by Joyce T
September 7, 2005
This was my 4th sailing on the Carnival Spirit and was by far the best. In the previous 3 years, embarkation was the absolutely worst I have ever been through (in more than 30 cruises). You would think that Carnival had never loaded 2000 passengers onboard a ship before. This year, I am delighted to say, they had their act together and we were onboard in record time. The "cattle call" and conflicting instructions given by staff at embarkation were things of the past. All instructions were clear and everyone was surprised by how smoothly it all went.
I do love this ship. I scrimp and save to get a balcony cabin every year and it is worth every penny. The cabins on the Spirit are terrific - spacious with all Carnival ammenities (dish of sample toiletries, hair dryer, disposable razors, etc.)
This year, I was delighted to find a surprising new Cruise Director, Michael Mullane. Michael, from England, was warm, friendly and genuine. Of all of the cruises I've been on, he ranks up with the best (certainly in the same league as John Heald of the Glory and Liberty). His fresh take on the "old, tired" Carnival games (trivia and such) is wonderful. He also gives an orientation talk for those who have never cruised before which is terrific since many in my group were first-time cruisers. What an idea! Tell people what to expect! Wow! Keep it up Michael!
The typical Carnival shows are really not my cup of tea - too much energy - it just wears me out to watch all that clapping and stepping. This cruise, I just enjoyed the atmosphere of the ship and skipped the shows but the folks I traveled with said they were great.
The ports on the Alaska Glacier Bay cruise are always delightful too. Juneau is great for critter watching (whales, seals, eagles, etc.) Skagway is a great walk-around town. The White Pass and Yukon railway trip is well worth the money and the Ghosts and Goodtime Girls walking tour is also quite fun. You can't get the Ghosts tour except from Carnival so buy it onboard if that sounds like your cup of tea. The folks I traveled with raved about all of the tours except the Jeep excursion.
I heard some complaints about the food on board the Carnival Spirit. I'm not so picky and I loved all meals but some of the folks I traveled with said that the food during the first few days of the cruise was sub-standard. If folks tell me they are real food gourmets, I usually try to steer them away from Carnival. But if they just plain like good food (and lots of it), then Carnival can usually deliver.
Some of the chaos we avoided at embarkation caught up with us for debarkation - with several people telling us to go in several different directions - but we'd had a great cruise so we just closed our eyes and remembered the previous week until we made it through the mess at debarkation.
I'm also happy to say that they've toned down the Carnival Vacation Club sales pitches. Last year, it was announced morning, noon and night but this year, it was rather subdued. So much so, that I stopped by to see what it was all about. I mentioned to the folks casually that I was already booked on another Carnival Ship and that I would think about it and maybe sign up in October, it was as if I'd passed gas in church. Once they realized that they weren't going to get a commission from me, well, they didn't want anything to do with me.
I'd highly recommend the Carnival Spirit to anyone who wants to go to Alaska. I prefer the Glacier Bay route because it's round trip out of Vancouver. The rest of the year, you either go Northbound one way or Southbound one way and you have to deal with flying into one airport and out of another. I just don't think Anchorage and Sitka were worth the added expense in airline tickets.