Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Spirit
Sailing Date: May 23rd, 2006
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Spirit Cruise Review
Exotic Mexican Rivera
We just returned from a highly anticipated Alaskan cruise. We had to cancel this same cruise two years ago due to my wife having a major illness. This time, we had a group of seven, ranging in age from 51 to 73. We came from Alabama, Arizona, Ohio and Kentucky. Three of our group had never cruised before.
My wife and I booked one of the Penthouse suites, 8268, with a wrap-around balcony. It is a little unhandy getting home at night, being on the back corner of the ship, but for the Alaskan cruise it is perfect. The balcony is almost four times the size of a normal balcony. The others booked outside cabins and shared our balcony. These particular suites have a bedroom you can close off for privacy, a sitting area with a sofa and two chairs, a separate dressing area, walk-in closet and a bathroom complete with whirlpool tub. I don't think I would pay the extra for a Caribbean cruise, but when we arrived at Harvard Glacier, we could see it for nearly the entire stay, then view it as we sailed away.
My wife and I flew from New Orleans to DFW, then direct to Anchorage on American Airlines. We had booked through the Carnival fly away program and I never book without taking the vacation protection. When we arrived at DFW, we arrived at gate C36. We were told on the plane that we would depart at gate C15. When we arrived at gate C15, the area was empty. We checked at the next kiosk and found we should be at gate D15. We had to hurry then on their Sky Link to terminal D. We arrived with 20 minutes to spare, I only wish my luggage had received the correction as well. We rode the Alaska Railway train from Anchorage to Whittier instead of the bus. We had bus tickets included in our package price, but the train ride was well worth the extra $55.
When we arrived in Anchorage, we were paged and told our luggage would be delivered the next day on the 8 PM flight to Anchorage. The only problem was, the ship left the next night from Whittier at 9 PM, 65 miles from the Anchorage airport. American flew my luggage to Sitka. When we got on board, I visited the purser's desk and they arranged to have my luggage brought from the Sitka airport to the ship. I had the pair of jeans I had traveled in and two shirts, my wife had the pants suit she had traveled in and one pair of jeans. We went shopping onboard and bought some nice Carnival Spirit clothes, thanks to the vacation protection plan.
The Spirit is a beautiful ship, on par with the Golden Princess we sailed on a few years ago. I am not going into detail about the ship, just some of the people.
We have sailed on quite a few ships, but on this trip we had the best room steward and stewardess we have ever had. My wife and I both celebrated our birthdays on board. Our steward and stewardess, Milena and Alexander, decorated our room for us for our birthday. What an unexpected surprise. Due to her illness, my wife has a little difficulty cutting meat, our waiter noticed this the first night. After the first night, as he delivered her plate, he graciously cut her meat for her.
The ports on this itinerary are outstanding. At Sitka, several of our group did the semi-submersible in the morning. They all agreed this would be better in the Caribbean, there is a little too much silt in the Alaska water for good visibility. In the afternoon, we all did the Sitka tour with the Russian Dancers. This is a great tour and the dancers shouldn't be missed. They are all female, even the male dances and all volunteers.
At Juneau, four of us did the helicopter flight and walk-about to the Mendenhall Glacier. What a magnificent tour, our pilot, Brad, knew the area extremely well and narrated all the time that he didn't have to be on the radio. While we were on the glacier, my niece actually lied face down on the glacier and drank from a melt runoff. Of course, I was more proper and drank from a film container. We booked this tour directly with Temsco Helicopters at temscoair.com. We had to be picked up about 1/4 mile away, due to Carnival booking flights with the same company. We felt we received more personal attention, we were picked up and dropped off by a company van instead of riding a bus. Plus, we saved a good bit of money by booking direct. In the afternoon, we rode up Mount Roberts on the tram and enjoyed that also.
At Skagway, we took two tours, both booked through Carnival. In the morning we did the Skagway street car ride. Our driver was L.C., a member of the Skagway City Council. She has lived in Skagway fifteen years and is a delight. Her best line was about her Mom asking about her chances of marrying, living there. She told her Mom, "the odds are good, but the goods are odd." In the afternoon, we rode the White Pass and Yukon railway. If you don't do anything else in Skagway, don't miss this ride. The Travel Channel recently had a special on scenic railways in America and this was rated #1.
In Ketchikan, we had probably the best excursion I have ever been on in all my cruising. The only thing that ranks close is seeing the Grand Canyon. We booked the Misty Fjord National Monument flight with Sea Wind Aviation. They have a website seawindaviation.com. On their site, there is a link to a write up by Tom Ogg, which is where I decided to book this. Tom wrote a very good article, but didn't praise this young couple enough. Their names are Steve and Lesley Kamm. Lesley picked the 5 of us up at the dock and drove us the short distance to their office and floatplane. Tony and I had always wanted to fly in a DeHavilland Beaver and Steve has a 1959 model. The flight was magnificent, but Steve and Lesley made us feel as if we had known them for years. I know in may heart that we were just some more passengers, but they made us feel so special that it made a lifetime memory. They have a limited number of reservations available, of course. If you are one of the groups lucky enough to get to meet and fly with these young people, you will feel the same way.
Our flight home was uneventful, my luggage even came along for the trip. A friend of mine is taking the Spirit Northbound in three weeks. Yesterday he asked if I would go back, I told him to change the names on his tickets and I would pack immediately.