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Brandi Gingras

Age: 28

Occupation:Office Manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: August 13th, 2003

Itinerary: AlaskaThis was

our first cruise and what better place than to Alaska. There were 10 of us all together, plus my 2-year-old daughter. We flew out of Cleveland, OH and into Vancouver, B.C. It was very slow-going and frustrating with all the transfers, customs, check-in, etc. – it ended up taking a few hours and we felt like herded cattle but once we got on the ship, we forgot all of that! What a beautiful ship! Very elegant! We found our room with no problem but getting oriented to where everything was on the boat was a bit difficult. Knowing from the get-go weather you’re room is on the port (right) or starboard (left) side and forward (front) or aft (back) is very helpful! Laundry facilities are limited on board, too.

You read everywhere that you probably won’t get sick on an ocean liner – well, I did. I saw quite a few people walking around with the seasickness patches behind their ears or the wristbands. They are good to have just in case. It’s not a problem usually while in the channel’s but once you get into open waters, it can get pretty rough.

The spa is a great option! I had a massage and facial and my mom had a facial and a pedicure. It really isn’t too much more expensive than here at home.

There are three options for dining – the La Playa Grill which is very casual buffet-style, the Empire Room which your assigned dinner seating but open for lunch and breakfast yet more formal. The Supper Club which is upscale fine dining, by reservation only. La Playa has food available pretty much at any time with 24-hour pizza and ice cream. We felt most comfortable taking our 2-year-old there. Empire Room is great, though, as well. We got to know our wait-staff – Katut and Dennis. They were loads of fun yet extremely professional. They also did some sort of “show” every night – weather it was singing or dancing around the room in a conga line!

Everyone on the ship, most of the passengers included, are VERY friendly and say a quick hello when passing in the hall! I would definitely recommend the excursion meeting given by the cruise director! Very informative and didn’t seem to be a “hey, we own this so it’s the best” kind of thing. They give you unbiased information on the excursions. Keep in mind which ones you want to do because everyone immediately goes back to their rooms and books them (on the TV or in a REALLY long line at the excursion office) following the meeting. We didn’t partake in many of the on-board activities except for one show that was excellent! We did the Saxman Native Village tour and Lumberjack show in Ketchikan. Whale Watching and Wildlife Expedition in Juneau where we saw an unusually high number of Humpback whales, seals, sea lions and Bald Eagles. Our helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier was cancelled in Juneau due to bad weather (definitely bring rain gear!!). I went horseback riding on the Chilkoot Trail and my husband went kayaking in Skagway. We took a short bus tour in Sitka (there was a tour selling tickets at the dock when we got off the ship). When the ship docked at our final port, Seward, we were off the boat by 6:30 am and on a bus to Anchorage. Unless you book a tour, you have no time in Seward. Two of the people in our party took the train to Anchorage and said it was really a lot better (and longer) than the bus ride. We did, however, get to see Beluga whales on the bus (the train saw them too). I would definitely recommend an excursion in Anchorage if you have a later flight. We got into Anchorage around 10 am and were at a loss of things to do in Anchorage until our flight left at 7:25 pm. Anchorage seemed to be the most expensive of the cities as well. You really do have plenty of time in the ports. The towns are small tourist towns and pretty much shut down in the winter. The tours are operated very smoothly and depart on time and get you back to the boat on time. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about the area. It’s a lot if you have 2 excursions in one port if you want any time to explore the cities. You get a better guide to the excursions once you get on the ship about times and prices. You can also rent binoculars and two-way radios on board but they are rather pricey so bring your own if you have them. Two-way radios are great to have if you have more than a few people in your party.

Most of the week, we took our daughter to Camp Carnival. The counselors were excellent and really loved working with the children. They have activities all day to keep the children busy and entertained. They have a great play area that they separate into age groups and counselors that work regularly with that age group. They do crafts, face painting, quiet time, cartoons, etc. They will lend you a pager in case of an emergency as well. They will take the kids up to lunch on port days while you are off the boat on excursions. They have babysitting (for an additional charge) after 10 pm until 3 am if you want to go see the shows, check out the casino, or hang out at the many bars on ship. My daughter asked to go play with the kids and didn’t want to hang out with us all week! There are very good safety measures in place. Only the parents or legal guardian can check the child in/out, the same parent that signs them in MUST sign them out. Both parents can come sign in so that either one can pick up the child. They provide diapers on an emergency basis so if you have them, bring them. And don’t rely on finding them in ports either because you can’t find them!

I would definitely take this cruise again. I loved Carnival and I loved Alaska! Both were great! I would recommend it to anyone!

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