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Vickie Bowne

Age: 44

Occupation:Transit Driver

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: November 8th, 2005

Itinerary: Alaska

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Spirit Cruise Review
Alaska Northbound

Vickie Bowne


My husband I have sailed many times, this was our 4th Carnival Cruise, and we have also done 3 Princess Cruises. I am 40 and my husband is 49. We sailed on the 8 night Exotic Mexican Riviera Cruise November 8, 2005 from San Diego.

Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around noon via taxi. We were unsure as to where to put our luggage as there was no porters around; however we were early. We then proceeded to the terminal and started lining up. After about a half hour we were given our sail and sign cards and a boarding number. We were #7 and they had just called #1 so we left the terminal to walk around a bit and grab a coffee. When we returned they were boarding all numbers. We were on the ship at around 1:30 pm. Note when our bags were delivered to our room, one bag was ripped. We took it to the pursers office and they wrote us a letter and promised to pay or replace the bag.

Room: We booked an outside guaranteed and were upgraded to a balcony cabin (7264). This cabin is at the back of the ship and quite high up, with only one more floor of cabins above us. People on the 8th floor told us that you could hear the chairs being moved around on the Lido deck above them. The cabin was very large, largest I’ve been in. We didn’t seem to have too many problems moving around. There was a mini bar, but we didn’t use it as you had to pay for it and pay a restocking fee. The t.v. had enough channels to keep you entertained, plus you can watch pay per view movies, which we did at a cost of $8.99. You can also book tours and review you bill on the t.v.

Balcony: Fair size, it had 2 chairs and a table. We enjoyed breakfast out there many mornings, and late afternoon sun tanning. The downsize of the balcony is our neighbor left their outside light on all night and that was annoying. With a balcony you not only have to deal with the slamming of the cabin doors, you now have to hear everybody’s balcony door slamming, but I would definitely book a balcony in the future. We did bring a bungee cord and used it the first few days, we stopped as having the door open turned the air conditioner off and trust me when you are in Mexico it was way too hot and muggy outside to leave it open. Most evenings it was in the high 80’s. Also in the evenings we were woken up because of noise from someone else on their balcony.

Bed: Very impressed with the comfort of the bed. Great duvet, and sheets. We did encounter a problem. We started noticing we were getting bitten by something, at first we figured it was probably from fleas or something in Mexico when we went ashore, but after a day at sea the next morning I had about ten new bites from the waist down. And it continued on the next day at sea too. We assumed it was from bed bugs, and told the purser, but they just shrugged and said that nothing was found. Which is silly as you can’t see dust mites. Our cruise was almost over, but we were concerned about the next passengers getting our room.

Storage: No need to worry about space, you have lots and then some. Two closets, and one tall cabinet with shelves. A set of drawers and a desk drawer, plus two bedside tables. Plus our suitcases fit nicely under the beds.

Bathroom: Largest bathroom I have ever had. We did notice a foul smell in the bathroom pipes after two days at sea, but a container of air fresher can resolve that. The shower was very large, and great water pressure. The sink had lots of shelves for all the toiletries. I was especially impressed with a small basket provided in the bathroom filled with lots of little things like, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, conditioner, mouth wash, gel, razor, moisturizer and a little book.

The negatives on the room: the noise from the hallways and from other cabins was noticeable. The cupboard doors don’t have handles but these little leather loops which were useless and cause the doors to bang shut which could be heard next door. The safety deposit box requires you to use a credit card to lock/unlock, which is fine, however then you have a credit card that you have to hide in your room or keep with you at all times. The air conditioner in our room hardly worked, only at a very minimum. They tried to fix it but said there was nothing more they could do. We heard that other people had commented that their AC only worked on high. There was only one outlet to plug things in to. Not a real problem for us, but others may want to bring a power cord.

Food: Put it this way, we didn’t starve. There was always somewhere you could eat, and it was usually very good.
Empire Dinning Room: We had late seating at a table for four. Our wait staff were top notch and the best part of the cruise. We actually looked forward to seeing them every day. The menus were good, not great, but I always found something to eat. I thought it was funny that they had several items on the menu that they had the last time I cruised Carnival ten years ago. We did bring wine on board and the three times we brought a bottle to the dinning room we were charged corkage fee ($10) only two times. We also purchased bottles and I felt their prices were very reasonable.

Room Service: We ordered breakfast quite a few times. However we never once got exactly what we wanted. It was actually funny, every morning we would look forward to see what we ended up with.

Lido restaurant: This is the one area I felt that Carnival really needs to work on. The food is good, the selection is great; however the layout there is horrible. The aisles are very narrow, and often would be filled with a line up for one of the stations and then people were trying to pass with their food, and then people just walking, plus the wait staff trying to clear tables etc. Often you get there, figure out what you want, line up for some pizza, then join another line for the salad, then another for dessert. You had to plan your attack, get cold items first then lastly hot items to ensure you ate food that was hot.

Bar: My past experience with Carnival was pushy bar staff pushing drinks on you every five minutes. Not this time, they were always around, and would occasionally ask if you want a drink. Get this, Carnival no longer has straws! That is right, if you order a drink you have to drink directly from the glass, which can be a problem with frozen drinks, or drinks filled with ice. I stopped order frozen drinks because of this. It was a joke on board with many people, in Acapulco many people went and purchased straws for their own personal use.

Entertainment: Again we found the entertainment adequate but not great. There was always something going on, but often it just wasn’t what we were interested in. They had a great comedian and a hypnotist. We didn’t see any of the big Vegas type shows, but I heard they were great.

tear but nothing glaringly wrong. I found it easy to get around, and lots of elevators and stairs. Carnival always has one side of the ship that is the main corridor on the promenade deck. Great idea; however it gets rather crowded during peak times. Smoking areas were hard to avoid. In fact to get to the dinning room you had to walk through the cigar bar. Most other areas had smoking and non smoking sections, except the casino. The main show lounger was very large and never had a problem getting a seat. The main pool decks were busy but not too crowded that you couldn’t find a space.

