This was our first cruise and were a bit apprehensive given some of the comments on this site but we had a ball and have rebooked to go again next year.
Staff - every single crew member was amazing. Friendly, cheerful and very helpful doing the tough and dirty jobs Australians wont do. Cabin steward was fantastic, cleaned our cabin perfectly every morning and did a turn down service every evening while we were out at dinner.
Cleanliness - The ship is very, very clean, all public areas, toilets and cabins were constantly being cleaned by the hard working crew. Cleanest gym I have ever been in.
Embarkation - very fast, we were onboard and enjoying lunch by 1 PM.
Decor - Yes, it was glitzy and over the top but its a ship made for the US market, what do expect? Its all in good fun.
Food - Not a problem, only had one bad meal in the main dining room, brought it to our waiters attention and it was replaced immediately without question. Every other meal was fine, we had dinner there every night. Nouvea was worth a visit, $35 well spent.
La Playa buffet was slightly lesser quality but its a buffet so what do you think you will be getting? You are fooling yourself if you expect 5 star here. It was busy at peak times but that will happen when 2000 people want to eat lunch. Plenty of alternatives were available - BBQ on deck 10, food always available on the pool deck and pizza ran 24 hours. Main dining room was always open for dinner and breakfast. Cant understand what some people on here whinging about it, maybe too lazy to walk 2 minutes to another food venue.
Tendering - Well organised with a ticket system, first come first served with 4 boats operating at both beach visits, never waited more than 10 minutes.
Entertainment - fantastic, really entertaining shows in the main lounge. Its a credit to the singers and dancers how good a job they do on a moving platform. Musicians were outstanding, as well as performing in the main lounge they played in a lounge a number of times, we didn't miss a performance as they were great.
Philipino cover band played in one of the clubs every night as well as the pool deck during the day a few times.
Duty Free - spirits prices in the duty free shop were excellent, they are now price matching ports they visit. I paid $30 for 2 one litre bottles of Jim Beam.
Activities - Something going on all the time, plenty to do or if you want to just relax and do nothing, thats fine as well.
Beer prices are an absolute rip off. $8.25 for a local beer is simply price gouging. Luckily we managed to take some of our own drink onboard, you tube will show you how :)
Having said that, cocktails were good value at $10.50. I don't know why beer is so expensive when spirits are so cheap.
KIDS - I don't blame Carnival at all, it is bogan parents not controlling their feral kids. Carnival is a 3 star cruise line so you have to expect Westies can afford to go.
We went in the school holidays so we had to expect there would be loads of kids. They did go a bit crazy in the main pool and spa but there was security staff stopping them running too wild. 10 days is just too long a cruise for kids. Serenity was the ideal get away - very peaceful there as well as on deck 10 or our balcony.
Shore Excursions - Tours booked through the ship are very expensive, better off going ashore and getting a local tour yourself, just make sure you will be back in time for the ship's departure.
Don't buy or hire the ship's snorkelling gear, their price is a rip off. You can rent it at Mystery Island for $15 or buy a set in Noumea for $35.
Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise on the Spirit and we have booked to go again next year, this time not in school holidays.