San Diego - what a great place to start a cruise. Californian at its heart with a touch of Mexico thrown in and a real laid back vibe, this is the start of a quickie cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico over 5 days and a good way to become familiar with Carnival Spirit … set to become the newest and biggest ship to be deployed in Australia when she heads Down Under in October.


(Take a look our San Diego photo gallery.)

We arrived in a day earlier to take a quick look around San Diego before boarding and covered a fair bit of ground in one full day and two nights. Cruise ships dock right in the downtown area … or about a five minute walk really … which makes it one of the best port cities in the world and it's probably a little underrated. The highlight is the Gaslamp Quarter in the CBD which is a large slab of the city from 4th to 7th Streets which has redeveloped into a quality entertainment district featuring some pretty cool bars and restaurants and a really pumping atmosphere especially on weekends.

Parts of it is quite touristy but there are plenty of little local spots in amongst it all as well, like the Tivoli - a classic dive bar with some very interesting local people.

The beaches in this area are famous as well, and we only had time to hit Coronado Beach which is one of those classic white sand ones and it makes the LA beaches look pretty ordinary by comparison.

Anyway, the Carnival Spirit was docked right in downtown. Our sail out started with beautiful blue skies - although a little chilly - but a big storm hit as we sailed out and that killed it off a little, but never mind.

First impressions on board: it's a busy ship with lots to do, both day and night, and the decor is very art-deco and a recent refurb has Spirit looking pretty good. Suites have been freshened up by the looks of it as well, ahead of her Aussie sojourn.

Will try and get some ship photos up tomorrow and find out which of the "Aussification" changes have been made …