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January 25 through February 2, 2008 (Eight Days)
Balcony Stateroom #5158
This was our 51st cruise overall, and our 10th cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines.
It was a fund-raising cruise for the Stephen Ministry Program at our Church. Sixty-eight folks cruised with our ?Spirit Splendor? Group plus the Cruise Crazies Mascot ? Crazie.
Our chartered bus with 57 passengers departed Las Vegas at 6:30 AM on Friday, January 25th. The other cruise passengers either flew or drove to the Port of San Diego.
The trip to the ship was six hours in duration during which we watched a movie and had a Trivia Challenge contest. Crazie rode ?Shot Gun? on the dashboard next to the bus driver so that she had a good view. We took lots of video of the trip.
We arrived at the San Diego Cruise Terminal at 1:15 PM which proved to be a perfect arrival time. After a little confusion over where we could unload the passengers and the luggage, we were dropped off right at the door with our hand luggage. The bus continued on into the bus parking area and we did not see our larger luggage again until it arrived at our staterooms.
The Check In process was very quick and easy. Roe and I had VIP Check In due to our Platinum Status, but to be honest we did not get aboard the ship any faster than the rest of our group. There was simply no waiting for anyone. After a slight backup at the Security Check Point, we dodged the photographers and boarded the ship. Elevators were jammed, so we walked up three flights to our deck. Not the brightest thing I ever did with hand luggage, but it beat waiting for an elevator with everyone else.
Our stateroom was ready with a bottle of chilled champagne and a basket of fruit and other goodies waiting for us. Dropped off our hand luggage and headed up to lunch on the Lido Deck #9.
The mandatory Lifeboat Drill took place just before sailing out of San Diego. Never much fun, but this one was less painless than most and well organized.
Our luggage had arrived at our stateroom when we returned from Lifeboat Drill so we unpacked and skipped the Sailaway Party on deck.
For those of you interested in such things, the Spirit was delivered on April 12, 2001 and is 88,500 tons. Total guest capacity is 2680 with a crew of 920.
Carnival staterooms are always a little larger than the average. And this was true on the Spirit. Plenty of storage and hanging areas. There new ?Comfort Bed? is the best we have had at sea. Bathroom was well laid out and the shower was fairly large for a cruise ship. Temperature regulation in the shower was perfect with no variation.
Our group was assigned to an almost private area in the rear of the Empire Dining Room at the first seating. Our location made for a great time. One minor annoyance was the fact that this location led to a lot of vibration and engine noise. Not a major issue, but if I were sailing without a large group, I would avoid this area of the dining room.
On our first formal night we enjoyed dinner with Captain Antonio Marchetti and his Senior Officers. This proved to be a very elegant and enjoyable experience. This was our first dinner with a Carnival Captain, although we have dined with Sitmar, Celebrity, Princess and RCI Captains in the past.
Our Ports of Call for this cruise were: Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa and Manzanillo, Mexico. We took none of the ships tours since we have been to all of these ports several times. We did hear many good reports on them from others in our group.
We found the food aboard the Spirit to be some of the best we have experienced on all of our cruises!! I thought the bread selections were rather boring, but Roe loved them. Go figure. Service was excellent to outstanding throughout the ship.
The production shows in Pharaoh?s Place showroom were perhaps the best we have ever seen aboard ship. There are some sight line problems in the showroom due to pole placement, so be careful where you sit. Never had a problem getting a good seat and there was no need to arrive very early as we have found on many ships. The guest performers were IMHO pretty much what we expect on most cruise ships.
The days were filled with all of the typical shipboard activities. I don?t think we ever lacked for something fun to do or experience.
Some very nice dance floors on board. There was a group of 127 ballroom dancers on board and they selected the Spirit because of the many dance floors. If you have not noticed dance floors and card rooms are getting smaller and smaller on the newer cruise ships.
There are a lot of excellent gift shops on board the Spirit so shoppers will have lots of selections. All I bought was a new Spirit pin for Crazie.
The only Art Auction we attended was on the last day and we did buy one piece for our Son and Daughter-in-Law for their upcoming anniversary.
Casino seemed to draw a lot of action and was spacious and well laid out.
In summary, this was a fantastic cruise which I would rate as a 9.9 on a 10 point scale.