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My Spirit Review (plus 3 pre-cruise days in Seattle)


K.T.B.

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We just got home and I will definitely be doing a LONG review over the next day or so, but I wanted to put down a few thoughts first before diving into the long portion of it. :)

 

Overall, it was a really good trip. My wife and I love Spirit. It's easily our favorite ship. The staff on board was great. We had exceptional service. The food on board had its hits and misses, but definitely far more hits than misses. My only real complaint is the excursion department. My excursion in Juneau got cancelled because of "foggy weather". (Short version: ALL helicoptor excursions to Mendenhall glacier prior to 9:30am got cancelled. This is not a rare occurrance. I was told that it ALWAYS happens. Then excursions people try to sell you another helicoptor excursion to a different glacier that is surprisingly safe to fly to, but it'll cost you $80 more per person. Loads of people did this, but I refused. Especially when I'm hearing planes and helicoptors flying overhead...)

 

The Juneau experience basically turned a great trip into a crappy/meh few days in the end. (For me at least.) And I'll go into greater detail on it later.

 

Highlights of the trip were Seattle (LOVE the city), Tracy Arm Fjord (despite some rain), Skagway (despite morning rain), and meeting up with some CC members. Another highlight for me was coming away with over $400 of Carnival's money from the casino. :D

 

Lowlights Juneau, Ketchikan, and Victoria. The times in port are just way too short or too late to enjoy fully.

 

More to come later.... and hopefully some pictures!

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We just got home and I will definitely be doing a LONG review over the next day or so, but I wanted to put down a few thoughts first before diving into the long portion of it. :)

 

Overall, it was a really good trip. My wife and I love Spirit. It's easily our favorite ship. The staff on board was great. We had exceptional service. The food on board had its hits and misses, but definitely far more hits than misses. My only real complaint is the excursion department. My excursion in Juneau got cancelled because of "foggy weather". (Short version: ALL helicoptor excursions to Mendenhall glacier prior to 9:30am got cancelled. This is not a rare occurrance. I was told that it ALWAYS happens. Then excursions people try to sell you another helicoptor excursion to a different glacier that is surprisingly safe to fly to, but it'll cost you $80 more per person. Loads of people did this, but I refused. Especially when I'm hearing planes and helicoptors flying overhead...)

 

The Juneau experience basically turned a great trip into a crappy/meh few days in the end. (For me at least.) And I'll go into greater detail on it later.

 

Highlights of the trip were Seattle (LOVE the city), Tracy Arm Fjord (despite some rain), Skagway (despite morning rain), and meeting up with some CC members. Another highlight for me was coming away with over $400 of Carnival's money from the casino. :D

 

Lowlights Juneau, Ketchikan, and Victoria. The times in port are just way too short or too late to enjoy fully.

 

More to come later.... and hopefully some pictures!

 

Glad you had good service. Other than the very bad service and mediocre food in the MDR, Our cruise on the Spirit was fun and like the OP, I like the Spirit very much. The scenery was beautiful and the and the ports nice, (I also agree with the OP, would like more time in Ketchikan, Juneau and Victoria). The room stewart was great - never saw him, but our room was spotless and always serviced. This was my 4th Carnival cruise and the food and service in MDR was SO BELOW the standards of the other three, I couldn't believe it was the same cruise line. The MDR, was VERY disappointing. We were stuck back in a corner and basically ignored. Most nights it took about 1- 1.5 HOURS before our main course was delivered and then it was cold - their excuse, "so sorry, we are just so busy tonight". Really! aren't you this busy every night - isn't it a full dining room every night? Not only was the food served cold several times, but it was definitely not as good as on previous cruises even the couple of times it was served hot. I had to laugh at one lady at a table near us who got so tired of waiting (& repeatedly asking) for her water to be refilled that she got up and started to the beverage station to refill her own - that did get their attention. We tried to get moved, but nothing was available. We did opt for the buffet one night, (at least the food was hot, but not great there either - definitely not as good as on previous cruises) but, preferring the sit down restaurant style dining for dinner and being optomistic that surely tonight would be better, we just kept going to the MDR.

