PORTS VISITED: Noumea, New Caledonia, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines
CABIN NUMBER: 5106 deck 5 Upper standard interior stateroom located at bow end of ship
We are sort of becoming veteran cruisers, as this was our 3rd cruise in 2 years, having previously travelled with Royal Carribean on Rhapsody of the Seas twice to the South Pacific and this was our first taste of the Carnival Spirit and a change of ship is like a new holiday, regardless of having been to the South Pacific twice before.
First of all the ship is huge, at times it felt like there was not 2400 passengers on it as there were lots of quiet places to sit during the day and just chill.
On day one, December 13th 2013 we along with all other passengers had problems with the embarkation process and were stranded inside the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney as Carnivals computers went down and no one could board, this took over 2 hours to fix and Carnival brought out iced water, cups and fresh cookies while everyone waited, we finally got on board and were eating lunch in the Lido Buffet, La Playa Grille at 2.45 pm, the ship left port on time at 6.30 pm and during the afternoon the Captain and cruise director profusely apologised to all on the ships p.a system about the boarding delays.
When we arrived at Cabin 5106 we were pleasantly surprised, the cabin was much larger than we expected for a standard interior stateroom, in fact it was much larger than Rhapsody of the Seas standard cabins, a standard interior stateroom on Rhapsody of the Seas is only 144 square feet, Carnival Spirits cabin would have been classed as a superior large interior stateroom on Rhapsody of the Seas with quite a proportionately higher price tag to what we paid, on Carnival this cruise cost us only $700 AUD a head for the two of us.
At 17 square metres or 185 square feet, it was unusually spacious for a standard interior cabin, the shower was the biggest we had so far seen on a cruise ship, my partly disabled wife could easily shower in it, almost as large as the one at home, storage cupboards and facilities were excellent in this cabin,far better than the Rhapsody of the Seas equivelant.
We really liked the space in this cabin and it's decore, my wife being part time in a wheelchair comfortably managed in Carnival Spirits cabin, there were lots of other partly disabled people in standard staterooms as well and we spoke to a few of them, and they felt the same as us about the cabins.
Our cabin steward, I-made was excellent, cabin cleanliness, upkeep and house keeping was excellent.
Carnival Spirit staff were excellent, they care greatly about their disabled guests and go the extra mile for them, ships staff were a happy, pleasant and friendly bunch, they all seemed happy to be on Carnival Spirit, they like talking to the guests, very friendly and helpful, we have no complaints at all about them.
NOW FOR ONE WARNING: DO NOT TAKE ON BOARD YOUR OWN EXTENSION LEADS OR POWER BOARDS AS THEY WILL BE CONFISCATED FOR THE CRUISE AND YOUR BAGGAGE HELD UP AT SECURITY AS THEY X-RAY SCREEN EVERYTHING, we had to take my wife's CPAP machine with us and there is only one Australian power point located at the dressing table in the stateroom so I took my own extension lead and power board and my suitcase was held up for a few hours and I got a written message in my cabin's mail box ( yes all cabin's have a pigeon hole outside each door where messages are delivered ) to go to security, unlock my bag and show them the contents and they took the power board and lead which I had to claim back on the last day of the cruise, they gave me paper work, Carnival supplied there own power board to us for us to use during the cruise. The reason this is done is for fire safety, Carnival can't screen as to the safety and quality of what people bring on board in electrical equipment, a fire at sea is the greatest threat to the lives of the guests and Carnival take ship safety very seriously, hence electric kettles, irons, hair straighteners and hair dryers are banned to be bought aboard and they will be and detected and confiscated and returned to you before you disembark on the last day, you go claim them back with the paper work they give you.
There are no tea making /coffee making or electric kettles supplied by Carnival in a standard interior cabin and no fridge either, you do get a hair dryer located in the vanity units drawer.
We had the two single beds joined together to make a king bed, it was a little firm for us but okay to sleep on, Cabin air conditioning needs to be set to maximum cold as when you go into the tropics it gets less efficient and the cabin gets a little warm for us southerners from Victoria.
