As an avid cruiser since age 4, I’ve seen plenty of ships of all sizes and star ratings.
When my 8 year old daughter (a veteran of 5 cruises herself) insisted that our next cruise just had to be on Carnival Spirit, (if only for those water slides), I was not so sure at first.
I then began reading the mixed reviews. Although I have been caught out on these reviews before, so didn’t really take too much notice.
After all, I’ve learned that a cruise is what you make of it. If you want to go around looking for faults, you’ll find them, no matter what ship you’re on.
So we went ahead and booked an 8 night cruise on Carnival Spirit, with the mind set of “really, how bad could it be anyway?” let just go and have some fun.
Well have fun, we did. Loads of it in fact.
I can’t remember laughing so much and just letting myself go in a long time.
Here is our Carnival Spirit Experience.
We had requested and been allocated an early boarding time of 12.30pm. We must have been on the ship within 15 minutes from bag drop off, through check in, Immigration and the obligatory boarding pic.
Not only the speed was a pleasant surprise, but the calm, friendly and smilingly girl who check us in was great way to start.
Straight on the ship and straight to our cabins, which were cleaned and ready for us upon boarding. Perfect.
We were in a standard balcony on deck 5 (5-258). My friend and his daughter were next door in 5-256.
These cabins are aft on the Port side. If looking for peace and quiet, I can certainly recommend picking a cabin in this area. Being far aft, means that there is no real ‘through traffic’ so not once were any of woken at night by other passengers walking passed.
Also, there are no interior cabins on opposite side of the corridor on the port side in this aft section. Which must also help keep foot traffic to a minimum.
The cabin itself was very clean, comfortable and easy to live in. We chose to have the beds in two singles and there was still enough room to walk around.
I particularly enjoy leaving my balcony door open at night to let the see breeze in and be hushed off to sleep by the sound of the ocean. Tip: take a bungy cord or something to hold the door open if you too enjoy this type of ‘sleep therapy’.
The beds were comfortable, the bathroom was fine. Standard mini bar, safe and TV with the usual mix of channels and movies. For the kids there was always a free family movie running (for some down time) or you pay $10 to view a movie ‘on demand’. This proved handy a few times.
The storage was actually more than enough for an 8 night (warm weather) cruise. We couldn’t fill all the wardrobe space if we tried.
They provide large bottles of drinking water for $4.50. And of course every kids favourite towel animals nightly.
Overall, the cabin was a great ‘home away from home’
Ship décor and layout:
Lets just say the décor is not everyone’s taste. Personally I’m one of those. I think the designer has attempted to recreate the ‘Palace of Versailles @ sea’
Ornate, to say the least. Dark, rich colours, gaudy artwork and what seemed to be a different theme to every single room you walked into.
The first day or so I found it to be a bit overwhelming and there is a sense of being somewhat disconnected to the sea. Which is a shame.
However, as the cruise progressed, I guess I must have simply got used to it and didn’t really bother me after a while.
When I walked back into my ‘contemporary’ home in Sydney, It actually felt bland and thought that my wife had changed the place while I was away !
The ships layout seemed to work fine.
Overall, not the best food I’ve had on a ship, but much better than the worst. I guess you could put it on par with Royal Caribbean. Not as good as Princess or Holland America, but a step up from P&O. It just comes down to a price point.
We chose to eat in the Empire Dining Room at night with the ‘anytime dining’ option. We were always provided a table without any fuss and enjoyed all our meals in here.
Lunch was mainly at the buffet. This does get quite crowded at peak times. After a day or so, you can work out the best times to grab feed without the crowds. Getting a table was actually ok, even in busier periods. Maybe there are simply more tables here than other ships I’ve been on.
There is a great variety of food on offer. From the full hot lunch of Curry’s etc, a great salad bar, fantastic Deli for freshly toasted sandwiches, plus an abundance of cakes for desert.
There is also really great pizza bar (open 24 hours) where they make the pizza’s fresh from a ball of dough to a piping hot, crisp and delicious pizza in about 8 minutes. Probably one of the best pizza’s I ever had on land or at sea.
Mostly great and a lot of fun.
We missed seeing any of the production shows. I’ve just seen too many over the years and could commit to sitting through another,
The other entertainers however were really good. We saw a few of the comedians in the Punchliner Comedy Club that were quite funny. Shane St James (hypnotist) was hysterical.
Grant, the Guitarist / singer that played around the ship was fantastic. We really loved the Shanghai Piano Bar, where Natalie would entertain the kids in the 8.15 – 9.15pm family hour sing a long. Great fun.
My Daughter and her friend were not overly taken with the kids club on Spirit. On our last cruise (HAL Oosterdam) I couldn’t keep her out of kids club. I think this just comes down to amount of kids on board. On the Oosterdam there were only 12 kids on board, so there was a lot more individual attention given. With around 700 kids on board Carnival Spirit, the kids club seemed rather chaotic and staff seemed overwhelmed.
Having said that, the fact that they didn’t really like Camp Carnival that much wasn’t too much of an issue. Simply due to the amazing amount of other activities for our kids to do.
The water slide were of course a big hit. The pools also got a good work out. The mini golf, video arcade, plus all the scheduled activities for kids day and night that aren’t part of kids club, kept our girls adequately entertained and left them completely ‘stuffed’ by 10pm every night. They simply had a ball.
I found the shops actually really good. With great deals if you leave your shopping to last two sea days.
The Gym was also great. Plenty of machines to go around. There is also the jogging track on deck 10 which I personally enjoyed all to myself most mornings.
If you’re looking for peace an quiet, step out onto the Promenade Deck. There is never anyone out there ! I’m sure no one knows the shop even has a Promenade deck.
Serenity area was also really good. Pretty busy during the day, but much quieter at night and top spot for a drink in warm tropical sea air with relaxing lounge music.
After reading the past reviews there were a lot of mixed feelings about this topic. However, overall I found the crowd on our cruise to be very polite, pleasant and easy to travel with.
Mainly everyday families all just looking for some fun and relaxation.
Yes there are a lot of kids, but this didn’t seem to be much of problem. The ship seemed to ‘absorb’ them all well.
Really great crowd of cruisers.
In summing up, we had a fantastic cruise and would most definitely cruise on Carnival Spirit again. In fact I am suffering withdrawals really, really bad !!
Great ship, great cruise. Don’t hesitate to book.