 

Some will say they don't cruise for the food, while that isn't the only reason I cruise, being able to sit down in a nice restaurant and being served good food in a pleasant atmosphere, with decent service, is definitely one of the reasons I chose a cruising vacation over other types of vacations.

 

A friend went on a different Carnival cruise in June to New England and Canada and basically said the same thing about the food and MDR. Not sure what is going on at Carnival and why so many changes, but I sure miss the old days with good food and good service. I was always one of the Carnival Cheer Leaders, but rethinking that now.

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I had fully intended to begin and post my review today, but life got in the way...

 

Anyway, as for the MDR food and service for us, it was just fine. What we had ordered was quite good, except for 2 things: Thje baked potatoes were not as done as my wife and I like them to be (not a huge deal, but I do like my potato to be DONE completely) and my prime rib on the first formal night was merely ok, though done the way I like it. It just had no flavor really...

 

And as for the service, I did get us a table for two, so our service was fabulous. Though the very first night it was a little off kilter in the beginning, but by the main course it had smoothed out. Perhaps there being only 2 of us made the difference. Who knows? I definitely have no complaints there. :)

 

Anyway, I WILL get the review going soon. Tomorrow I am back to work though, but I can probably sneak in a few things throughout the day. ;)

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I had fully intended to begin and post my review today, but life got in the way...

 

Anyway, as for the MDR food and service for us, it was just fine. What we had ordered was quite good, except for 2 things: Thje baked potatoes were not as done as my wife and I like them to be (not a huge deal, but I do like my potato to be DONE completely) and my prime rib on the first formal night was merely ok, though done the way I like it. It just had no flavor really...

 

And as for the service, I did get us a table for two, so our service was fabulous. Though the very first night it was a little off kilter in the beginning, but by the main course it had smoothed out. Perhaps there being only 2 of us made the difference. Who knows? I definitely have no complaints there. :)

 

Anyway, I WILL get the review going soon. Tomorrow I am back to work though, but I can probably sneak in a few things throughout the day. ;)

 

Looking forward reading your review!:)

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Ok, I have a bit of time to start. :) This may get a little (ok, a lot) wordy, so hang on!

 

As you can tell by the title, my wife and I added 3 days prior to the cruise in Seattle. Seattle is an awesome city! We both wish we had more time to see and do things there, and it's very possible that we may do a weeklong vacation there some time next year.

 

Anyway, we left Chicago August 28th fairly early and arrived in Seattle at 1:00PM. We stayed at Inn at the Market while in Seattle and we made use of their town car service to pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel. It was well worth the money too! And the hotel is fantastic! Excellent service, excellent location being right by Pike Market Place, and best of all it was quiet! We were both very happy.

 

When we get to the hotel and our room wasn't quite ready yet, but that was ok since we were VERY hungry. Right across the street from the hotel is a restaurant called Steelhead Diner. (I'll say right now, I always do a LOT of research before a trip in searching out restaurants and things to do as to avoid a bad experience if possible.) I'll admit when I saw the place online, I was less than enthused. However, being hungry and it being right there, we headed on over.

 

I’m glad we went. Even though we were “starving”, we ate relatively light since we had 6PM dinner plans. The food is quite good and the service was impeccable. We actually ended up going on Monday night as well for dinner. If you get the chance, go there! You will not be disappointed in the least.

 

Eventually the room was ready; we dropped of the luggage and decided to head over to the Market for a short time. BIG mistake. Not because it’s a bad place, we both loved it, but because it was insanely crowded. 3PM on a Saturday is not the best time to go is you dislike crowded areas! :p We regained our sanity and then decided it was better if we just relaxed a bit before dinner at the Space Needle.

 

For dinner, we were meeting up with a friend of mine and his wife. We had gotten to know one another on another message board. They live about 90 miles north of Seattle and came down for the weekend. They met us at our hotel, sat and talked a bit, and then off we went to the dinner! Walking to the monorail that goes to the Needle, I remembered that there was going to be a parade that evening in Seattle…. Torchlight Parade and Run actually. I didn’t think much of it, since we would be at dinner and probably miss it. (Big mistake #2! :p ) Got the Space Needle and headed up to Sky City!

