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Ron & Sally Seta

Age: 58

Occupation:Engineer

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: April 17th, 2003

Itinerary: Baja, Mexico

Embarkation: We arrived at the Port of San Diego cruise terminal at approximately 1:00 PM. The ship was to set sail at 5:00 PM (but didn’t depart until around 10:00 PM). The line was extremely long and the wait was 1 1/2 hours standing in line. No one had offered to take our luggage outside, we were sort of pushed along, and ended up carrying it all with us. After going inside the terminal building, I had asked about it being checked and was told to just carry it up to the counter and they would check. I thought that was rather odd, but proceeded to do so. I later found out that it could have, and should have, been checked outside. Total miscommunication.

Upon entering the lobby of the ship, my first impression was it smelled of stale cigarette smoke, and I thought the decor was rather gloomy and drabby looking. I like brighter colors than that of this ship. But if you’d look closely to the detail, it was rather impressive, and definitely did have some very fine touches to appreciate. There were different themes throughout the ship which were also done quite nicely. But overall, personally, I just didn’t find the decor appealing or uplifting.

Room: We booked an outside room on the Riviera deck. Upon entering the room it was very stuffy and smelled of the sewer. We figured the unpleasant smell would eventually subside, as maybe the ship had been cooped up during its previous long trip from Miami to San Diego and needed airing out. However, the smell remained throughout the trip. The room was very noisy at night while trying to sleep. There was a lot of banging and clanking going on. We saw very little of our room steward who seemed somewhat unsociable. There was nothing exceptional about his service on this trip. On the positive side, Carnival’s rooms are fairly roomy, the bed was comfortable, and the shower was large enough that you didn’t have the plastic curtain constantly rubbing up against your back. There’s plenty of closet space and drawers to place your belongings.

Entertainment: This ship had the worst entertainment I had ever seen on a cruise ship. On our previous cruises, having sailed aboard the Carnival Holiday, Carnival Triumph, RC Legend of the Seas, RC Vision of the Seas, the entertainment had been superb. I don’t know what happened on this cruise, but couldn’t believe how badly the vocals were from two of the singers on the ship, not to mention the rest of the entertainment on board.

Food: I have no complaints about the food on this ship. There was a variety and was exceptionally good. The bartenders made great drinks as well.

Staff: I did not find the staff very friendly or personable. On previous cruises it seemed the staff would go out of their way to be accommodating. It didn’t seem that any of the staff smiled too much, except there were a few of course. It seemed they were just there to do a job and that was it.

Dining: The dining room was somewhat glitzy, but again, I found it drabby. I had requested a table for 8 to 10 persons because my husband and I like to socialize with others, but was surprised when we were seated at a table for 2, facing across from each other. It felt a little on the lonely side, although I’m sure there may be people who would have enjoyed having that table. We like to sit directly next to each other when dining, so this was not comfortable for us at all. But we made the best of it, and did not return to that dining room again. (You can request a different table if you’re not satisfied, however, but because we were only on for three nights, we decided to just forget it and not make a big deal out of it.) The 2nd night, we had dinner at the buffet, and the 3rd night at the Supper Club.

Supper Club: We did do the Supper Club thing, and what a rip off that was. It certainly wasn’t worth the $50.00 extra we paid, plus the cost of caviar at the cost of 29.00 plus 15% gratuity. However, the food was good, the ambiance was very nice, the service was excellent, but eating in the dining room would have been just as good (if we had had seating with other people or a booth). We were seated upstairs where we could not see the singer, we could only hear her. She did have a nice voice and was quite pleasant, but I would have preferred to be seated closer to the stage. All in all, it was okay, but I would not pay for it again.

Ensenada: We opted to walk to town instead of taking a shuttle or taxi or horse buggy ride. There is plenty of restaurants and shopping. I love to go to Ensenada to eat. The Mexican food there is so much better than in the States. We had lunch at Papa’s and Beer. The tacos, chips and avocado dip was so good!! Not to mention the drinks!

Tipping: Just a few words of caution to others out there who are not familiar with cruising: please take the time to read and understand the information given to you in your brochures that are sent to you before you go aboard, because once Carnival gets your credit card and issues you your “Sail & Sign” card, you’ll have automatic charges for things you haven’t a clue. For example, I didn’t know that they would add on a 15% gratuity to a bottle of wine at a dinner seating, add 15% gratuity to the dining room waiters, staff and room steward. So we ended up eating at the Supper Club, while still paying gratuity to the main dining room as well. And when we left the ship, we tipped our room steward a hefty amount, not knowing he was already being tipped from the amount charged to my credit card. And, of course, there is always an added 15% gratuity to all alcoholic beverages. So be aware!!! You might get a seemingly great room rate, but you’ll get dollared to death and ripped off with every other little thing if you’re not well informed and careful!!

Overall, this was a pleasant weekend getaway experience. The weather was good. But I’m glad I was not on this ship for any longer. I did notify Carnival of the charges on my invoice, and politely vented my dissatisfaction. They did offer an 10% discount on our next Carnival cruise, however, I think I’ll pass! I would rather cruise on RCCL or Princess next time. No more Carnival for me! It’s true, once you go RCCL, you won’t want to go back to Carnival! But that’s our experience. I certainly hope the best trip for everyone because you’re paying for it and you deserve it!!!! I can’t wait for our next cruise!

Good luck and Have Fun!!!!!

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