This was our second cruise (also cruised P&O) so don't know how qualified I am to write a review but here goes......
To begin with, the embarkation process was quick and painless. One blink and we were on! Lovely lunch served in the buffet and bags at our rooms not long after. We were cruising as a group of 8 (4 adults and 4 teenage children). Disembarkation was the same...off in a flash (at end of cruise).
The ship. Carnival Spirit is a lovely big ship, with lots of "spaces" to spend your day. Can be a bit daggy in some areas (a little dark perhaps??) but lights up at night and looks quite grand. Bars, great pools and spas (spas very popular...always full!) on the Lido deck and the most lovely serene adults only space on the Serenity Deck. Our weather wasn't great so we always managed a pod, a deck chair or even a hammock to relax on! I think that if the weather had been real "pool weather" that area may have packed out quite early in the day. Our 4 teenagers all used the kids club which they really enjoy and made lots of friends. After day 2, we hardly saw them and had a meeting time for dinner so we knew they were still with us! The gym is so well equipped and a great place to start the day (although gets a lot less busy as the day goes on). Great spa in the gym area too which is hardly ever full so a good place to relax. Amazing views from all gym windows. Lovely airy area.
The food. The buffet food was great and seemed to never end. One meal rolled into another with great variety. Only downfall here was that the buffet was always busy so sometimes had to walk around for while to get a table. Afternoon tea in the Empire dining room was really lovely. They don't really advertise this so you need to know it is on (hardly anyone there!) and this is between 3-4 every day. A kind of "High tea" experience. We always had breakfast and lunch in the buffet and dinner at the Empire Restaurant and really enjoyed all of our meals. Nothing was too much trouble in the Empire Restaurant...great service. 24 hour free pizza and ice cream was great and the kids loved this (always had a pizza after their time in the kids club) and us adults loved it too, nothing like a lovely freshly made pizza at 1am after a drink at the bar and some fun in the casino. The grill on the Lido deck was really lovely too. We didn't try any of the other restaurants on board...no need.
Heaps to do on board and I have to say that we didn't do everything. There were trivia games, golf games, bingo and all of your usual cruise stuff. Great duty free shopping as well! The shows were good although it gets quite rocky in the theatre area. Apparently the comedians were fantastic but we always seemed to miss this (probably drinking in the bar!!!). Really get out and enjoy the Serenity Area...it was really lovely. Oh, the pools are great too and the one in the Serenity Area is heated.
Ports. Disembarkation using the tender process was okay. A bit of a wait at our first port (Mare) so get your number to disembark early. Isle of Pines was quicker and Noumea was good as it was straight off the boat onto land! (although we docked at the industrial port so get ready for smog and shipping containers to be your view for the day!). Didn't do port excursions but just did our own thing which worked well for us.
We found all staff to be friendly and helpful at all times, the ship was spotlessly clean at all times. Food was of high quality. Kids club entertained the teens and Serenity area entertained us adults. I wont ramble on anymore but just say that I know everyone's experience is different but I read some of these reviews and I wonder if we were on the same ship???? I guess sometimes people who go to the trouble to write reviews have not had a great experience but I'm spreading the word as I could not really fault our experience. Like I said, only our second cruise but we have travelled the world extensively and I know good service when I come across it. I would absolutely recommend Carnival Spirit and looking forward to seeing what Carnival Legend has to offer when it comes to Australia next year. Happy cruising everyone!