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SeeJennyCruise

Carnival Spirit Alaska Cruise Aug 31, 2010

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August 31 – September 7, 2010

This is my first review to post on CC. We made it home last night and I’ve downloaded the pictures and am still trying to get them all uploaded to photo bucket. I’ve written about 1/3 of the review and hope to finish about the time I have completed the photo uploads. Let me know if you have a better site to use for pictures. I am uploading about 4GB of photos.

 

My travel partner is my best friend and DH, Terry. We spent a few days before the cruise visiting our son's family in the Seattle / Tacoma area for our grandson's 2nd birthday.

 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It was an unusually cool and rainy day for late August, even by Seattle weather standards. The drizzle was not going to dampen our spirits as we headed toward Seattle from Puyallup, about 18 miles southwest of Seattle.

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We dropped off our luggage at Pier 91 at 11:30, about an hour later than we had originally planned. This was our first visit to Pier 91 and we were not sure where to drop off our bags. The porters were bundled up and were not as easy to spot as the Hawaiian shirts worn by the porters in Galveston.

 

We drove back into downtown Seattle and turned in the Avis rental where we were happily surprised to learn that the attendant could drive us to the ship. I wish I had known that was an option before we took the time to drop off our luggage. I got some great shots of the Space Needle from the back seat. There was some noon time traffic and it was about 12:30 before we were back at Pier 91.

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We were excited to have a suite booked for this cruise and with our Fun Pass ready to go, we were looking forward to breezing through security and check in. There was not a VIP line for security and we stood in line for about 10 minutes before getting to our turn at the x-ray and heading toward the VIP line for check in. The nice attendant chatted with us and had us wait for the two closest check in attendants. After about five minutes, the attendant moved us to an open attendant where we had a fairly smooth check in before heading to the boarding picture. I did note that by the time we were up to the photo spot, we were only about two minutes ahead of the people we had waited with in the security line. The point being, the VIP check in did not really do anything for us in Seattle. It may have been different for people arriving earlier.

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After boarding, we headed straight to our cabin 6327 on the starboard side. The drizzle and rain made the balcony a less desirable spot at 1:00 p.m., but we were happy with the cabin and the size of the balcony.

 

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Our first order of business was to take pictures of the cabin for cruisestateroom.com and unpack.

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A brief note about packing for an Alaskan cruise departing from Seattle in August… Even after accounting for the four days we were in Washington, I probably have more luggage than 70% of the female passengers on the ship. I used 97% of everything I packed. There is some room for improvement, but I am satisfied that I did not grossly over pack.

 

Ulung, our cabin steward introduced himself to us and we knew we were going to be well taken care of. The Cruise Critic roll call for this cruise was active and we were invited to join the group in one of the aft wrap suite cabins for a wine tasting get together at 2:30. Our hosts were Kelly and Ray who were joined by Sherri and George, and about ten more from the roll call including yours truly. Sherri started the roll call on CC. Thank you, Sherri!

It was nice to enjoy different wines and meet the people I had been talking with on CC for several months before muster. The official meet and greet was scheduled for the next day and now we would know who to look for. The weather was lacking, but the wine tasting made for an enjoyable start to our Alaskan cruise. Woo hoo!

 

We had early dinner and were seated at a table for nine. I am always hesitant to go with traditional dining and sit with the same group each night. I don’t want the hassle of requesting to move if we end up at a table with tablemates we would not want to sit next to for dinner all week. I am happy to tell you we had a great table with interesting and friendly people from Houston, Chicago, Tampa, and Oklahoma.

 

Terry and I ate all but one dinner (Nouveau Steakhouse on Thursday night) in the Empire Dining Room. Our head waiter was Anak. I hope I spelled that correctly. I’d like to tell you the assistant waiter’s name, but I can’t seem to remember a name after a full meal with wine followed by a comedy club routine.

 

The wait staff were attentive without being overbearing. Anak showed a quick wit which we enjoyed throughout our cruise. Terry and I purchased a wine package again and were pleased with our choice. I sometimes ordered a glass of a different wine from the bar if we were ordering a bottle that did not pair well with my whole meal. The bar server was a delightful young woman from Romania. We chatted with her outside of the dining room.