 

Dinner was fabulous. Stupendous views of course, but also a great meal. Granted, the prices were inflated, but the scenery could not be beat. People in reviews have said that the food at Sky City is not all that good, but they're wrong. Two meals in Seattle already and I was very pleased so far by the offerings! After dinner we went up the observation deck and got some great pictures of a Seattle sunset. Afterwards, we all headed back to our respective hotels.

 

Now then, my friend and his wife’s hotel was between the Needle and the parade route. Unfortunately, my hotel was not. So begins the journey to get across the parade route.

 

First we flagged down a cab and road about half a block before he informed us that he’d need to go miles out of his way and he didn’t want us to be forced to pay. He told us to just walk about 2 blocks south and we could cross there. Oh, and he refused to even take $3 that he was owed (it was showing on his meter)! That has never happened before to me!

 

Long story short, we made it back to the hotel, albeit in a circuitous way. Sleep came quickly once back in the room.

 

On Sunday, we had plans to go the Mariners game with my friend and his wife. However, we first needed breakfast. Now this is where all that research I did paid off. There is a place on 1st Avenue, between Stewart St & Virginia St, officially called “Caffé Lietto”. Inside for breakfast, however, it’s called Biscuit Bitch at Caffé Lietto. (That really is the name! Please Hosts do not ban me for using the “B word”!) This was easily the best place I have ever gone for breakfast. PERIOD. This is not a place to go for a light breakfast. This is a place to go where you want a “stick to your ribs, smothered in sausage gravy, eggs & bacon & cheese” breakfast. High cholesterol? What high cholesterol? :D Seriously, this place, while quaint/small inside, is freakin’ awesome. Go there if you’re ever in Seattle. And, yeah, we went twice!

 

After breakfast we took public transportation (great system, by the way) to Safeco Field for a day of baseball! And it was a great day, too. The only “bad” thing is when I had left my seat to answer "the call of nature", a foul ball was hit in our vicinity! A guy 2 seats away got the ball, so I missed out on a chance there. Later on another foul headed in our direction, but it was in the row in front of us. 4 decades plus and this is the first time that more than one ball landed close enough for to possibly grab, and I had to go to another city for it to happen!

 

After the game, which the Mariners won, we walked the mile back to the hotel… mostly uphill. Lots of great sights to see along the way, but, boy, it was not easy! We said our good-byes to my friend and his wife, and we proceeded to our hotel in order to collapse in our room for an hour or so. That night we had dinner at The Pike. If you’re into brewpubs, it’s a very good place for a beer and the food is decent.

 

That’s it for now. I will post some pictures at some point, once I get them loaded up either on Facebook or Flickr. Right now, back to work! ;)

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Kevin sorry about not meeting on the ship. This is the first meet and greet I did not make, and I have been on 15 cruises.

 

My youngest daughter hurt herself that morning in Seattle while jogging on a bike path and we had to get her looked at.

 

I did walk by late but didn't see anyone. It was a very rough way to start our cruise.

 

I met someone from the roll call on a shuttle van in Juneau goig to our whale watch with Harv and Marv.

 

I will post my review shortly. I am glad you had a good time. We loved Seattle too!

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Spirit is my FAVORITE ship. Love the spirit class, but Spirit holds some very good memories and I love the colors. We were booked on her for a B2B AK cruise a few years ago but had to cancel which I was SO UPSET about and I don't think we will ever get there, :( so I live vicariously thru these reviews! :p Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

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Ok, finally back to the review! Oh, and some pictures! :) First some pics:

 

Our hotel.

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My wife and me at the Needle.

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Sunset in Seattle from the obsevation deck.

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Biscuit Bitch menu board.

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At the ballpark!

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More pics:

 

Lunch at the pig on Monday. The food was... ok. The pig cool though!

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Flying fish at the market! If he had not caught it, my wife would have... in the face! Seriously.

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And now more review!

 

After the ballgame we had a ghost tour booked at 7. As tired as we were, it was still a fun thing to do. We learned a lot of the history of Seattle as well. Dinner was at Pike Brewing and it was quite good.

 

Monday, as you can see, we did the Pike Market Place. First was breakfast at the Athenian after failing to get any service at Lowell's. (We waited for nearly 10 minutes and got no menu or water or anything...) The Athenian is a very, very good place for breakfast! I was glad we got snubbed at Lowell's.

