I have read a number of negative reviews about this ship, however, wasn't deterred as I believe a holiday is what you make it. Hubby and I embarked in Sydney after a 2-3 hr delay caused by the police investigation into the passengers who went missing overboard the previous night. I was impressed with the way this was handled - the announcements once on board were handled with sensitivity and provided the new influx of passengers with the right amount of information. Embarkation, apart from the initial delay in getting on board, was smooth and trouble free.
I have cruised extensively over the years and this cruise was a spur of the moment decision based on the fantastic pricing and the right time for a break away. This was my first cruise with Carnival. I am a BIG Princess fan (Elite member) and I have travelled P&O Australia several times.
I liked Carnival Spirit - all ships are different and I didn't mind her decor. I thought the Empire Restaurant was beautiful - a really lovely space to enjoy dinner.
We had a balcony cabin on deck 7. The cabin was clean and I actually preferred the bathroom layout to Princess and P&O. Also liked the sofa in the cabin. The bed was pretty firm, but OK. Our cabin staff were lovely and did a great job. We had towel animals on our bed every night along with a chocolate. The TV in the room worked well, but was a bit disappointed with what was available to watch. Still, not there to watch TV are we?
The public rooms were clean and well maintained. We liked the atrium area for a pre-diner drink and entertainment.
Dining on board was of a very good standard. The buffet area on the pool deck was spread out with so much variety. Chopsticks was the most popular and there was a theme every day as well. So as well as Asian and the theme of the day, the choices range from pies, pizza, salads, sandwiches, wraps, hamburgers, pies, fries, sausages and mash, cheese, and desserts. And I'm sure I haven't covered everything. Then there's also Fat Jimmy's BBQ - with a great range of BBQ meats, vegies and salads.
We had dinner every night in the Empire Restaurant. The quality of the food and the service was very high. I couldn't fault it. We also tried the Noveau Steakhouse. There is a cover charge, but it was excellent. Drinks - spirits and beers were a little pricey. Wine by the glass and bottle not too bad. Cocktails were a reasonable price.
The entertainment was good. We did not participate in everything, but there is enough to keep passengers entertained during the day and at night. We loved the Serenity area - kid free, so it is quieter and if you are lucky enough you can set yourself up in a pod or a hammock and enjoy the views.
This cruise was definitely value for money. Tipping is optional and we tipped our cabin staff and dining staff. They provided exceptional service.
Disembarkation was trouble free.
I would cruise on Carnival Spirit again. Very enjoyable. Like I said a holiday is what you make it. Don't dwell on the little niggles if they crop up. This is a family cruise ship. There will be kids, probably quite a few, even during school time. Kids are kids - they are noisy, boisterous and energetic. If you want perfect, then you best save for a 6* experience. I don't let negative people impose on my holiday time, what a waste of energy. We had a great time. And we are young 50 something's. Great trip Carnival.
The standouts were: Wonderful Crew from Officer level down, Excellent standard of food - both taste and presentation, Clean and well maintained ship.