First I will break the cruise down to two sections: GOOD and NOT SO GOOD (BAD)
GOOD: Our cabin was great (7246 on Verandah Deck). It seemed to be roomier than the last Princess cruise we did and we also had an extended balcony. This came about because the ship is recessed in to allow for the tender boats and when you have an extended cabin you do look down onto the tender boats, but that did not deter from the view from the balcony re looking out to sea. We spent a lot of time on our balcony, having breakfast there and in our room a number of times during the cruise.
Staff was exceptional friendly and at night (every night) you had your little towel animals on the bed or hanging off the ceiling greeting you as you returned to your cabin after dinner, together with your bed turned down and chocolates on the pillows.
Serenity section on Deck 9 was excellent. Some cruise ships charge for this area but there was no charge for it on Carnival Spirit. Quite a large area with its own bar, pool, sun lounges and eating tables if required. There was a rule that whilst you were in your lounge you could stay as long as you wanted but if you left you could only reserve it for 40 minutes. This was not policed very well until a few of us complained and the matter was resolved. In all it was still a quite and comfortable place to relax and have a swim - NO KIDS ALLOWED!
Lobbies near the lifts were nice and wide and gave plenty of room to get in and get off even if you had a pusher or wheel chair - also the lifts seemed to very fast going both up and down. We were on the 7th floor and walked to the 9th floor Bistro but got the lift to go down to 2nd and 3rd floors where all the action and shops were.
NOT SO GOOD (BAD):
Having travelled on other cruise lines before we really have become accustomed to Princess ships (being Platinum cruisers) and we have compared the Spirit to Princess:
The Atrium, the main focus of any cruise ship, was dull, dark and boring. The design of the atrium was shocking.
The Cruise Director, in our opinion, was hopeless. He was an Aussie and always came on the air with "G'Day, what another beautiful day in Paradise" even when we were on sea days. It got a bit boring.
His organisation skills were not the best, especially when it came to have the Australian Immigration people check our documents prior to arrival in Australia. There were numerous complaints to the Guest Services Desk and in turn numerous apologies from the Cruise Director as to the progress of the checking procedure. The way people were told to line up deck by deck was stupid and it left a lot of elderly people faint-hearted and quite ill. The heat in the hallways was at times unbearable.
Television in the cabin was virtually non-existent. A message came up all the time that said "Due to our geographical position television stations were not available". This message was still playing after we left Suva and as we were approaching Sydney. They had to throw in some very old movies (The Castle and Strictly Ballroom) which were repeated several times over the cruise. They even put The Castle on what they called the "Big Screen" in the Versailles Lounge and called them movie nights. The screen by the way was just a little bigger than a large TV .
Daily Activities - well if you liked trivia (which we do) you had something to do. But it was trivia this and trivia that with some other games thrown it to stop the boredom like arts and crafts, Bingo ($20 per game), and of course deck games.
The Dining Room was very nicely decorated. We were "Anytime Dining" which we would thoroughly recommend. It allowed us to go to the early show in the main theatre or the late show. Some of the acts that were organised by the Cruise Director were pathetic compared to other ships, although there were two very good song and dance, with glamourous outfits, shows.
Dress code in the Dining Room was not enforced which we thought was very bad. Even on "Dress Elegant" nights people came to dinner in t-shirts, flip-flops (thongs) and shorts. On one occasions a guy wore a bowler hat and some wore baseball caps into the restaurant (in the Fun Times newsletter it was stated that no t-shirts, thongs or shorts were accepted in the dining room at night) and these people were not spoken to. I think the staff were afraid to do anything.
The singing waiters were very good and entertained us while having dinner. Food was reasonable, but on two occasions when I ordered Australian Lamb Chops and on another when it was supposed to be Prime Rib, I could not cut the meat with the knife supplied. Even when I complained about the meal and before I could say "please replace my meal" the waiter asked me if it was "tough". He apparently had had other complaints.
As mentioned earlier our cabin was great but in the wardrobe there were coat hangers that defy understanding. They were a group of three hangers on one central bracket and to get to some of your clothes you had to take off 2 items to get to one - a strange set-up. Most probably put there to deter thieves.
Overall, after a few problems we still had a great cruise. The ship was nice, except for the above. The crew were excellent. The facilities were great. The Buffet was the big let-down but that is another story. I'll let you find out for yourselves.