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Nancy Ranstead

Age: 56


Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: 2009-05-27

Itinerary: Northbound inside passage to Whitier

Overall, we enjoyed our cruise with Carnival.

We found our room to be comfortable and quiet even though we were on the lowest deck.

We found the entertainment to be excellent on some evenings and acceptable on other evenings. The food was good to acceptable. The itinerary was excellent. The ship's naturalist did a fantastic job of letting us know when there were points of interest and wildlife.

My main complaint is the dirty windows that made viewing and picture taking difficult, and the inefficient embarkation and debarkation process. We also did not like the assigned dinning. We prefer to eat when we want and with whom we want. Have cruised twice previously with NCL but decided to try Carnival since their itinerary was more appealing to us than NCL's. I beleive NCL to be a better choice in cruise lines, and the freestyle cruising is much superior. However, we did have a great time on Carnival.

Food in the dinning room was always good, but not excellent. Portions are small. Take as much bread as you will want the first time it comes around, because it won't be offered again. Drinks, other than water, are not offered unless you request them. The wine steward approached us the first evening and when we declined that evening, we never saw her again. There were a couple nights that I would have enjoyed a glass of wine.

Desserts in the dinning room were good. The buffet was also good with a large variety. It was difficult to figure out at first where everything is. Nice salads and fresh fruit. Pizza was OK, but not great. Pizza was not readily available and usually had to ring a bell and wait for staff to serve you a piece, if any was available. Often it had to be prepared. Some evenings you can get fresh made pasta with your choice of sauce from the pizzaria, however, it is made per request, requiring a wait.

We searched one night for the mexican food and finally found it outside at the burger and fries stand. We got there just in time to find them putting everything away. We did not have a good experience with fish on the ship. It all tasted fishy. If you go to Anchorage, stop for fresh fish there. We had a delicious fresh Halibut sandwich and fries at a little cafe next to the cruise ship port in Whittier. Soft serve ice cream available 24/7 was nice. Desserts at the buffet were good to horrible. The cheese cake was very good, but many items tasted the same and the taste was not good. I noticed many people eating burgers and hot dogs from the outside grill. We do not eat either items, but they looked good and we did find the fries were good. When the buffet is not open, deli sandwiches are available and we found them to be average. To summarize, we found the dinning room food to be good, but hated the assigned seating. We found the buffet food to be good most of the time. We never went hungry. We also did not try the steak restaurant due to the additional $30.00 charge. For the cost of the cruise, we can't complain.

Our room was on the lowest deck. We were concerned about noise due to the restaurant and casino being directly above us. We never heard a sound and slept like babies. The room was comfortable and always spotless. The staff were very courteous and went out of their way to address you by your first name. We have no complaints with our room and found it to be comparable to our staterooms on NCL.

Since we have now found ourselves in the "Senior" catagory, we have also found that what we primarily are looking for is rest and relaxation. We really did not participate in any activities, and cannot comment. It did seem that there were many activities going on throughout the days at sea if you were interested. We tried to go to the evening shows, however, we had the late dinner seating and the shows did not begin until 10:30. When you factor in the 4 hour difference in time from our home in the midwest, we "Seniors" had trouble staying awake. We did enjoy the performing arts troup an found them to be excellent. Some other nights were good. I recommend the Blues Brothers. We both fell asleep on a couple of the other nights. I guess the entertainment on those nights was just not interesting enough to keep us awake.

I would highly recommend Southeast tours in Skagway. Ask for British Barry as your tour guide. He did an excellent job of showing us around Skagway. On a scale of 1-5, I give this a 5. A park ranger also gives a very informative walking tour of Skagway, lasting approx. one hour. I give this a 4 and this tour is free. We did not book a single tour through the cruise line. We found them to all be overpriced. I saved money by going on-line and booking our own excursions. I booked a Duck Tour in Ketichican. It was inexpensive and we received some interesting narration. I give the Duck Tour a 3 1/2. Took a bus from the cruise port in Juneau up to Mendenhall Glacier for only $14.00 per person. The driver did not provide any narration, but what can you expect for $14.00. We walked to the Raptor Center is Sitka. It is about a one mile walk and well worth it. The center cost $12.00 to enter, but it is worth it and goes to a very good cause. Picked up walking tour information in every port and spent hours just walking and seeing the sights. This is an inexpensive way to go and helps work off all the calories from meals eaten on board the ship.

We very much enjoyed our trip.

Pros: We had a nice stateroom which was spotless, well appointed and quiet. Stewards were courteous. Food was good and plentiful. Entertainment was good to acceptable. Cleanliness of entire ship was good. Ship was brightly decorated and entertaining. Adequate space on deck for viewing.Food was mostly good and plentiful. Ports of call were all great. Loved Michelle the ships naturalist. Loved the soft serve ice cream.

Cons: Embarkation and disembarkation. Bad going both directions. Assigned seating for dinner-hated it. Dirty windows that needed cleaning. Windows made it difficult to view and take pictures. All of our pictures taken through the windows have visible streaks.

We very much enjoyed our cruise and feel it was a good value for what we paid. However, if we cruise again, we will return to NCL.

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