Crew: Everyone we met that worked onboard was very nice and always approachable. And I couldn’t believe how patient everyone was, I certainly would not of been as patient with some of the passengers. The captain was very funny, I actually enjoyed listening to his report every day at noon. At one point he was telling us the latitude and longitude when he says who cares what they are we are in Mexico. The Cruise Director Michael and his wife were very nice and funny and always approachable.

Ports: Firstly we did not book any tours with Princess but did some research of our own and did our own thing.
Acapulco: wow what a large city, and lots of traffic, which I knew it would be but was still taken back. We visited the fort, very interesting and then walked to the artisan market. We then caught a local bus (only .40) to the hotel zone and had lunch and did some shopping. In the evening we met up with a local person I knew and we had dinner at Su Casa which I would highly recommend. After dinner we went to a club called Paradise and partied with many of the crew members.

Ixtapa/Zi: We tendered into this port and it was well run. You had to go up to the pool and get a tender sticker, first come first served. We were off about 15 minutes after picking up our sticker. We took the local bus to Ixtapa and walked the beach, which is a beautiful beach and you could easily spend the entire day there. We took a taxi back to Zi and did some shopping. Beautiful place and definitely worth another visit as a land vacation. Two ladies we met did the horse back riding excursion, they enjoyed it, but it was very hot, very dusty and don’t forget bug spray.

Manzanillo: We were here for two weeks a few years ago so we immediately walked out to the main drag (ask the information guy on the pier for directions) and caught a local bus to Santiago with is a suburb of Manzanillo, fifteen minutes away. They have a great beach (called Playa Mirimar) plus you can find some large stores. Later in the day we went downtown and walked around and had a nice lunch. Many people didn’t like Manzanillo; however I believe that they are missing out. This city is a true Mexico city, it hasn’t been invaded with tourists. If you want a beautiful beach experience ask a taxi to take you to Playa Mirimar, that also has great snorkeling. A friend we met did take the Deep Sea Fishing excursion, here are his comments: “Deep Sea fishing was booked through Carnival prior to the cruise at $145.00 USD pp. There were 5 guests & 2 crew on the boat. Guides were great, except for speaking very little English. They had 3 boats out that day. No one else was catching anything on any other boat, or in the whole bay, per radio messages! The only thing we caught were two gulls who swooped for our bait. We untangled them & they got away safely!”

Debarkation: We arrived in San Diego on time, but all non US citizens had to clear customs before we could get off. Since there was a large conference of mainly Canadians it took a while, plus they only had four custom officers that had to clear 700 people. They should have had more officers as they knew that a third of the ship had to clear customs. We then went to a public area and waited for our number to be called. We were off the ship and in a taxi in about a half hour. Very efficient.

Casino: We aren’t huge gamblers; however we usually donate $20 or so to the slots every day. At times we won, but often lost. The Spirit’s casino is suppose to be the largest afloat, but it didn’t seem that big. You have to walk through the Casino to move from one end of the ship to the other, which is annoying. The room was often filled with smoke and often crowded. You can now charge your sail and sign card with gambling money, note there is a 15% surcharge.

We encountered four problems, the ripped suitcase, the bed bugs, the air conditioning and lastly our most frustrating. We purchased three bottles of liquor in Ixtapa, when we boarded the ship we did as we were told and handed the bottles over to be held until the end of the cruise. We signed our name, gave our room number and folio number. However we never received the bottles on the last day. That night we contacted the purser and no one responded back. The next morning (debarkation day) we called them again, they called us back to say that the bottles were located and would be delivered. We went to customs and afterwards, still no bottles. So we lined up at the pursers desk and they were quick to reimburse us the $57, but my concerns was that they didn’t follow up on my two initial calls to ensure we had received the bottles.

Final comments
The public washrooms don’t have paper towels to dry your hands, only dryers. Many people were frustrated with this, it took a long time to dry and most people just used the Kleenex.
The coffee bar is always one of my favorite places, but I wish they would have had wait staff to serve us like on other cruise lines. Here you had to line up and wait for your drinks that were served in a paper cup.
The cruise divides the entire ship into 3 color teams, depending where you sit in the dinning room and each team gets points for participating and winning events throughout the week. Great idea; however it should be expanded and get more people involved. Often you play a trivia game with 50 other people and only one person wins and that team gets points. Only at dinner did you find out what the totals were. And at the end of it, our team won, but so what, nothing happened, not even a paper award.
On Princess the Cruise Director and his assistant did a morning talk show where they talked about anything and everything and it was fun to watch. Carnival should do something like this.
I did work out a few times. The gym is at the front of the ship and on two floors, but on sort of split levels. There just wasn’t enough aerobic equipment. It was difficult to access the gym, and locker rooms and I wasn’t the only one.
The Supper Club was available but we didn’t go as we were very happy with the dinning room. The cost is $30 and most people I spoke to were happy with their meal there. I did enjoy a wine tasting there.
The stores on board were always filled with passengers, and good deals could be had. My husband purchased roses for me and they were beautiful but didn’t last the entire cruise, but that may have been because our room was so warm. I did purchase one of the terry cloth robes, and I love it.
Carnival now has their version of a time share, which we were constantly reminded of. The lady at our table is a member, she didn’t say how much it was but she said she doesn’t know if she will get her money’s worth. Carnival also pushed their credit card that offered you points for future cruises.

Overall I would say the cruise was good, but not great. I would still recommend Carnival, but I don’t think I will be sailing with them again.


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