Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Spirit
Sailing Date: September 22nd, 2004
Itinerary: Repositioning Cruise - Vancouver to Hawaii
We chose Carnival because of the itinerary out of Vancouver (where we live), because it went to Hawaii, and because Airmiles allowed us to use Airmiles to get the cruise for half price. The only complaint I had about the entire cruise was about where the cabin was located. Our cabin was located on the first (Riviera) deck. The cabin itself was great. Lots of room, a king size bed, room for one more if they lowered the bunk bed that is hidden in the roof above the sofa. The bed is a 4 inch mattress on movable bed frames. This allows two doubles to be created for travelers arriving in pairs. For those with kids or parents in tow, the drop down bunks are the same mattress, but living accommodation would be pretty tight. The room had a nice large window that was always dirty. Located two stories up from the ocean, there was little chance of getting ‘wave wet’. Lots of storage in the rooms, three closets provide ample room for about 15 change of clothes per person. Four large drawers, and two smaller ones provide even more storage. Under night table closets, a small closet below the TV, large pull out drawers under the couch, plenty of room under the beds for luggage, souvenirs and more round out the storage. TIP: There is a good hair dryer in the room, so no need to bring your own. TIP: There is only one electrical outlet in the room. A previous review suggested bringing a splitter and/or extension cord which we did. It worked great! There is an outlet in the bathroom for shavers. TIP: Bring a sound machine or other device that makes noise or music or sounds so you can sleep. Or bring ear plugs.
The cabin was located right under ‘Club Cool’, which provided music till around 12:45am most nights. The worst part was the music was always the same, every night. The same duo played the same very danceable / sing along songs every night. Had I figured this out early, I would have asked for a room further down the boat. Oh well, considering we weren’t getting to bed until around that time or later anyway, it only bothered us a few nights.
Rooms without the balconies are hot. There is air conditioning but for some reason the air doesn’t come out fast. Thus the rooms are always warm, particularly if your side of the ship is on the side that is in the sun all day. Consider that when booking your itinerary and your room.
First floor rooms were great to get everywhere with. One floor up was all the main restaurants, shops, bars and entertainment. We didn’t feel like we missed anything, other than a balcony, being on the first floor. The state room service was awesome.
The Spirit is a pretty ship. The 9 story atrium dominates your entrance onto the boat. Pink glass atop the dome along with stain glass everywhere. Live piano music filters up to the top levels. The main eating and entertainment decks (2 & 3) feature lots of oak wood, marble, glass, stained glass, leather furniture, drapes, and art. Very European. Lots of class.
For dining you have 2 main options and 2 secondary options. The 2 main options are the Empire Dining Room (decks 2 and 3 aft) and the La Playa Grille (deck 9 midship). Carnival still offers assigned seating for dinner. We asked for the early time (5:45pm) and got the late time by mistake (8:15pm). Instead of changing it we stuck with it and were glad we did. This gave us the full day to play and eat at our leisure, then eat, then go watch the shows. Carnival’s food menu is quite expansive offering 5 to 7 appetizers, 5 to 6 main entrees, a Spa menu (low carb, low fat) and 4 to 5 desserts nightly. The menu options seemed to get better as the cruise went on. The food was fabulous, with very few complaints heard from any one else. TIP: assigned seating may put you at a table where there are many guests and not enough servers. Ask to be moved to less busy areas. The maitre d’ is very gracious and the staff magnificent servers. The busier areas are a bit slower. We were lucky to have a corner, non busy area where service was fantastic. TIP: ask for multiple entrees and/or appetizers and/or desserts. They will never say no. One night they served Alaskan King Crab perfectly cooked. One table asked for 6 servings!
The La Playa Grille offers four different buffet stations along with multiple drink stations. Buffets follow different nations each day, with excellent Thai, Mexican, and other themed meals. The standard fare is also offered including hams, beef, mashed potatoes and more.
TOO BAD: Sodas (Coke, Pepsi etc) are not included with the cruise and cost extra. On deck and in the restaurants you can get a truly good lemonade, apple juice, orange juice, instant coffee, tea, iced tea and iced water.
TIP: All the water on the boat is as good as bottled water. Ocean water is taken run over the engine heat and instantly boiled. The steam is collected on cooling rods and the condensation collected for water to drink and bathe in.
Breakfast is served in the La Playa Grille and in the Empire Room and consists of all regular breakfast foods. French Toast was scrumptious. Having fresh milk (whole, skim and 1% chocolate, available all the time was nice too. Lunch is served in the La Playa Grille and in the Empire Room (the latter only during days at sea). Lunch follows the themes of the evening food.
TIP: The New York Grille offers Corned Beef, Pastrami and Reuben sandwiches that are grilled. Very good food. They also serve turkey and tuna sandwiches. Open daily 11am to 11pm. Very good choice! A 24 hour pizza joint offers very average pizza.
The 2 secondary options for eating is in your room, where room service is truly fantastic. The other option is to eat at their Nouveau Supper Club located on deck 10 and 11. Reservations are required for the Club and does cost an extra $25 US per person. Whether it is worth it is up to your taste buds. They serve 24 ounce porterhouse, 9 ounce lobster tails, surf and turf (9 oz filet with 6 oz lobster tail), amazing soups, and desserts. A singing duo and a dance floor adorns the eating area. TIP: Ask for the upper level overlooking the water.
Carnival has been called the entertainment cruise line but only some of their shows were awesome. The house band, house dancers and large production shows were truly spectacular. Three were offered over the 12 day cruise but the first one, a tribute to Broadway was amazing. Get there early for front row seats. Other shows tossed in included John “Hollywood Squares” Davison, an adult comedy hypnotist, several comedians, a magician, and a tribute band to the Temptations. Some were good, some were not so good. But considering you have no where else to go, and its included, it’s pretty good entertainment. TIP: Look for the nights when the band plays in the Versailles lounge. Very intimate setting with great band talent.
Most entertainment is offered in the Pharoahs lounge with a scant few events in the more intimate Versailles lounge. The former offers comfortable Vegas lounge like seating with an upper level with large theatre seats. Careful about the glass railings blocking your view. Check before you sit down!
Several bars exist on ship including the Shanghai bar (sing along piano bar), Club Cool (aforementioned dancing with 80’s and 90’s rock), the Atrium bar (easy listening piano tunes), the Casino (country music), the Deco lounge (jazz and classical piano and strings) and the Disco (pure rock and dance music).
Tours offered were all popular and very well organized. Tours are for those that don’t want venture out and do things on your own. The cruise line uses scare tactics like “if you’re late, we’re not waiting for you!”. Recommend setting up rental cars at each stop. Car rental companies like http://www.discounthawaiicarrentals.com/ will set up unbelievable rates for you. I had a $25/day rate for a car in Honolulu. Closer to departure they emailed me back with an even better deal on the same car ($20.57/day).
Carnival likes to upsell. From photographers at every turn taking your picture and then trying to sell it back to you, to the Supper Club, to the can of Coca-Cola in your fridge, they are trying to upsell you are every turn.
Overall the cruise was fantastic. 5 days at sea was incredible. To be so far away from life, and surrounded by water so blue, was 100% relaxing. We saw dolphins dancing in the waves while off the Kona coast, the moon setting over Mauna Loa as we approached Hilo, and so much more. Regardless of the little hiccups, the experience was tremendous.