We have never cruised before, so can't compare the ship to other cruise lines. However, we thought the Carnival Spirit was a fantastic cruise ship and thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.
Booking: We originally booked two triple interior cabins. About a month afterwards we were offered two triple balconies for the same price, which we changed to interconnecting rooms with balconies. The extra space and not having to share with the kids was fantastic. The staff at the call centre were always very helpful and a pleasure to talk to.
Embarking/Disembarking: Very quick and efficient. Great when you have small children. Very friendly staff welcoming us to the port both times.
Cabins: The cabins were spacious, with great shower and bathroom facilities. We didn't use the balcony as much as we would have liked (too many other things to do), but enjoyed the view. The cabin service was outstanding. Everything was cleaned up and sorted out for us in the morning and evening. My kids loved the towel animals and made requests every evening.
Dining: Never had a problem getting a seat in the Lido deck for 6 of us. We received assistance from a lovely staff member from Estonia who realised that it was difficult to collect food for 4 young children. Loved the variety of food, some of which changed daily. The pizza was delicious but sometimes difficult to get the correct order, especially when the kids tried to order. It would be good to have serviettes not wrapped in cutlery, as we needed more serviettes than utensils. The food in the main dining room was delicious and always warm. We had a fixed dining time, which may have made a difference. High praise for the waiters who kept our kids (and us) constantly entertained. They also assisted in cutting the kids' food into bite size pieces when it was obvious that we required assistance (without us having to ask). The 5 minutes singing and dancing towards the end of the meal was very entertaining.
Kid's Club: Our kids were in the three different Camp Carnival age groups.
2-5 year olds: Loved it. Bring make-up remover to take off the never ending face-paint (which the kids loved). Our two kids were very proud of the artwork they made (although the 3 year old didn't do much).
6-8 year old: More than loved it. Never wanted to leave.
9-11 year old: Had a bit of a rocky start at the beginning (he had trouble understanding the activities), but continued to try and really enjoyed the last few days. He came back with big smiles and talked non-stop about the friends he made.
Entertainment: We always found things to do. However, having a break from 4 young kids meant that doing nothing was also very enjoyable. Really enjoyed the cooking demonstration.
Serenity: Never had problem getting a space. One sunny morning had the option of the hammock, sun loungers or cane furniture (all in the shade). Arrived after dropping the kids to camp, which may have made a difference. Other times relaxed on the comfy sofas.
Pools and Spas: Always had plenty of space for a dip. Our younger kids tried swimming across the pool, which took less than a minute. Saw security stopping kids from running around the pool.
Security: I saw security talking to teenagers, but never saw why. The teenagers spend a lot of time in the Jungle Walk and seem to have an honour system going on, as I saw plenty of electronic devices just left there.
Staff: Can't speak more highly about them.
Other passengers: The friendliest people we have ever met on holiday. Everyone chatted to us in the pools, the lifts, the corridors, etc... One the way to the Nouveau Restaurant we got in the lift with three teenage boys who noted our elegant dress-up and asked if we were going somewhere nice. They then told us the quickest way to get to the restaurant. The younger teenagers in the Jungle Walk complemented my 5 year old's dress on elegant night, which made her very happy.
Australia Day: Loved the concert. Well organised by Carnival and made memorable by the passengers.
Overall we had a fantastic time and highly recommend the cruise to families with young children.