 

One of the things my wife definitely wanted to see was the flying fish... Me, I could care less, but it's what she wanted. After waiting for a bit, they did their thing, she got sprayed by fish water, and thankfully the guy caught the fish!

 

For the most part, the day was just spent being tourists and wandering the Market.

 

Tuesday we sailed!

 

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And the Space Needle from the deck of Spirit.

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More to come...

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Tuesday, 7/31, we finally boarded the Spirit.

 

The day really began well by eating at Biscuit Bitch (again) for breakfast and then heading over to the pier to get there by 10:30. Everything was a breeze. I had surprised my wife by upgrading us to a suite, so that gave us VIP boarding. At the time we got there, it was not crowded in the least, though there were probably about 100 people there.

 

So we sat and waited for about 45 minutes or so before they started gathering people up. Which leads me to a HUGE pet peeve of mine. There were people with the VIP boarding pass lining up in the wrong area because they wanted to be first on board. I knew this, many others knew this, but no one decided to tell them. (I don't blame Carnival, it's not their responsibility to regulate oblivious people when it's not causing any problems.) So a woman comes over, unhooks the the rope for the VIP line and informs us we can start to board. It's about 11:30 at this point.

 

So, all of us who paid attention, go to where we're supposed to be and the other lined up in the wrong area get these panicked looks on their faces. (They're not going to be first! Oh no! :eek: ) So what do they do? They try to cut ahead of all of us by ducking under the ropes. You do NOT cut ahead in line. Nothing pisses me off more than that. What was an organized situation has now become chaotic because some did not pay attention.

 

So being the shy retiring type that I am, I, of course, say something about some people being extremely rude. Loudly. So those ahead could hear me quite well. One woman, who was about all of about 5' tall, took offense to my calling out the people who were being rude and decided to slap with her boarding pass. (Great morning gone bad.) She kept telling me that if it was so important go ahead of her. I told her that that was not the point and that if she hit me one more time with her pass, I'll call security. She stopped quickly.

 

Now then, I don't care if I'm #1 or #100 on board, just pay attention to what you're doing and don't be rude is all I ask. These idiots who ducked under the ropes, thankfully, got put to the side temporarily to allow some people in wheelchairs to get on board first. Then we went through to get on board.

 

Anyway, finally past the stupidity, we're on board! All that turmoil in line is immediately gone. Now off to lunch! :)

 

After lunch we explore the ship a bit, even though we have sailed Spirit before. It's still a gorgeous ship and it's still my favorite by far. At 1:00 it was still too early to get to our cabin, so we headed to the MDR to get in line to talk with the Maitre'D about getting a table for two. Shockingly, there was only 1 other couple there waiting. In the past there have been many there! Things are looking up! And we did get our table for two as well! :)

 

Being that's now past 1:30, we can get to our cabin. My wife did know at this point about the suite, but she was still amazed. As was I! And she was also surpised by the birthday decorations that adorned the room thanks to our best friends! And the first thing we did? We went out on to the balcony to relax for a bit and to enjoy.

 

Seriously, the afternoon flew by quickly. We got our luggage fairly early, getting the last piece by 5:00. The muster drill, while obviously quite important, is still a pain to deal with. I know they do it every week with a new sailing, but they always seem to be very disorganized when doing it. It also didn't help matters much that the cruise's first drunk was standing in front of us. Or should I say, barely standing and swaying? Thankfully he stumbled off to parts unknown once we were released from the drill.

 

By the time dinner time arrived, we were starved. We had late dining, which we both prefer, but I may rethink that if we ever do another west coast cruise! The waitstaff that served us was great. I've seen people complain about how bad the service has gotten, but we seriously did not have any problems. I've also seen people complain about the quality of the food and the different menu items, overall there were very few complaints. (The minor complaint I have is that their baked potatoes, for me, were a tad undercooked. They were done, but still a bit too firm for my liking. And that's the worst complaint I have!)

 

After dinner, I wanted to try the casino out. I always try on the first night to see what types of players are at the blackjack tables. This was one cruise where most of the players knew what they doing! So I played.... a lot. And I won... a decent amount. :)

 

Once we got back to the cabin, we pretty much collapsed. A very long day that was, for the most part, great.

