North, To Alaska!
Sail Date: July 01, 2006
Reviewed: 6 years ago
Traveled As: Couple
Room Type: Balcony
We originally planned to take a Carribean cruise, but our travel agent talked us into a 7-day Alaska cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit, southbound inside passage from Anchorage to Vancouver. Yes, it's more expensive, he told us, but it's well worth it. He was right.
There was much to be impressed with, but to begin with, the entire embarkation/debarkation process was run with military precision. Our flight into Anchorage was delayed, so we were among the last to board the ship. We were smoothly ushered on board and found our luggage waiting outside our stateroom. The night before we left, we attended a briefing telling us what to expect during debarkation and how we can be ready. Sure enough, despite what looked to be a hassle-filled morning, debarkation was a piece of cake, even with having to go through Canadian customs. A little patience and following instructions goes a long way.
The Spirit is a beautiful ship, and we loved the decor and layout. It's easy to find your way around and it's hard to believe it was carrying about 3,000 passengers and crew members. We had a balcony cabin (a must for Alaska, or any other cruise) that was well-designed, attractive and had a surprising amount of storage space. The bathroom was small, but not uncomfortably so.
There were plenty of dining options and food ranged from good to excellent. We especially enjoyed the two formal nights; it was fun to get dressed up and see everyone looking so nice, enjoying the experience. The entertainment also was top-notch and full of variety.
One thing I found very helpful and thoughtful was ship's newsletter, Carnival Capers, which we found each night in our cabin -- along with a towel animal and chocolates, courtesy of our cabin steward. The newsletter packed plenty of information in just a few short pages, complete with a tear-off mini schedule for the following day to carry with you. How cool is that? It seems every question we had was not only answered, but anticipated; and if we did have a question that need attention, we got it answered very quickly.
We wondered if we'd have many lines to deal with and, with so many people aboard, there were some, but we never had to wait long for anything. Between meals, nighttime entertainment and in between ports, there was always plenty to do onboard and lots of options among the activities. We even took a galley tour and saw two ice-carving demonstrations, which were both interesting and fun, and made for good photo ops.
Although we took tons of pictures, be sure to take advantage of the ship's photographers. They're around each day and night, snapping photos, and there's no requirement to buy them, but they're put on display each day for purchase if you choose. We recommend getting at least one in formal wear, if nothing else.
We've concluded that when you add it all up, it's awfully hard to find a better vacation value than this. There are so many options among cruise lines and travel itineraries that you're bound to find one that fits your interests and budget. For us, it was a wonderful introduction to cruising and a vacation to remember. We highly recommend the Carnival Spirit and we're already checking out our next cruise, possibly next March -- a 7-day Mexican Riviera trip aboard the Carnival Pride. We'll be sticking with Carnival until they give us reason not to.
Pros: Organization of all aspects of cruise, diversity of food & entertainment, helpful & friendly crew
Cons: Limited TV options in stateroom; half of the few available channels were promotional channels for the cruise line ... unknowingly paying $4 each for two bottles of water brought to our stateroom (didn't know there was a charge!)