by Debbie B
October 2, 2006
Just returned from a 12 day cruise on the Carnival Spirit. This was my first Carnival Cruise and I was pleasantly surprised. I have cruised 9 times but was hesitant to try Carnival due to it's reputation as a "party ship" since my husband and I prefer to not be in a rowdy young crowd. Perhaps the fact that it was a 12 day cruise to Hawaii, it ended up being a much older crowd. The ship was really beautiful and well laid out. I found it easy to get around and find everything. Our balcony cabin was spacious and well appointed, with plenty of storage space. The bed was so comfortable, which I understand now why Carnival actually sells the mattress if you want to buy it.
What was most impressive about the cabin is that it was so soundproof. I never heard anything outside, even when the ship was docking! On other cruises, the noise was sometimes so bad, especially when the seas were rough. The bathroom was even roomier than other ships. Only downfall was there were smokers around our balcony, so when we went outside, we had to deal with 2nd hand smoke. The balcony could have been deeper. Our cabin steward gave us good service and we probably only saw him twice over 12 days. A different towel animal everynight which was a nice touch.
We also had excellent service in the dining room, better than on most cruises. The food was good and nicely presented, and the portions were adequate, not too big. I did find that the beef could have been more tender, filet mignon was chewy, and prime rib was tough as well. There was many times when the food came out and it was different then I expected it. Not bad, just different then what the menu indicated. More gourmet than I prefer, I guess.
The waiters entertained us every night with a different dance or song. Upstairs, the Lido buffet was very well designed with different stations for certain foods, a deli station, a grill station, a salad station, etc. It was nice not to all be crowded in one area, you usually did not wait in line long and you had plenty of tables to sit at. It was the best buffet layout I have seen on any of the ships.
The entertainment was on par with other ships I have been on. Usually you have a choice of the Las Vegas revue or a one man show, but on this cruise, you didn't have a choice. Actually the best show was on the last night, when they took cruise passengers who were part of the karaoke nights and made stars out of them in a Carnival Legends show. It was completely choreographed and included the dancers and the costumes were great. Lots of talent!
The ports were good but we had to tender into Kona and Maui, and this was the worse part of the trip. Getting back on the tenders was a nightmare and some people had to wait in line for 2 hours. Part of that was due to the security measures but with two ships in port, only one could tender at a time, which made for a long wait. Waited too long to book some of the popular tours thinking we could get them on our own, this was our mistake. We had five days at sea and disembarked in Ensenada. Then had to bus it back to San Diego for 70 miles. Very depressing seeing dirty Mexico after beautiful Hawaii. Had to get off buses at border, walk through customs and reboard buses. That adds lots of time. Little kids panhandling as you stood in line, very sad!
When we arrived at San Diego airport, we discovered that some of our luggage was dropped off with another bus and left on sidewalk. Not a good system. We had to walk quite a ways to go find our missing luggage which anyone could have picked up!
Other than those final problems, it was a great trip and we all enjoyed our Hawaii cruise.