 

I did not keep track of dinner each night to offer a rating, however, I do recall a few items we enjoyed. The first night I had the flat iron steak, good flavor, good use a bit more tenderizing. Terry was pleased with the prime rib and baked potato. We enjoyed the Jekyl Pinot Noir with our dinner and we both ordered the chocolate melting cake just to make sure it was up to standard for the cruise. We are selfless that way, thinking only of our tablemates. ;)

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There was some movement on the ship as we traveled the open ocean heading toward Dixon Entrance, Alaska. I love to sleep in on land. On a cruise, I am usually up before 7:00 a.m. I want to get up to check out the landscape or seascape. We usually have coffee ordered from room service to arrive about 7:00 and this morning we added a couple of pastries. We tip a dollar or two for room service depending on how much we are asking to be delivered. We enjoyed a leisurely cup or two, we dressed and headed for the dining room.

 

After reading several cruise reviews from Snoozeman (http://*****.blogspot.com) , I always order eggs benedict in the dining room for breakfast the first sea day. We were the last couple seated at a table for 12 by the window. Coincidentally, I sat next to a couple that lives just a few blocks away from our son’s family in Pasadena, Texas. On the other side of the table was a lovely couple from Wyoming who live near Douglas, Wyoming. Douglas was the only town big enough for a hotel when I visited Bill, Wyoming some years ago. I’m talking a ½ blink town that is only big enough for a half a PO Box address. If they had been from anywhere else in Wyoming our meeting would not have been remarkable. It can be a small world, especially on a cruise ship. This was a lovely way to start our first day at sea.

 

The eggs benedict was fair and the bacon crisp just as I like it. Eight times out of ten I like the bacon on Carnival. Sometimes I wish I had brought a paper towel to blot the grease, but it is good and I rarely eat bacon at home. Terry enjoyed his omelet, sausage, hash browns, and tomato juice with Tabasco. By the way, "hash browns" in our part of the world are shredded. These are the pattie kind. Terry doesn't seem to mind a bit.

 

We wandered around a bit and then headed back to the room to get the sign for the Cruise Critic Carnival Spirit Roll Call Meet and Greet. I had a sign made without the name of the ship that I hope to use for future cruises.

 

About 10:30 a.m., Terry and I went to the Fantail bar situated aft in the pool area. The pool and whirlpool was closedour entire trip. We saw some workers looking at it that first day and a few times during the cruise. I guess 40 and 50 degree weather does not create a line of swimmers for the uncovered pool.

 

This was a fairly quiet area that was good for whale watching and eating lunch outdoors. It may not be the same when the pool is open, but it worked great for us when the tables in the La Playa Grill (buffet) were busy. There are ice cream machines and a grill on either side of the bar. We first set up on the right side and then were reminded of the smoking that is allowed outdoors on the starboard side.

 

<insert photo here> Unfortunately, these photos were deleted. I took over 1500 pictures and I somehow deleted the photos from this first sea day. In it's place, here is a stock photo of the Fantail Bar & Main Pool area.

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From a roll call of 17 CC names representing about 40 cruisers total, we had about 14 show up for the meet and greet. I think that is pretty good. I enjoyed a bloody mary that was made with half spicy mix and half regular. The cocktail server was not sure about doing this, but he agreed to try and I had a good bloody mary while Terry and a few other CC’ers enjoyed spicy bloody marys or other drinks. We enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing about their plans for Alaska and beyond. It makes the cruise even more fun when you have already met a few “neighbors” and know folks to wave to over the days ahead.

 

During the meet and greet, I realized that tonight was the elegant evening and I had sent Terry’s suit for pressing to be delivered in two days, not one:eek:. Uh, oh! We always mess something up for elegant evening. Ties, belts, even dress shirts have gone “missing” and this time I had no one to blame but me! Ulung to the rescue. Our room steward said he would take care of it right away and he did. Terry’s suit was delivered to our room by 5:00 p.m. and I was only charged the two day fee. It’s one of the little things that make you want to stay on the ship when it is time to go home.

 

After the roll call we wandered the ship and went back to our room and the nice balcony. Michelle, the naturalist / biologist on board, came on the loud speaker throughout the afternoon to tell us about the area we were cruising through and alerted us when whales could be spotted. By this time we could feel the ship rolling up and down which made walking the hallways interesting.

 

Michelle said we had “lumpy seas”. I had not heard that term before. "Lumpy" accurately described what we were experiencing. I take ginger and use motion eaze. I don’t know if these products act as placebos, or if they are really preventing seasickness. Either way, I felt fine.

 

Throughout our cruise Michelle would tell us when whales were frolicking on the port side of the ship. I was in our cabin balcony on the starboard side of the ship. When we went up to a viewing spot near the port side, the whales would be on the starboard side. I only saw one whale from the Spirit during the entire cruise.