Now for the food.
We dined every evening at fine dining in the Empire Room restaurant at the rear of the ship on decks 2 and 3, ala carte meals with bigger servings on some food than we expected, the food was tasty and they catered for all tastes and requirements such as vegans, if anything to complain, a lot of the food was just lukewarm but when there are up to 1200 guests seated in the Empire Room, food service is strained to impossible limits but the food came fast and quick, it was better than our previous Royal Carribean experiences.
At lunch time we ate in The La Playa Grill located on deck 9, the Lido deck which is there self serve buffet style restaurant, the menu changed each day, food was lukewarm but delicious consisting of roasts, stir fries, curries, sausages, hamburgers, vegetables, cold meats, salads of all sorts, chips, potatoes, rice etc. as well as a choice of 4 or 5 desserts each day at various scattered self serve stations with staff assisting as well as free drinkable coffee, iced water and free lemon squash self serve at the dispensing machines.
They have a 24 hour pizzeria in the La Playa Grill a the back which serves about 4 types of pizzas, thin based, pretty ordinary but you can mix up the toppings to order. They also had a deli bar that made wraps and pita bread to order, the roast turkey wrap is delicious.
At breakfast we ate at the La Playa grill, heaps of breakfast foods, all cereals and yoghurts, fresh fruit, pastries, ham, bacon, eggs poached and scrambled, eggs benedict, baked beans, hash browns, omelettes made to order at the omelette station, we suggest to try the made to order omelettes with the works in fillings, they have everything, makes for a very yummy and satisfying omelette.
At breakfast you get free unlimited orange juice which tastes good from self serve machines as well as coffee and all teas you can imagine.
As for other drinks, alcohol and cock tails are expensive, about $8.25 for a can of Victoria Bitter beer and about $10 plus for a cock tail, wine expensive from about $10 to $23 a glass.
Soft drink is cheap, you can buy a can of coke for $2.25 complete with a a glass full of ice.
Thank god there are no tips or gratuities to pay on Carnival Spirit, Carnival have complied with the Australian market and removed these nuisance items which can add 15% on the cost of everything as in Australia, we don't tip but pay people decent wages, tips were never asked for or hinted at on our cruise and unlike Royal Carribean we did not have drink waiters in our faces every 5 minutes trying to sell you a drink as they are motivated by the tips they get, we could ice water no problem from the waiters on Carnival Spirit whereas on other ships the waiters did not deliver as there was no tips to do so as water is free.
I like the tip free/gratuity free setup on Carnival Spirit, other ship operators need to take heed here and remove the tips and gratuities for the Australian market as Australians don't like to pay them.
Laundry is easy, you can do it yourself for $3.25 AUD a load, coin operated laundromats ( bring coins for the machine ) or Carnival offers a $15 laundry bag, you pack the paper bag to its bursting with dirty laundry, fill out the form and your friendly stateroom steward will take it before 10 am each morning and get your clothes washed and folded and returned to you within a day, we used that service, so easy, we paid for washing twice on a 8 day cruise, total of $30 AUD for washing.
I'm not going to comment on the ports we visited as I have blogged about them in the past, with all cruise lines that visit them they are all pretty standard, all land tours cost the same as they all use the same operators on the south pacific islands.
On board night shows in the Pharoahs Theatre were fantastic, best we have ever seen, very high quality, Casino is very nice but be prepared to loose money here but we encountered a a lady that won $4500 on the Black Jack tables, God knows what her bets were to do that, they do have $3 minimum bets during the day at these tables, plenty of 1 cent poker machines to find with minimum bets at 25 cents upwards, all Australian money.
In summary we loved Carnival Spirit, it was a great cruise, we would go on her again in the future.
We highly recommend this ship for families and people of all ages, we can't understand why some have criticised and panned the ship, some people are just too hard to please or got some kind of problem in our opinion, go on Carnival Spirit, a great ship to have a great time in.