Embarkation: Brilliant, we had VIP but it would not have mattered it was very efficient we were on board in less than 20 minutes.
Dining: Empire Room Dining, first class each time we went was a new experience staff as through-out the whole ship were fantastic. Always smiling, courteous, attentive and wonderful to interact with, we loved the Dining room entertainment each time we were there it made the meal special. Sure we had to wait a few times as it was busy, we had Your Time dining. So what do people think they are that important they should be seated straight away. There were 2681 people on our cruise, the staff did a marvellous job particularly in the eating areas, to look after everyone so well.
La Playa Grill: Food first class heaps of choice and it was always a busy part of the ship all meal times provided a more than adequate array of different foods catering for just about everyone. Practically liked the hot sandwich and wrap bar and the Pizza and Ice Cream 24 hours a day, is a great idea.
Fat Jimmy's BBQ: Deck 10, 12-2.30 daily fantastic alternative for lunch, out in the open, again food first class, service the same excellent.
Nouveau Restaurant: Five star dining in a beautiful part of the ship, let me say I have been lucky enough due to my club affiliation to attend plenty of five star restaurants around Australia the "Nouveau" is as good as any. Food and service first class for a $35 cover charge.
****It has been noted elsewhere that there was a distinct lack of use of the hand sanitation units. I think this reflected more about the people who didn't chose to use them as they were certainly provided in every meal area. "You can lead a horse to water" it is not a fault of the operators.
Spa & Fitness: Very well appointed Gym didn't use it ourselves. We only walked several times around the outside which is half a kilometre around on deck 10, it was an outstanding facility for those inclined to want to use a Gym.
Family & Children: The Spirit would adapt to whatever the numbers were on board we didn't want a lot children about and selected our cruise accordingly. For the 40 or so children on our cruise they were well catered for. We had a number young family's with kids in pushers and the like all seemed to be having a great time.
Shore Excursions: We planned our own and enjoyed all the ports we called on. There seemed to be no complaints from people who took the organised tours, however they are expensive most know that.
Entertainment: We thought it was outstanding a great variety of shows and we enjoyed most of them. Comedy Club first week we had Gavin Baskervill (average) and Greg Sullivan brilliant. Second week we had Simon Palomares and Hung Lee both outstanding. The Spirit has its own 10 piece band led by Musical director Omar Lateef, plus a dozen dancers and four singers Ralph, Kim, Lisa & Jeff all very talented and they put on some outstanding shows. Also along the trip we were treated to some brilliant performers. PiP Comic Illusionist (Okay), Strings Alive husband and wife team Violin, Guitar, Piano & Vocals Brilliant. Chris Powley "THE VOICE" sensational two nights, second night Elvis show was as good as I've seen and I have seen them all (Elvis to the Max & Mark Andrew included). Mark Anthony, Comedy Hypnosis show very good if like that sort of thing I'm luke warm on it myself. Rebecca Verrier, great voice soul and Motown. Jeremy Ansley, Comedy Juggler very talented excellent show. Other entertaining spots around the ship Geoff in the Piano Bar and Keith in the Casino, Atrium and Serenity. Both very talented also a band Music Manila played in Club Cool could play anything very talented our favourite was their rendition of Guns and Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine".
All the entertain staff work hard, led by Cruise Director Skip Lyons nice guy very approachable and quite a funny bloke. We spent a lot of time at the Karaoke with Roly, who did a great job. Fantastic selection of songs you can sing just about anything, lot of fun. There is plenty of Bingo, fake horse races, trivia, deck games and competitions. The pools, spas, and waters slides were great, mini golf excellent. Serenity is a popular adults only area at the back of the ship, very nice space great for a sun bake and read. There are plenty of Party activities on allocated nights which proved popular. Also a very well appointed Night Club that never had anyone in it perhaps the patrons on our cruise were a bit past night clubs, however it was a fantastic room.
Casino: Was a nice facility however no much action at the tables a number of tables lay idle with no players. Reason I think was the limits were too high another attempt at extracting maximum dollars that seemed to backfire. Pokies very popular as they are on land.
TV in your cabin is watchable if you have time to watch it, can be informative and has some old movies to watch.
Cabin: We had an Ocean Suite on deck seven it was outstanding in every way, space, bathroom and appointments first class. It was kept in immaculate condition by our cabin staff like the rest of the ship's staff they are brilliant.
Value for Money: Considering the standard of our cabin, food and entertainment I thought the price was cheap only the individual can be the judge of that. You must be mindful of the fact that the cruise company is out to extract every dollar they can from you while you are on board. Shops, Art Auctions, Photo's you name it around every corner is something they can make money on. Nothing new there my P&O Cruise was the same.
Drinks are expensive but not outrageous Beer almost all Aussie Crown Lager, Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Carlton Dry, Fat Yak Pale Ale, Pure Blonde Premium all $7.95. If you have it out of the tap same price the glass is 375 ml. XXXX Gold, Tooheys Extra Dry, Tooheys New, Cascade Premium Light, Hahn Premium & Premium Light, Tooheys Old, XXXX Summer Bright Lager $6.95. Guinness 440ml $7.95, Corona, Heineken & Stella Artois $6.95. CIDER Bulmers Apple Cider 568ml $11.95, Mokai Apple Cider, Mokai Cactus Lime Cider and Strongbow $7.95. Soft drinks $2.25, Water $2.25 - $5.50 depending on size, Energy Drinks $5.50. Cocktails range from $8.50 daily special to $10.50, Martinis $10.25. Mixed Spirits range between $6.95 to $10 depending on what you have.
Internet cost is outrageous and the Cafe is hardly used $29 a day or a cruise total price of $155 it is wireless throughout the ship how it worked I don't know but I noticed a number of passengers were using their Ipads and the like without complaint. I preferred the in port Internet cafes at $2 an hour.
Public Rooms: Like the rest of the ship the Public Rooms were spotless and the level of cleanliness throughout the entire ship was first class, a staff member was cleaning up the second something hit the deck. Likewise outside the ship was hosed down, windows consistently cleaned day in and day out.
Debarkation: Went very smoothly apart from the fact we were given an approx time to depart as we were leaving with our own luggage. We were called an hour earlier than that time no much good if you had arranged someone to pick you up its minor but could have been better. Port was busy as you would expect not many cabs about, however nothing to do with the shipping operators.
Big Negative: The Sports Bar, great bar, terrific barman, done up with all the club colours we know and love but the Sport on the large number of TV's is American ESPN to be precise. If the Carnival Spirit is serious about becoming an Aussie boat this must be fixed sooner rather than later. I was aware of this important fact before we got on the ship which has been here since October. I contacted Carnival head office to make them aware. It didn't bother us as the two weeks we were on the ship there was literary nothing to watch. However when I discussed the matter with Skip Lyons (Cruise Director) he agreed and wasn't looking forward to the start of the AFL and NRL seasons. To use his words "I'll have a riot on my hands", he had fielded many complaints in January during the Australian Open Tennis. He urged me to let the company know as he had done for the last three months.
Summary: We had a great time on a great ship and I would recommend it to anyone. The ships interior design is not for everyone but it is different and we quite liked it but more importantly everything worked well and the staff was fantastic. We look forward to doing it again in the not too distant future.