My wife and I have been on many previous cruises, but this was the first on the Carnival Spirit and only our second Carnival experience. Overall, we were very pleasantly surprised. Most areas of the cruise exceeded our expectations.A. Embarkation. I start here with the worst embarkation experience I have ever had. The problems began with standing in long lines for hours, only to get on a bus to be transported 5 blocks to a convention center to register and stand for another long line for hours then, after registration, stand in another line for a bus back to the ship for boarding. Many people started at about 2pm and did not board until 8pm. The port of San Diego and Carnival share in the blame here as both handled things badly. On top of their inefficiency, a marathon was being run on the street which prevented bus traffic, and passengers were told not to walk back to the ship (which we did anyway).B. Security. Most people have no problem with the inconvenience of security and I thought Carnival did a very good job in this area. C The ship: As Carnival advertises, the cabins are spacious and comfortable. The closet and drawer space were more than adequate. It was our first experience with a balcony and that made the cruise much better. I always felt we did not spend a lot of time in the cabin, as we are early birds and like to watch the sunrise and sunset up on the open deck. This time we did it from the balcony with our coffee and breakfast served in the room. Very gratifying.The cabin steward did a fine job in maintaining our cabin and anticipating our needs without being overly noticeable. Our room was serviced even when we left for just a short period and we hardly saw him.Being an early bird, I was out on the deck walking as early as 5:30 some mornings and only the maintenance people were on deck - cleaning and polishing and getting ready. The walking on deck 10 was great. Above the pool deck, I wasn't disturbing anyone below by walking. And the jogging on deck 11 was even more removed from the cabin areas. The SPA was very well stocked with new and high tech equipment. All tread mills were filled by 7am.The food was better than expected, but not on a par with some other cruises. The food was "good," but not as hot as I would have liked, and the dessert selection was below my standards. However it didn't keep me from eating every morsel on my plate. The Supper Club, although expensive at $25 extra, was outstanding - both in presentation and in taste. I would go there again.There was always plenty to do or not do, and I give the Carnival Spirit good marks on all counts except the embark/debark process. All the time in between was great.
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