 

I will say at this point that all the complaints I see people having about Carnival and the current cruising as compared to years past was slightly evident to me. The waitstaff did seem a bit more harried than usual, but the service still top notch. The food quality was still high, but you could see and taste some of the changes, especially the pizza. We did not see any shows while on board, so I cannot comment on those, but I heard mixed reviews of them. Overall, what minor things have occurred/changed were not nearly enough to make me stop cruising Carnival. And while I did have one not-so-good experience on board (I'll talk about that later), the crew did a great job.

 

Oh, and I'll post more pics later when I get home! :)

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Just some pics for now of the ship and me enjoying being on it. :)

 

Some shots of the cabin and balcony:

 

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No, the ship was not listing... lol! I tried to get as much of it as I could!

 

And me enjoying he balcony:

 

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And here we are leaving Seattle:

 

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The view from our table in the MDR:

 

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It was truly a prime people watching table!

 

Our fantastic waitstaff:

 

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And our first towel animals of the cruise! (Yeah, we love 'em!)

 

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End of embarkation day. More to come, though not too much occurred on the first sea day for us. Plus it was very foggy/rainy most of the day, so not too many opportunities to take pictures.

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Ok, back to the review, I'll post pictures later today once I get home. :)

 

August 1, first sea day: As I mentioned, we really didn't do much on this day other than explore the ship a bit, sit on the balcony to watch the foggy covered coastline, and I played blackjack in the casino off and on. We also slept in that day, making it to breakfast at around 10am. :D It was our lone "lazy day" of the trip. Unfortunately, there were not many opportunities to take pictures of the coastline and outside because of the fog/slight rain we had that day.

 

Oh, and I am going to mention now that if you do play blackjack and your dealer is a blond girl from England by the name of Laura, RUN!!! Otherwise, she will take all your money! :eek:

 

Seriously, while she is a very sweet person, she had a run of luck that was stupefying. There seemed to be a group of us who always tended to gather at the same table and whenever she dealt, we lost more than we won. I gave up playing at her table whenever she dealt when she hit 21 4 times in a row one night. And it was pure luck as there was no way "the house" could have rigged it. But overall, the people in the casino were great. Even the country singer on stage behind the bar was pretty good.

 

August 2, Tracy Arm Fjord: While technically the second sea day, going into Tracy Arm is somewhat like a "port" as you can do an excursion off the ship. They'll load you on to a much smaller boat, think about the size of a ferry, and they'll take you deeper into the fjord. Not everyone knows this excursion exists and it's very confusing if you try to find it on Carnival's website. If you want to book this excursion, look for "Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer" listed at any Alaskan port on their website. It does not leave from any port, but rather from the ship on second day out. (That's where it's confusing.) Plus you do not book it the same way online as any of the other excursions, but rather you send an email to request it. If you get on the ship and want to do this excursion, it will be sold out. Here's a link to that excursion, just as an "FYI": LINK.

 

Back to the day.

 

It was grey and rainy. "Yay." However, it did clear up about a third of the way through the excursion. :) But even in the greyness of the day, Tracy Arm Fjord is incredibly breathtaking. If all you want from your cruise is nothing but scenery and views of waterfalls & mountains, you get it here. It was about a 3 hour excursion and I easily took over 200 pictures. I could have taken many more, but I stayed inside for part of it and didn't venture out until the rain had slowed/stopped.

 

Tracy Arm actually has a north and south glacier. The glacier is Sawyer Glacier and you get to visit both North Sawyer and South Sawyer. And during the time we visited both ends, we got to see something that rarely happens once during an excursion, let alone twice. Both glaciers calved while we were there. Huge chunks of ice came off the glacier and fell into the water with a very loud splash. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera at the ready for either occurance. It happened that quickly.

 

At the end of the excursion, the tide was high enough for Spirit to come meet us and pick us up, allowing the second group of people on to the boat. But for 3 hours, it was like being in heaven. (Yes, there will be pictures... :) )

 

Afterwards, we had lunch, went back to the cabin to relax for awhile, and just enjoyed seeing Tracy Arm from our balcony.

 

More to come!

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