This was our first cruise and being first time cruisers we were a little bit apprehensive and did a lot of research- All I can say is some people are massive whingers!!! Carnival Spirit was great we had a ball from dawn to well after dusk everyday. While there were some things I thought could be done better they were fairly minor and if you cant enjoy yourself on this Cruise you would never be happy.
Embarkation was a little messy with the computers being down but considering the computers were down it all went quite smoothly. Our rooms were not ready when we boarded the ship so we we hit the pool side bar and enjoyed a cocktail- $10.50 which is more then reasonable ($5.00 voucher for the casino for every classic cocktail also made the cocktails much more appealing then the overpriced beer or wine) We hit the waterslides which were great fun (green thunder was a hit!). You couldn't get my 4 year old daughter off the yellow slide. Serenity deck was always crowded but it didnt worry me to much- The average age was 65+ and some of the swim suits were a little bit revealing for the size of some of these people. vomit bags needed....
We eventually got to our room 8115 and found the room to be not as clean as we would of hoped for (we are tough judges though as we run a motel) We found our room steward Marvin who was very friendly, however not the best housekeeper I have met and let him know the room wasn't clean enough. After a 2nd attempt the room got a passable tick by my wife but still expected a bit more. The Suite itself was ok but was starting to show its age- The beds were very comfortable and the size was perfectly fine for 2 adults and 2 small girls, the balcony was a hit and I wouldn't do another cruise without a balcony. The boat decor was interesting not my particular taste but it worked. The ships decks and pool areas, restaurants, theatres, casinos etc were all immaculately clean.
Our girls enjoyed the kids club they gave us a mobile phone to contact us in case the girls had enough or were sea sick etc.The girls never wanted to leave kids club and when we finished dinner or lunch it didn't take long for the "can we go to kids club now". The staff were always very friendly.
We had breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck (la playa) buffet and Dinner in the Empire dinning room in the my time dinning option. The buffet was pretty basic food but it was always served hot and fresh and lines were never really that long except for the Pizza but they were cooked to order so there was at least a 10min wait most days (1st world problems!!!). The Empire dinning was fine dining service with quality food but not fine dinning quality- It was good food and I never left hungry- The service was astounding we ate at 5:30 everyday and we pretty much had the same table at the back of the boat next to a massive window- sunset dinner as we left Sydney Harbour purely amazing- Our waiters Norwell and Muliana were freakishly good and they went above and beyond every night. To be totally honest these two made our cruise nothing was a problem and they did more then serve our food they did magic tricks, cut our daughters meals up, had suggestions on shore excursions, were generally very interested in our lives outside of the cruise and made sure we were greeted and fair welled like old friends every meal- It was actually very sad on the last meal saying good bye.
Entertainment was top notch I had 2 books for the cruise I got through 6 pages in the 1st book- There was something on all the time, Trivia, Pontoon tournaments which I won!! a 24 carot plastic ship on a stick and $500 certainly helped pay for the bar bill, deck games, something on all the time!! Stu the cruise director or his off-siders was generally always present..I cant recall their names but a very attractive Canadian women and a friendly Scottish lady kept all informed on what was coming up and assisted with disembarkation at ports and got the crowd ready for many of the hillarious comedy acts- To all the brave souls who sat in the front row at the Comedy shows thank you!! My head was often hurting from laughing so hard at your misfortune. The shows in the Pharoes lounge were incredible considering they were on a boat! The big band awesome, the Phillipino band funny as all hell but a fantastic band and knew how to play to the crowd. If you were still bored you could just people watch all day and you would be kept interested- What a variety of people, I must say Carnival has certainly cornered the Bogan market- Tatts and obese women in Bikinis were all to present. My eyes were hurt on several occasions.
The Pools and whirlpools were nearly always jammed full with unsupervised kids even though signs said children had to be supervised. I am not big for swimming pools so it didn't worry me but I think there were a few gripping about some kids behavior- If you saw the comedy act on the last night, the 3 crosses rule could be a good one for Carnival to bring in! (inside joke)
Port Excursions were a bit of a mixed bag and they were all over priced to a certain degree. Port Villa we organised our own shore trip with Atmosphere tours and was a bloody good day and would highly recommend using Atmosphere, Mystery bay- was beatutiful, Isle of Pines was my highlight make sure you get on a bus to the Natural aquarium we paid $25 for a local bus service...I think we may have paid overs for it but it was well worth it. Don't bother fishing in Noumea...Lovely boat, lovely people but the fishing is a joke. I have put bait fish back smaller then what we caught. The wife and Kids did a city tour of Noumea and went to the aquarium it was meh...overpriced but they still had a good time. A lot of "Ugly Australians" and first time travellers couldn't quite deal with the french speaking Noumeans and them not wanting to take Australian Money...Its not Australia people!!! Why was this so hard to understand?.....Noumea is a city its clearly got a few issues with unemployed youth but its still a pretty city with some amazing views from the hills.
We did a "Behind the Fun" tour very interesting and going into the bowels of the ship including the kitchens, engineers room, back stage and on the Bridge was very educational and gave you a real appreciation for what goes on to make the ship work. It also helps you realise you are getting a good bang for your buck with the ships fare barely if at all covering the cost of Fuel and Food. The Captain was a lovely jolly Italian fellow who made my girls feel very special.
Disembarkation at all ports was easy and done without fuss- I was surprised how quickly we got through customs in OZ. I literally finished Breakfast and was on the pier waiting for my lift home within 10mins.
All in all a wonderful family holiday- I think Carnival need to have a look at the smoking areas...Starboard on the Lido deck mid ship just spread the smoke everywhere- Not a nice wake up getting a face full of 2nd hand smoke on the way to breakfast. The smokers should be made to go to the back of the ship away from food, entertainment and major thoroughfares.