We were pleasantly surprised with Carnival Spirit. After reading alot of reviews I was a little apprehensive about travelling with Carnival. We are both 40 and travelled on our own. We have 2 children but they didn't come with us on this occasion but we will be bringing them with us next year.
We had an absolutely fantastic time. I was a little worried that the ship would be full of unruly children running around but it was not at all. There were plenty of children onboard but for the most part they were very well behaved.
We stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 4. It was very clean and spacious. The rooms are cleaned daily and you get clean towels twice a day. The towel animal and chocolates was a wonderful idea. It was so nice to come back to your cabin and have your bed turned down and the towel animal sitting on your bed. The bathroom was on the smallish side but it was practical and the shower was great. As for noise from the cabins above us. We hardly heard any noise. The cabins are quite sound proof. We would occasionally here what sounded like kids jumping from their bunk beds but that was very minimal and didn't worry us one bit.
The food and services on board was mind blowing. You could choose between the Empire Dining Room which was full table service for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner or you could dine on La Playa Grille which was buffet style dining. We chose to eat at La Playa Grille for breakfast and lunch and the Empire dining room for dinner. There was plenty of variety at both locations. We also went to the Noveau Restaurant one night which has a cover charge of $35 per head and it was out of this world. The lobster and steak was perfect not to mention the dessert. We didn't have any problems with the food on board at all. I have read alot of reviews where people have complained about the standard of food on board. All I can say is that they must be very very hard to please. The only little thing I could criticise about La Playa Grille was that it was pretty chilly in there most days but if you wore a light jumper you were fine.
We managed to always either get a pod, hammock or deck chair in the Serenity area. It was perfect for us as we didn't have our children with us. The spa wasn't too busy. Other travellers were very fair with not staying in the spa or pods for hours on end. If the spa in Serenity was full you could always go to the spa in the gym. The cocktails were of reasonable price being from $9.50 to $10.50. They also offered warm throw blankets for those of us that were a little chilly from the sea breeze on sea days.
We didn't spend anytime on the Lido deck where the other two pools were located. There were lots of kids and live music in there and the families seemed to be having a wonderful time with the games on offer for the entire family.
I couldn't believe the variety of entertainment on offer on board. There was a different show to see every night. We got to see two comedians, 2 broadway type shows, a hypnotist and an illusionist. They were repeated twice to cater for the two different dining times which was a fantastic ideas. Sea days also included a movie each day which didn't just cater for the kids, it also had some great adult movies on offer. Bingo was lots of fun but it was on the pricey side. In saying that the prizes on offer ranged from $300 to $2000 on the final day at sea. The Carnival singers and dancers were very professional and of a high standard. All the shows in the Pharaoh's palace were enjoyable and because they ran 2 shows each night it was never to overcrowded.
Ports & Shore Excursions
Unfortunately because of high winds we were unable to visit Mystery Island but that isn't Carnival's fault. They made sure there were plenty of activities on board for the day to compensate. We did get to visit Noumea, Isle of Pines and Lifou.
We chose the shore excursion to Amidee Island from Noumea which was a quick 40 minute boat ride. It was $179 each for the day but this included a tour of the reef, a glass bottom boat ride, a beautiful buffet lunch and entertainment. It was well worth the money spent.
Lifou was fantastic and great weather. We did one shore excursion to visit a grotto which was a really good and informative tour. The island was lovely and so were the locals. Most things were within a short walking distance.
Isle of Pines was lovely as well. It was a little cooler when we visited there. We didn't do any shore excursions at Isle of Pines but there were plenty of locals offering reasonable prices to do excursions.
The staff aboard Carnival Spirit couldn't do enough for you. From our room steward to our waiters in the Empire Dining Room the service was impeccable. They were very happy to talk to you about their families and what their life aboard a cruise ship entails. 5***** service always. Stu the Cruise Director was very engaging and friendly. We really enjoyed the several talks he did and they were very informative.
Fantastic - great sales daily and souvenirs were reasonably priced. Leave it until a few days before you leave to get your souvenirs because there are different sales on each day.
We had a very relaxing and wonderful cruise. At times when my husband and I walked around the ship you didn't run into a single person. It was never over crowded and we met some wonderful people on board. We intend on cruising again with Carnival and will definitely take our children with us next year. Bring on 2014!!!!