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Shore Excursions
Ken Montgomery

Age: 62

Occupation:Civil Engineer

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: 2009-07-15

Itinerary: Alaska South Bound Inside Passage

My wife and I took the 7-day Alaska cruise on Carnival Spirit, departing from Whittier, Alaska on July 1, 2009. We had good weather (mostly sunny with highs in the 60s and 70s) for the first 6 days of the cruise. The week before the weather was overcast and wet with highs in the high 50's. We have been on many cruises and this one had the best scenery and wildlife, far better than the South American Cape Horn (2 week) trip. Everyone talks about dressing in layers, which is so true, wear jeans and sweatshirts and jackets and walking shoes. Don't forget a hat and gloves, if you plan on going out on boat rides. Be prepared for rain with raincoat and rain pants. When it rains, it often rains sideways with high winds, so umbrellas are often useless.

The ship was well organized and well run and the crew was great. The cruise director Chris was funny and he even sings in the disco sometimes. The food was good and there was plenty to do on the ship. We'll definitely cruise on Carnival again.

The main dining room food was really good. Don't be afraid to order something else if you don't like something that you ordered. The wine is reasonably priced and service was very good. The food is all loaded on the ship in Vancouver for two one-week cruises, so don't expect fresh, wild salmon. We asked the Maitre De for some fresh, wild salmon one night and we saw it being delivered to the ship in Ketchikan and everyone at our table had it that night, it was so much better than the "Atlantic Salmon" (farm raised) that the ship carries.

If you can, take the late seating (early seating is 6:00 pm, late seating is 8:15) - many shore excursions return to the ship after 6:00 pm and you'll want time to get cleaned up for dinner. If you miss your appointed time for dinner, you can always queue up for "anytime" seating in the main dining room or eat dinner at the buffets on deck 9.

The La Playa Grill food was usually good, there are about 8 stations with different kinds of food. It looks crowded at breakfast and lunch but the short lines you'll wait thru are way faster than eating in the main Dining room. The made to order oblates were great, much better than in the main dining room. There were many choices of food, the pizza is good, the salad bar will produce a far better salad than you can order off the menu. The Asian counter is good. The hamburger and hotdog counters were busy, so the food must have been good. They had a featured country food that changed each day. Italian was the best. You can take your food to the outside deck right outside the restaurant and get a great view and fresh air with less noise.

The Suite was a very nice room, with a wonderful king bed and plenty of closets and drawers. The room had a nice desk and sofa and coffee table and there was a dressing table outside of the bathroom. The room is equipped with 220 and 110 power, although the power point next to the desk was a 220 outlet, not handy for using your laptop, bring a converter and 2 prong adapter if you want to watch DVDs on your computer from the sofa or bed. The TV is useful for seeing the ship's position and for listening to ship programs and announcements. It carries CNN and FOX news, but no sports channels. The naturalist will make announcement about wildlife sightings and glaciers on channel 15. There is a free safe is in the room. We brought a power strip so we could plug in all of our chargers (cameras, laptops and cell phones)

The balcony has 4 chairs and a small table. You'll need to wear a jacket while the ship is moving. We had a left or port cabin thinking we would see more stuff on this side than the other side, I don't think we did and the sun rose into our windows each morning before 5:00 am, so maybe a starboard cabin would have been better. The only time you see glaciers up close from the Spirit is the first morning south bound (6am) and both sides get their views as the ship spends extra time near the glaciers.

There was good casino action, plenty of lounge singing to listen to, activities going on all over the ship.

We really liked shore excursions that were Wildlife Watching Boat rides, you really get to see the amazing things in Alaska up close. When the captain finds some whale activity, they will stay with the whales as long as they can.

The Alaskan scenery was amazing, particularly when we took shore excursions on smaller vessels. The ship was well run, the service was friendly and efficient, the food was good and getting on & off the ship was easy. There were plenty of shore excursions available on the ship or you could book your own trips, which we did 4 times during and before the trip. The suite was wonderful, with plenty of closets and drawers. We will sail Carnival again.

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