 

I had two main objectives for my first Alaskan cruise: 1) to see whales in their natural habitat, and; 2) to see a bald eagle, preferably flying and perched somewhere I could get a good look. I spoke with several people who enjoyed the same cruise I did and had the pleasure of seeing whales from their balconies and elsewhere on the ship. They saw whales breach from the ship and numerous sightings throughout the travel on our sea days. One passenger told me by the end of the cruise they had seen hundreds of whales from the ship! Sadly, this was not the case for me and I am very pleased we booked a whale watching trip for our cruise. I will tell you about our wonderful whale watching in Juneau on the review for Saturday, September 4.

 

Terry and I have attended several wine tastings and we enjoy each one. The wine tasting on Spirit was held at 1:30 in the Nouveau Steakhouse. It is a pretty room on decks 9 and 10, with the entrance on deck 9. We paid attention knowing we would be returning the next night for dinner. The sommelier offered us six different wines and unlike our prior tastings, our plates included a bite of salmon and beef in addition to the customary cheese, cracker and fruit. It is $15 per person (+ tip) and you won’t fill up before dinner. We enjoy learning more about wine pairing and we always learn somthing.

 

Elegant evening in the dining room was fun, especially with Terry in his suit instead of his bathrobe. Thank you, Ulung! Terry and beef of some sort and I had the lobster with a glass of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay which I would not have ordered without the wine tasting earlier in the day. After dinner we visited the Punchline Comedy Club for the first time and sat in on one of the PG shows. We chuckled and laughed a bit before leisurely heading back to our cabin. I love cruising!

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Great review Jenny! I can't wait to see your pictures of your tour in Tracy Arm!

 

I really enjoyed meeting you and Terry! :):) Thanks again for making our Cruise Critic sign!:D

Edited by luv2cruise777l

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Hi jenni, thanks for the review. I have a couple pics from the meet and greet. I have them downloaded to our friend Rob's laptop but they continued their vacation on to oregon. So when they get back, I will sort through them and email them to to along with some other pics I took of you and Terry. It was great meeting you and to know we will be sailing again with you in six months.

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Great review Jenny! I can't wait to see your pictures of your tour in Tracy Arm!

 

I really enjoyed meeting you and Terry! :):) Thanks again for making our Cruise Critic sign!:D

 

 

Sherrie, We so enjoyed meeting you and George, too! Thank you for putting the roll call together. This was our favorite cruise so far. Meeting you and everyone on the roll call was a big part of that.:)

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Hi jenni, thanks for the review. I have a couple pics from the meet and greet. I have them downloaded to our friend Rob's laptop but they continued their vacation on to oregon. So when they get back, I will sort through them and email them to to along with some other pics I took of you and Terry. It was great meeting you and to know we will be sailing again with you in six months.

 

Oh, good! I have a picture of Rob or maybe it was Greg from the ship boarding line in Juneau. I am already looking forward to the next one. Go find that roll call when you get a chance.

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Breakfast was French toast (with bacon, of course) which I had overheard someone complimenting and I completely agree. Yum! Terry surprised me again ordering an omelet, sausage, hash browns, and tomato juice with Tabasco. :)

 

All day Wednesday I had to ask what time the excursion into Tracy Arm Fjord was to begin. Friends at the meet and greet had already received their tickets before noon on Tuesday. Originally, when we booked the excursion, there was only one tour available. Evidently there were so many requests for the tour (the favorable CC reviews don’t ya know) that a second tour was added. We received our tickets when we returned from dinner Wednesday.

 

We were scheduled for the 11:00 am launch to meet at 10:30 in the Pharoah’s Lounge (aka Punchline Comedy Club). The CD, Stu, gave us an overview of the tour and answered a few questions while we waited for the boat to take us on the tour. Depending on the weather and ice berg conditions (hard to avoid the mental references to Titanic) the Carnival Spirit will either travel down the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm. There were a few cheers when it was announced that we would be going down Tracy Arm. From the map, it looks like the Tracy Arm Fjord allows the boat to get closer to the glacier from two access points to see South Sawyer and North Sawyer glaciers.

 

 

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There were about 120+ passengers leaving the Spirit and getting on the St. Nicholas (such a fitting name) to head into the Tracy Arm Fjord. There were binoculars available on the seats in the heated, double decker cabin and a small snack bar with items for sale and free coffee. The third deck was an open air observation deck.

 

 

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I think this is Sherri waving goodbye to us from her aft wrap balcony.

 

 

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I must go to work now. I will return with part two of Tracy Arm Fjord later this evening.

