My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Spirit (8/01/13 - 20/01/13). This was our third cruise in a row having last year cruised on the P&O Jewel and the Dawn Princess in 2012. I understand this is a family ship and we were sailing in
school holidays. However a tiny minority of the 12-17 year age group were out of control at times (mainly late at night - where were the parents?) running along the hallways, stairs, etc. There were times when they were also playing the pokie machines in the casino but it appeared the staff would turn a blind eye to it.
Food and Beverage - I would rate the food in the buffet areas as 3 out of 5 - a better layout of the counters should be looked at during the next revamp as well as providing an ice cream area - presently you have to walk out to the pool area to get some. Quantity but not necessarily quality was the rule of thumb - the food was luke warm most of the time. The food quality in The Empire dining room was very good 4 out of 5 and the service was excellent. No one was encouraged or enforced to use the sanitizer in any of the food outlets - very disappointing. The price of a beer was $7.00 for a can/bottle or $8.00 from the tap. Cocktails and wine were reasonably priced. If you bought the cocktail of the day you also got to keep the plastic souvenir glass.
Stateroom - Our stateroom was of a good size with plenty of cupboard space and good amenities. An inside cabin -- the layout of the shower was good and the shower water actually stayed in the shower area.
Entertainment - Three of the comedians hired for the adult comedy shows were excellent. The Spirit dancers and singers were very good (especially the two leading ladies). The majority of the main entertainment acts were very good. Trevor the pianist in the Shanghai Piano Bar was excellent as were most of the entertainment provided at venues around the ship. You do need to get to the Pharoah's lounge at least 15 minutes before the show if you want a reasonable seat. The Punchliner's club seems too small to cater for the audience -- especially the late night adult shows.
Sauna (Male - Dry & Wet) - Excellent facility. Thoroughly clean throughout. Towels provided of a very good quality. The spa here is adults only.
Serenity Deck - Unless you got up at the crack of dawn (on non trip days) you had very little chance of getting a pod, hammock etc. People would leave their towels or some other apparel on the sun loungers to reserve them. The staff need to be less tolerant and ensure that this practice is stopped - first come first served.
Casino - Having spoken to a few of the regular users of the pokie machines on-board, that it was assumed that the machines payouts were altered by Carnival so that winnings amounts were good at the start of the trip but were largely non-existent in the last few days.
Sports Bar - What a waste of space!! Virtually empty on every day and night of this cruise and I think I know why? No Aussie or European sports. All the sports were American i.e. gridiron, baseball, basketball etc. The only plus for this place was it was the only place on-board you could get a Melbourne beer on tap - Carlton draught....
Gratuities -- There were no compulsory tips but also no opportunity to put money into a general tipping fund. We asked a couple of the crew at the customer service desk why this was so but they replied by saying they (the company) had no intention of setting one up in the near future - very disappointing that most of the hardest working members of the crew (and out of our sight) are not allowed to be rewarded by us appreciative cruisers!!
Embarkation and De-embarkation - Very efficient -- we arrived early and could drop off our bags and return at our designated time. The process to get on was quick but I do think the cruise desk could be more spread out. It was difficult to speak to the staff as everyone was squashed together. De-embarkations was very swift and efficient -- most people off the ship by 8am leaving a very long wait at the airport for us.
Decor - Personally I thought the main areas were dark. I heard someone describe it as tacky Las Vegas style and that summed it up for me.
Overall - We enjoyed our holiday and would go again but would like to try other ships to.