November 12, 2010
This was my 2nd cruise on Carnival and 12th cruise overall. This cruise was an 8-day Mexico Riviera cruise round trip out of San Diego, CA. I cruised solo on this cruise, as part of a travel agent FAM trip.
I flew into San Diego the morning of the cruise. I normally fly in to the departure city the day before, but since I was solo and the weather not usually an issue at this time of the year, I chanced it and just flew in on departure day. No problems as I arrived at around 10:30 am and took a very short taxi ride to the pier. Getting onto the ship was a bit of an adventure. Because my taxi dropped me off outside the pier, I had a 15 minute wait in line to show my ID and Carnival boarding pass just to get on the pier. After getting through the initial security, I had to wait in line again to drop off my bags to a luggage porter. I then had to wait in line again and show my ID and Carnival boarding pass just to get into the building to check-in. After this security line, as soon as I got into the building, there was a holding area and another line AGAIN for an ID and boarding pass check just to get access to the metal detectors and security which was yet another line! I have now passed through 5 lines, including 3 to check my ID and boarding pass. I have now stood in line for over an hour and I haven’t even made it to the check-in line yet! After my check-in, I had to wait for my “boarding zone” to be called. It turned out to be 6 lines, 2 holding areas and an hour and a half from when I arrived at the pier at about 11 am to my stepping onto the ship.
The Carnival Spirit was launched in 2001. The Spirit is a very nice and elegant ship. She’s kind of a dark ship with mostly dark brown and wood paneling like walls with not a lot of interior lighting. The main decks are #2, #3 and #9, they run the length of the ship and most every public area you will want are on these 3 decks. The main dining room is in the aft portion of decks 2 & 3, so unlike some other Carnival ships where the main dining room is in the middle of the ship, you can move easily around the ship without needing to go up or down decks to get from one end to the other. There are 3 major pools with hot tubs nearby on deck 9. A nice sports area complete with jogging track, mini-golf course, and an enclosed basketball court. The crew is very good at cleaning and maintaining the ship. Everything was kept clean and well maintained on the ship.
I had a roomy ocean view stateroom on deck 1. My cabin had a nice picture window, a comfy queen sized bed, and adequate closet space. The bathroom was a typical shower only with a shower curtain, not doors.
The staff was the highlight of the cruise with their service. Our room steward and wait staff were great, and all the crew and staff did a good job. I was very pleased with the staff onboard.
While I enjoyed the food, the one complaint I have is way too much sea food on the menu, and very little basic meat and potatoes or simple pasta dishes. I used the lido buffet for breakfast and lunch, and enjoyed the service and food.
This was a not a port intensive cruise. This was an 8 day cruise with only 3 ports. All 3 ports are being dropped from future Carnival itineraries for the time being. The 1st stop was Acapulco, Mexico. I took a short, half-day tour called “City Tour”. I got to see the famous cliff divers, then we were shown around the city with stops for shopping and picture taking. The 2nd stop was in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. Here I had secured a day pass for the Club Med in Ixtapa and spent the day enjoying the pool, drink and food of the resort. The last stop was in Manzanillo, Mexico. I exited the ship and just walked around the shopping district for an hour or so. All 3 ports have rated so low by past Carnival passengers, that Carnival is dropping all 3 in favor of future stops in Cabo, La Paz, and Puerto Vallarta.
I absolutely loved the entertainment venues on the ship. I only took in 1 production show, and enjoyed it very much. However, the best was the Punchliner Comedy Club. Carnival has a dedicated comedy club and changed out the comedians during the port stops to keep the shows fresh. The other entertainment venues were also very good, but I spent a vast majority of my entertainment time in the comedy club.
I decided to use the self-disembarkation for this cruise since I only had 1 piece of luggage and I had an early flight out of San Diego. It was very easy; I ate breakfast in the lido buffet, and then left the cabin at 8:30 am with my luggage. We were delayed in being allowed to disembark due to some non-US passengers that failed to report to the main theater with their passports to clear immigration. US passengers were cleared quickly electronically, so we did not have to stand in any lines and go through immigration. After about a 45 minute delay, the final non-US passenger was cleared and we were finally allowed to disembark. I walked off the ship and after turning in my US Customs form to the US Customs inspector, I grabbed a taxi at the pier and went to the airport for the flight home.
I would rate this cruise a 7.5 out of 10. I really enjoyed the ship, the entertainment, the food and staff was great, however the 3 ports-of-call were not that great and I can see why Carnival is dropping them. My only other complaint is the fact that Carnival fails to enforce the dress code onboard. I saw passengers come into the dining room wearing sleeveless tank top t-shirts, cut off shorts, baseball caps and so on. I even saw one man come in the dining room wearing a bathrobe with no shirt and just shorts underneath one day at lunch! In the buffet, I saw numerous people just wearing swim suits. Many times I saw men walking around with no shirt on inside the ship, I mean really, inside the promenade, the lounges and casino, put a shirt on! I was really disappointed. I thought the Carnival Spirit was a beautiful ship with a fantastic crew and staff, but it really cries out for a better clientele in my opinion. That reason alone will probably mean this was my last cruise on Carnival, which is sad because I really loved the ship.