We went on the Carnival Spirit Southern Itinerary on February 19 through February 27, 2004. We absolutely loved this cruise and this ship. We are a family of 9 (mom, dad, aunt and 6 teenagers) The Spirit is a lovely ship. I love the dEcor. In my opinion she is more tasteful and less gaudy than other Carnival ships I have been on. But let me back up and start at the beginning... This was a last minute vacation for us (2 weeks prior to sail date). I got a great price on 3 category 8G from cruise.com We flew out of Boston (Logan) to Miami (International Airport) on 2/18. We got non-stop flights on American Airlines for $186.00 roundtrip per person, an excellent deal! Unfortunately American Airlines misplaced our luggage (13 pieces for 9 of us) Along with about 100 other passengers. It was stressful. Many people were very upset, but what can you do? The language and attitude of a few of my fellow passengers horrified me. The agents at American Airlines were terrific, they put up with a lot of crap from angry travelers when it was not their fault that someone in Boston did not load the bags. We were in line to fill out the missing luggage paperwork and decided to leave and handle it over the phone. We found our driver, went to the Radisson (nice 3 star hotel, but room service was lousy) and I decided we better get some rest in case we have to get up early and shop for some cruise-wear.
Hotel: I got 4 rooms at the Miami Radisson for only $35.00 per room on Priceline. I hired transfers from Miami Center Transportation from the airport to the Radisson and then the following day to the Port for $11.00 per person total. We eventually went back to the Airport and got our luggage around noontime the next day. We got to the Port around 1PM and pull right up in front where very large men grabbed our bags for us and put them in the cage to be brought on board. (We tip of course, my husband is an especially generous tipper. Where I try to save money on the big-ticket items he gladly gives it away to the people who assist us and this works great for us.) We then go up the escalator and see no line at all. This was weird but we went along, showed ID's put our carry-ons on the conveyor belt, brought our completed fun pass paper work from the website, got our sail and sign cards and voila we were aboard! This was by far the easiest embarkation ever. As always we stop and get our photo taken. There are many opportunities to have your photo taken and we never pass on one! (As I tell my family "were only getting older...SMILE!") We know Carnival hopes we will go to the photo gallery and buy them and of course we do! We found our cabins easily and were very pleased.
The rooms were clean and the decks are large. My daughter was celebrating her 18th birthday and her cabin was decorated and the cake was there already. (We pre-ordered this on line) The layout was very good with plenty of closet space. I am happy to say that the TV programming while still limited has improved somewhat and we were kept up to date with weather and school closings through out Tennessee(?) We did not go on the cruise to watch TV. My kids rented movies a couple of nights. When looking directly down from our cabin we did not see the water, rather we saw the top of the life boats which was fine with me. After viewing our cabin we were off to the LaPLaya Grill for the welcome aboard buffet, yes! This was terrific. The space itself is nice and seating very comfortable sofa style looking out at the ocean. The food was excellent and the variety impressive. We went to the bar and bought us all fountain-soda cards. The kids had a blast on this Ship. They enjoyed the disco and the arcade, 24 hour pizzeria and frozen yogurt, hot tubs, pools, waterslide, gym, room service. There is plenty of public space on this Ship. This Ship never felt crowded. Together my family enjoyed the Pharaoh's Lounge: bingo, dance classes, game shows, karaoke, chess on lido and Arts & Crafts.