My partner of 23 years Lenny and I sailed on the same October 2009 Halloween Carnival Spirit cruise of the Mexican Riviera that Mark and Dale wrote about extensively here. It was our first time on a Carnival ship, and we were overal favorably impressed, especially as the deal that had been arranged for our group of 20+ guys made it very affordable. The cost of $650 per person included all port taxes, gratutities, a complimentary bottle of wine in our cabin, and a party in one of the lounges. We had an inside cabin, which may not be to everyone’s taste.
We had reservations about sailing on a Carnival ship, as we had heard horror stories about the wild and noisy partying/debauchery and the kind of people that were attracted to this line. Well, it is true to a large extent. The passengers tend to be younger and more party-oriented than, say, the sedate elderly crowd we encountered on the Holland America Alaska cruise the year before. Some of the shipboard entertainment is pretty mindless, like racing on deck while holding a pile of rubber chickens, or men strutting like Tarzan, or barking like dogs, or showing off the hairy chest. That silliness was a turnoff. On the other hand the evening cabaret shows were terrific, resembling what you’d find in Las Vegas. If that’s what you’re looking for on a cruise, you certainly get your money’s worth!
The food was better than expected. We had a great Russian waiter named Igor. The fine quality of the food was one of the biggest surprises of the trip. It is not up to the high standards of, say, Oceania cruise lines, but pretty darn good. Over the course of eight days you get many of the basics: lobster, filet mignon, boeuf stroganoff, with good-tasting soups, salads, and more exotic appetizers, and adequate desset selection. The cheese course was ordinary; Costco has a much better selection!
But for our gay group of 20+ gays and Mark and Dale’s group of 6 gays, the ship is overwhelmingly heterosexual. I’d think twice about going on this cruise (or any cruise) without a bunch of gay friends, unles Atlantis or some other gay travel company has booked a number of cabins on the ship.
For the money, a cruise on a Carnival “fun” ship is worth considering, especially if you are part of a younger crowd (20s, 30s and 40s) and like a party atmosphere. If you are looking for academic lectures on the destinations you will be visiting, or high-brow entertainment, or a mature well-heeled crowd, you may wish to look elsewhere, and spend much more $$$. Make sure there are plenty oif gay folk on board to add to your enjoyment.