Cruise Ship: Carnival Spirit
Cruise Destination: Mexican Riviera
Cruise Date: April 2, 2005
Guest Contributor: Wayne Lundberg
Our second cruise on this same ship in six months. We are some thirty miles off the coast of Baja, approaching Cabo San Lucas by tomorrow morning, and one day almost to the hour since leaving San Diego on the Carnival Spirit with over 3,000 souls on board. Two paying passengers per crew member.
Advice to new and repeat cruise aficionados: A single factor worth repeating; it's a matter of attitude. Go with the right attitude and any problem fades into insignificance. So I did what I preach in my management classes and pasted a smile on my face. I smiled at the Mexican family shouldering their way into the embarkation line, and they back off. I smiled at the security people and they were courteous. I smiled a broad greeting at the ticket counter clerk and got prompt, smiling attention in return.
Attitude = response. Show a smile, get a smile. Show patience, get service beyond the call of duty. So far. Hope I don't have to edit this observation at a later date; after all, we are only into the eight-day trip by one eighth!
This attitude thing was made quite easy a week before sailing when we opened a letter from Carnival Vacation Cub giving us our new cabin number--K 5173, an upgrade from a window cabin to a balcony! And when we entered our cabin, a fine bottle of Merlot from Dickinson, the CEO himself, thanking me for my long letter of complaints from our experience with the Vacation Club fiasco. Being further resolved as I write.
We had asked for early seating and when boarding we discovered it was late sitting. No problem, we went straight to the dining room and the maitre de asked if wanted to sit with a group or alone and the change was made in less than a minute.
Comfort, we are finding, is in the detail and not in the size. The "staterooms" are as small as on the sales literature, to repeat a bit of humor by Todd, our first trip Tour Director. But then you discover your oversize suitcase really does fit under the bed, and there are enough drawers and closet space to accommodate all that junk we brought on board.
The detail. Can't turn on the shower hot water without having first turned on the cold. This is a wonderful feature especially since boiling-hot water is instantly available. I don't know if by a nearby instant hot water heater, but most likely from continuously running water through the pipes in an effort to exchange engine cooling water to save on fuel costs which makes a lot of sense. Rather than spill engine coolant into the ocean, they chill it first by running it through our showers and sinks! Also, the tap water is distilled water so don't buy expensive bottled water! (Note, if you open the bottle of water on the counter you will get a surprisingly large bill on your minibar account. Drink tap water!)
And speaking of energy: I tried to trace the hydraulic fluid pumped by exercising machines in the Fitness Center into the engine room and failed. There are over 50 machines, most occupied by sweating, grunting, huffing and puffing people pouring their energy into these machines. The machines should be connected to generators and thus feed into the ship's propulsion system!
Tried to get onto the bridge but that feature is no longer available on cruise ships since 9/11, same with the engine room. No visitors allowed. Also, no shore visitors are allowed either. On our first trip on the Carnival Spirit I was outraged at the high prices one had to pay for a drink or a beer. So on this trip I drained a five quart box/bladder of wine over a few weeks before sailing. I then took the bladder out of the box, cleaned it, tested it, and poured a bottle of Scotch into the bladder which then went into my suitcase. Even if they use an Xray to detect bottles, the bladder is invisible. So I smuggled a bottle of Scotch to enjoy a nightcap without paying a king's ransom. My wife took her Mexican leather covered flask of Brandy and it went through the receiving machines with no problem. Many people we talked with during the cruise say that they never have had any problem bringing a bottle of hooch on board in their luggage.
There seem to be enough free activities to keep everybody who needs that kind of stimulation happy. During our first cruise we were quite content to simply explore, linger here and there, meet people, dance and occasionally do one of the activities. On this cruise my wife is going for broke in participating in as many activities as possible while I sit by a window in a comfortable chair and read Michener's Alaska.
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