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Julie Mendenhall

Age: 43

Occupation:Registered Nurse

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: May 17th, 2006

Itinerary: Alaska

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Spirit Cruise Review
Alaska

Julie Mendenhall


We have just returned from a wonderful cruise. We consist of myself (Julie, 42) Randall (Hubby, 45), Randall's Mom and Dad, Phyllis and Russell, hereafter known as Mil and Fil.

Randall and I left our home state of South Carolina on May 13th, taking a 12 hour drive to Indiana. We met up with both of our families in Indiana. We had a wonderful reunion and anxiously awaited May 16th's arrival. May 16th finally arrived. We were up at 0430 for a 0615 arrival at the Indianapolis airport. Finally we were up in the air, after a minor glitch. Friendly advice, get a passport!  Randall and I had one, The Mil and Fil did not! They brought birth certificates and drivers license. Whoops, Mil's name is not married name on birth certificate!!! So off we go to get the driver's license and birth certificate motorized. $8 dollars later we have a piece of paper that says Mil is MIL and off we go.

Vancouver, BC...wow, what a lovely city. The airport was very efficient and Customs was a breeze for Randall and I but not Mil and Fil. Finally after a few minutes (seemed like eons) we were on our way to collect our luggage.

Luggage obtained, we flagged down a "tall van", a van that is able to hold 5 people and the luggage. Whoa...what a ride...that teen driver is playing race cars! Ok, after a near miss with a semi- trailer, we are at our hotel on Robson street.

We stayed at the Times Square Suites. They are very nice rooms, and we had a large 2 bedroom suite. It had 2 bedrooms, one with a queen bed and one with twin beds. It had a fully stocked kitchen, bathroom, living room with TV, stereo, VCR/DVD player and washer/ dryer combo. The room was quiet and cool. The queen bedroom had an A/C but the rest of the suite did not have A/C. FYI -  if it gets cool at night, the A/C is programmed to go to only fan. We did not know this and wondered why the A/C was not on in the AM when we awoke.

Robson street in Vancouver is wonderful. Lots of stores and shops and places to eat. Although, I forgot the name of the restaurant we ate in, it is at the end of Robson street on the left with a view of the water. Very good food and prices reasonable. There is a Safeway grocery store if you need to get soda or water to take on the ship.

Oh my goodness...the day is here to board the beautiful Carnival Spirit! We awoke early and went next door for a nice breakfast. We went back to the suite, gathered our things and checked out. We were outside on the sidewalk in about 65 degree weather ( it had been 76 the day before when we arrived.) Well 10:30 came and went...no taxi. At 11:00 I phoned the receptionist at the suites to inquire about our late taxi. She made a quick phone call and assured us our taxi was on the way. At 11:10 the taxi was there to pick us and our mountain of luggage up. I casually mentioned to the driver that we were going to Canada Place, to board our ship. Huh?? The driver says no you are going to Airport. Ummm no, we are going to board our cruise ship! Ok now the driver is on the same page with us! Yippeee...there is Canada Place, just ahead! We are whisked inside and we really can't see our ship, but we see the famous funnel and know she is there! Gave the porter 2 bucks per bag, he said, "Thank You, but we will get your bags to the ship with or without a tip." Ok...this is not what I have read online. Nevertheless our luggage got on the ship before we did!

Now we go through the Carnival check-in. Yes, we have tickets and Passports (well some of us have passports...again holding up line because no passports!) We get into the next section, which is customs. Breezed through there and went to get sign and sail cards. Done...it is now 11:35. Carnival employee's say sit and we will be called at 12:00 for boarding. 12:10 we are posing for embarkation photo and there she is ...the Carnival Spirit!!! Wow! She is a beautiful ship. Some folks might say glitzy, but we thought she was tasteful and tactful. Ok now we are on board. Came on board at deck 3. Our room is on Main deck Aft. ( Deck 4) We were told the rooms would not be ready until 1:30pm and not to go until then. I knew from being an Alaskan Cruise junkie that most stewards don't mind if you put your carry on in the room. Our stewards were Juan, with assistant Rupert. They did not mind at all if we took our carry on into the room. We passed the rest of our luggage in the main hallway on deck 4, thus the luggage did beat us on board.

We went to the Lido deck to eat after dropping off the luggage. Back to the room we have the rest of the luggage outside the room. Unpacking commences. There is plenty of room for all of our things. The suitcases went under the bed easily. The cabin was 4229 Starboard side. (Mil and Fil had cabin 4231.) The shower was big, the curtain did not cling to us. The balcony was small but adequate to hold 1 lounge chair, 2 upright chairs and a small table. We go exploring around the ship until 4:30pm when the muster drill is to take place. Well...it finally takes place at 5:30 pm as we were supposed to be on our way at 5:30 PM. We were at dock until 6:30 pm due to some travelers getting delayed. ( they had booked transportation through Carnival and the ship was held for them.) 6:30 arrives and off we go!! Under the Lion's gate bridge with Fun ship special in hand...We were on our way to Alaska!! Dinner was at 8:15 pm, We went and met our waitress, Martina and her assistant Monica. Martina took wonderful care of us, Monica was wonderful as well!

The food is good in the Empire dining room and on the Lido deck. All you could drink iced tea, lemonade, fruit punch and coffee, as well as juices. All tuckered out we hit the hay soon after dinner to awake bright and early for our 1st day at sea. May 18th...our day at sea and our first formal dinner. We were up early exploring the ship some more. the Capers was very helpful in knowing what to do and where.

Today is our meet and greet with the CC members as well as The Mil and Fil's 48th wedding anniversary. We had cake and coffee, then went to the meet and greet. Some CC members had come to my cabin to have cake and coffee with us. It was nice to put faces to names!