Edited by Ahha_Cruise

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The Spirit entered Tracy Arm Fjord off of Holkham Bay where we boarded the St. Nicholas. Most passengers on the boat found seats and then a good number found their way to the open deck.

 

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Tracy Arm is 30 miles long. We began our trip with a light drizzle of rain and cool temperatures.

 

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The rain did not deter from the wonder we experienced as we traveled through glacier carved rock walls rising up to 4000 feet above us with cascading waterfalls looking like strings of pearls all around.

 

 

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We saw glacier ice throughout our cruise into Tracy Arm. Some of the ice is almost emerald green and others are white with tiffany blue.

 

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How often do I see a big chunk of ice float by the boat I’m in? Well, never, and I was startled by the size of some of the chunks of glacier ice we passed as we headed closer to Sawyer Glacier. The beautiful blue color of the glaciers is created by the density of the ice which absorbs all the colors of the spectrum except blue, which is reflected.

 

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Some of these glaciers are as tall as a two story building and others are the size of your hand.

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I had to purchase a rain jacket for this cruise. I searched for some time to find something I might possible use again living in sweltering Houston. As my DH says, “In Houston we have two seasons, summer and August.”

 

I found a blue Anorak jacket with a removable fleece liner. It was perfect with a pair of gloves. I rarely used the gloves because of the camera, but my free hand was comforted with the thought of the glove in my pocket. I am warm blooded and rarely wear a coat in Houston even when it dips below 45. When the temp dips below 40 at home (rarely), I still want the window open a few inches. On the boat heading into Tracy Arm Fjord, I stayed outside 90% of the time and I needed every bit of fleece in the liner to keep me warm. I also stayed dry under the jacket, although, the rain was steady enough at times that I did duck under the stairs to dry off my camera lens.

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It is hard describe the beauty we found as we followed the S curve in the fjord and made our way through the mist. Everyone was friendly as we would occasionally jostle into one another as we stood up close to the side of the boat to get a good photo shot. The boat pulled within 30 feet of waterfalls and a pulled up close to see the plant life clinging to the walls of the fjord.

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What beautiful pictures from Tracy Arm!!! I wish we did that excursion. Funny, I saw yal and didn't know it was you :( I am putting pictures up on facebook and I have 1 i took of a tour group leaving. You and your husband are in it LOL.

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.....do you have any pictures of what the inside/outside looks like of the 125 passenger ship you went on the excursion?

 

Also, since they offer 2 different times now to do it, do you have any thoughts on which time might be better and why? If you went on the first one would you miss something good on the ship or vice versa with the second excursion?

 

TIA

 

wasiii

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What beautiful pictures from Tracy Arm!!! I wish we did that excursion. Funny, I saw yal and didn't know it was you :( I am putting pictures up on facebook and I have 1 i took of a tour group leaving. You and your husband are in it LOL.

 

It was a chilly and beautiful tour.

 

I copied the picture of the boat you posted on Facebook. Thank you! :)

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.....do you have any pictures of what the inside/outside looks like of the 125 passenger ship you went on the excursion?

 

Also, since they offer 2 different times now to do it, do you have any thoughts on which time might be better and why? If you went on the first one would you miss something good on the ship or vice versa with the second excursion?

 

TIA

 

wasiii

 

I should not have called it a boat, it is a catamaran. I did not get any pictures of the inside, however, it was nice for this type of tour. Below are some pictures that I have from fellow CC'ers from the cruise. I also found this description that accurately details the St. Nicholas:

 

"In Juneau we operate a fleet of eight 78-foot catamarans, USCG approved to carry up to 150 passengers. Depending on choice of vessel, capable of reaching speeds between 26-30 knots loaded. Equipped so large groups feel very comfortable; the lower/main deck includes a galley, restrooms (one ADA accessible in each vessel) and ample seating for large groups. The upper deck includes more indoor seating and large viewing decks so that your group can enjoy the outdoors."

 

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This shot was taken as we were loading, before we were wet and cold just a little farther into the fjord. This deck was usually full for much of the tour. Well, at least when we stopped for pictures. When we were moving faster in the water and it was raining, there were more people inside.

 

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This shot gives perspective as to the size of the glacier.

 

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Thank you for posting this review! We were on Spirit a couple of weeks before you, and are loving the pictures that you have included :) Hurry up and post more!

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Your photos & info are just fantastic!!! Glad your enjoying the ship before we get on to head to Hawaii. We are looking forward to meeting you on the ship. How to do find out about the cc meet & greet on the ship?? This is my 1st time on cc rollcall.:cool:

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