere there by taxi. No shopping at the pier. Beaches were ok, but water much colder than in the other two ports. Carnival should pick another port. We did not ship excursions as we have cruised enough to know you can get the same thing off the ship much cheaper. I like my sea days and I wish carnival would leave the hot tubs open past 10pm. Often this is when it would be nice to sit in them , relaxand look at the stars. Ship was full but never seem crowded. Cruise director was fantastic, best one we have encountered, he was out and about talking to everyone. Also the maitre d' was the best yet also, he was always coming by your table each evening to talk and inquire as to how you were enjoying everything. Usually you only see them their last night when they want their tip. Very very disappointed with the main show lounge being closed and not told till after we were on ship. This was our 4th carnival cruise and will most likely go back to another cruise line for our next cruise.