For those that like to see the reviews on the main boards so that they can comment, I'll post one day per post ... Carnival Spirit November 20 – 28, 2010 Mexican Riviera Saturday, November 20 This is my sixteenth cruise, sixth on Carnival, second on a Spirit class ship, but the first time on the Carnival Spirit. At the request from someone for more details, I write my reviews while on the ship, as the details are fresh in my mind. Something that I started with the last cruise is that I now have installed photo editing software on my laptop, so I now can provide pictures with the review on the Carnival forum (the review in the review section will only contain a link to the pictures). I had always wanted to do this cruise, even though I’ve been to two of the three ports before. The reason I wanted to do this cruise is that the Spirit class is my favorite class of Carnival ship, there is one new port I have not been to before and it is longer than one week (even just one extra day makes a difference). When I realized I could go for eight nights and it would only cost me three vacation days I booked it. After I booked this cruise the price just keep going up, and up and up. So I am glad I booked early before Carnival figured out how popular this cruise would be. Since I live less than three hours driving time from the port, I drove to the port this morning. It is raining, but I still make it in the estimated time of two and one half hours plus ten minutes for an unscheduled stop. My main concern with the rain is that I want to take pictures once I board the ship, and the rain will make this more challenging. I decide to rely on my GPS, even though I’ve been to the port several times. That turns out to add a little excitement to the trip. The GSP went out about halfway down. After a little fumbling around, I realize the fuse that goes in the charger has fallen out (apparently a long time ago, and the unit was working off the internal battery). At first a little panic sets in. Then I realize I’ve been to the port several times and know how to get there (although this will be the first time I leave from the port on a cruise ship). The only real change will be that I will end up at the parking lot across the street from the ship. It cost more, but since it is raining it might be a good idea to park there anyway. Soon the rolling hills that one drives over in northern San Diego County are in front of me and I relax and continue my drive. There is only one place I am worried about, that being where the 5 splits into the 5 and 805. Still, a wrong turn here will only cost me 30 minutes at the most and I will still have plenty of time to make the ship. Then I start to notice that civilization is starting to show up along the freeway. It is 10am and I might find a store open that carries fuses, allowing me to continue as I had originally planned. I get off at a good looking exit and there on the other side of the street is a hardware store. Ten minutes and 84Â¢ later my problem is solved. I left home at 8:00am and arrive at the port at 10:40am. I park at Park & Go (right at the end of the airport runway) and wait for the shuttle, which apparently is not running on a frequent schedule. So for $7 + a $3 tip I catch a hired shuttle to the port. I later found out that this was a really good stroke of luck on my part. Those that were in line about one half hour after me waited about two hours in line, and in the rain, just to get into the secured port area. I was in line for perhaps five minutes. The Park & Go is $8 per day (with an online coupon – normally $10 per day). The parking lot across the street from the ship is $15 per day, so I am still coming out ahead. The luggage is being loaded into vans (one for the HAL Oosterdam and one for the Carnival Spirit). I fill out the health questionnaire and by 11:10 I am in a seat waiting to board, which is scheduled to begin at 11:30. And, as I type this I note that a wedding party is boarding. In fact now they are now boarding the VIPs, and since I am in zone two, it is time to shut down the laptop and board. It is now 11:45am. I sneak into my cabin and meet my cabin steward and tell him that I am going to drop off my carry-on luggage, which I do. Then I get out of his way and go up on deck for some picture taking opportunities. As I suspected, the rain put a damper on the photos. Still I ended up with 162 photographs. This is kind of low for me on a first day, but still not too bad. I got all the photos I wanted and since there is no sun, I don’t have any harsh shadows. I also sneak in a little lunch before the buffet gets too crowded. As I look out across the bay I noticed a third cruise ship. Then I saw the whale tail funnel. Of course I then realized it was the Carnival Splendor which is in San Diego for repairs. Soon there is an announcement that the muster drill will begin in ten minutes. Ten minutes later the ship’s horn goes off. Everyone starts to go to their muster stations. Then there is an announcement that the muster drill would start shortly. This was followed by an alarm. Apparently everybody (including yours truly) reacted to the Oosterdam’s muster drill horn. Perhaps that was all for the good, because within minutes of the muster drill being over it started raining hard. We may have lucked out by being slightly early since the muster drill is outside. One really nice change was that we did not have to bring our life vests to the drill. Thank you Carnival! After the drill I headed off to the Fantail Bar to meet up with the others from the roll call. It seems to be a nice friendly group. Many of them had met on an earlier cruise; however, I was new to the group (though I believe I was the second person to post on the roll call). The Oosterdam departed first. We apparently had a lot more luggage to load. While waiting for the Carnival Spirit to leave I ended up taking to a family that was on its fourth Thanksgiving cruise. Finally at 6:00pm with the ship backing from the dock I headed back to my cabin. Even though I was early to the port, my luggage was not early to the cabin. Nonetheless, upon my arrival to the cabin I noticed my smaller checked luggage in the cabin. So if worst comes to worst, I will not have to wear the same clothing for a week. I also notice that we are now moving forward, but it is raining, so I am canceling plans to write this out on the balcony tonight and instead I am updated it from inside a nice dry cabin. As I am typing this my bigger checked luggage arrives (so I am all set). It takes less time to unpack then it did to pack, probably because I don’t have to decide what to unpack. According to the Travel Channel (that is what I call the ship’s information channel – channel 14) it is 7:25pm and we are moving at 20 knots (23 miles per hour). Well dinner is soon, and I am going to put on a different shirt. Nothing much doing tonight except for a welcome aboard talk, and since I’ve been welcomed aboard several times, I don’t feel I any need to attend. So I’ll come back to the cabin after dinner and relax, since I’ve been walking up and down this ship several times and my feet hurt. There is a very long line to get into the restaurant, so I figure I’ll just sit down and wait. As everyone walks past me I notice there are a lot of children in the late seating. I wonder if this is by choice or did early seating sell out? I’m at a table with another single, a father and son from Hawaii, and three generations of mothers/daughters. However, the three women seem interested in moving to the early seating (if that is possible), so I’m not sure if they will be at our table tomorrow night. As we get to talking I realize I am the most experienced cruiser of the group. It seems like a fun group. The waiter is top notch with a good sense of humor. Not a bad group to spend seven dinners with (I’ve got reservations for the Supper Club on Monday the 22nd). During dinner I was attacked by a pirate. While I am used to this, when I look up and there is no photographer in sight I begin to wonder what is going on. It took a while for the photographer to get around to the other side of the table so that he could take my picture. I end up having a chicken appetizer and shrimp dinner. The waiter is going around asking everyone how they like their dinner. However, when the waiter gets to me he doesn’t ask me the same question. I’ve already finished my dinner. So instead the waiter asks me if I would like seconds, which I accept. For desert I want something cold, so I opt for chocolate ice cream. When I return to the cabin the TV remote is no where to be found. I check the towel animal, but it didn’t eat it. I check all the typical places the cabin steward might put it, but it is not there. Believing the cabin steward would not intentionally hide it, I figure the most likely explanation is that he knocked it off the end table where I left it when he turned down the bed. Sure enough when I check under the bed I find it. Well, I guess I was more tired than I thought. I don’t know what time I woke from my reading the fun times while lying on the bed, but I just decided it was time to make it official and go to sleep. Carnival Spirit docked in Manzanillo. The forward pool on embarkation day. The dome (center) pool on embarkation day. The line of disembarking passengers from the HAL Oosterdam and Carnival Spirit trying to leave the port. The lower level of the main dining room. A towel animal.