I went to the port talk and had to leave...the ship had hit 7ft waves and it was making me disoriented. I went back to the cabin and took Bonine and within 30 minutes was fine. By this time it is time to get ready for the formal dinner and Captain's cocktails. We went to the Captain's cocktails where the waiters were going around with trays of complimentary drinks and snacks. Music was being played and couples danced on the stage; Very romantic indeed.

I bought the Anniversary package through Carnival to be delivered in our cabin on embarkation. In this package was a bottle of Champagne. Hubby and I had the bottle of Champagne this night. Followed up by the Formal dinner and photos.

May 19th: Ketchikan, AK.....We booked a tour with Sourdough tours. "Best of Ketchikan." Woody was our tour guide. He was great! We saw the most Eagles I have ever seen in my life! We saw totem poles and stunning scenery. We arrived back on the ship with lots of knowledge of Ketchikan and incredible pictures on our camera.

Tonight we ate in the Nouveau Supper Club. The fee is 30.00 per person and well worth it! Our dinner was complimented by the breaching of a humpback whale! We took our bottle of Shiraz (given in a fruit and cheese basket) to the dinner club. It went well with our entrees. Allow 2.5 to 3 hours for this meal.

May 20th: Juneau, AK.....We took our time getting off the ship today. We had a tour Booked with Temsco helicopters for a Landing and walk around on Mendenhall Glacier at 1145 (tour was not booked through Carnival). We walked to the Red Dog Saloon, and even at 10am it was packed! We were picked up by Temsco right on time and escorted to the Helicopter sight. Given a short video to watch, we were soon fitted with our glacier shoes. They fit right over our shoes and gave grip to the ice. Up, Up and away...wow..wow..wow...The scenery was stunning!!!! We flew around the area and then landed on Mendenhall. This is our surname so we were landing on our glacier! We had 25 min to walk about (guided) and got to drink the water...boy is it ever good!!! All too soon it was back to the helipad so others could come and see what we just saw! Temsco took us back into town and we were starving.

The ship was docked a block away but I wanted Halibut and chips and Alaskan summer ale. Off we went to the Twisted Fish...yum, yum, yum!!!!!! Alaska summer ale is really good and I don't like beer! Halibut is the tastiest fish I have ever eaten (sorry Salmon!). I highly recommend Twisted Fish!

May 21st, Skagway AK We all 4 were supposed to have gone on the WP&YR train ride at 8:15 am ,but MIL got sick on arrival to Juneau and was quarantined in her cabin for 26 hours. So only hubby and I went on the 8:15 train ride. What a site to behold. The Yukon is so pretty. And I saw a black bear asleep and further down I saw a cub...beary cute!! (hubby did not see them as he was outside and did not hear the announcement to "look out the right side!" This is the only excursion that we booked through Carnival. If you book through Carnival the train picks you up at the dock...did this so MIL and Fil won't have to walk far...OH well...Hubby and I did not have to walk far! (Mil and Fil did get to go on afternoon train and did see 3 bears!).

This was our 2nd formal night so after having an Alaskan Summer ale in the Red Onion Saloon, and shopping we hightailed it back to the ship for spiffing up!

May 22nd , Sitka, AK. This was our only tender port. We caught an early tender and got ashore easily. We got the city transit for 20 each, all day pass, we used this several times to get from one area to another. We went to the Alaskan Raptor Center where we met Sitka, Volta and other Raports. It was really neat and a nice gift shop as well. The proceeds stay in the Raptor center so those cute "black diamond" bear shaped earrings and necklace just had to come home with me! (Speaking of Shopping...Ketchikan is your cheapest port for souvenirs.) Next it was off to meet with Kent and Bev from Sitka's Secrets for a 3 hour wildlife tour. The tour ended up being 3.5 hours with tons of wildlife being seen! Starting with Sea Otters in the bay! then Whales and Whales and WHales, Eagles, Puffins and too many other birds to name. We highly recommend Sitka's Secrets. The only downer to today is the tender line to get back on the ship was lonnnngggg. But we got back on board and all was good!

May 23rd, College Fjords. wow...really neat things to see here! Tons of wildlife, lots of Calving at the Harvard Glacier. Time to pack and set the bags out for 12 am pick up.... Sadly our cruise is ending.

May 24th, Whittier AK We got the Mount Alyeska resort tour with airport transfer. A Grayline bus took us to the Resort where we rode a tram very high in the sky to the top of Mt. Alyeska. Wow...lots of snow to play in...not fluffy and powdery like it looks though, it is rocky and pebble feeling. Still pretty snow though! We had lunch here...included in the price. Then off to the Alaskan Native Heritage Center. Pretty neat stuff here too. Now we are taken to the Egan Center. Now our trouble begins. It seems that the Egan center does not know that about 500 of us are coming. So there are not enough buses to take us to the airport. Five hours later we get to the airport. But did this dampen our cruise...no way. The Carnival Spirit is a wonderful ship, the Food is good, entertainment is good, And Alaska is wonderful!

Carnival Spirit gets 5 stars for food, service, and entertainment. I have never been treated so well as on this ship. Everyone was happy and friendly and appeared to love their job. Once they knew your name, you were addressed by it from then on. The Captain, Cruise Director, and all staff were just wonderful. We are now hooked on cruising! I would say that they take way too many photos...after all if they all come out good....we would be really broke! I will now save for our next cruise. Alaska was the first but won't be the last. Oh and I guess I could say the infirmary got high marks from the MIL ...even if she was quarantined to her cabin! Lastly FYI...get a balcony...the scenery is non-stop in Alaska. And we saw lots of wildlife from the ship. Pack lighter than you think you'll need. layers is the key!

 

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