As a first time cruise couple we didn't really know what we were in for. Yes, we had heard some stories from friends about how fantastic Vanuatu and New Caledonia is, we had also heard how fantastic the food on board was, we had also heard that cruise's are for retired couples who complain a lot about having to pay extra for drinks etc. So, as a couple aged in our mid-twenties we really didn't know what we were in for.
Let me start by saying our cruise was fantastic. A truly memorable experience that we will both look back on for a long time and think "that was a fantastic holiday."
Now to my review. The Carnival Spirit was fantastic. We visited Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Vila, Santo and Wala and they were all memorable for different reasons. If you like relaxing on bright white sand, falling asleep on bright white sand, reading a book on bright white sand, swimming, snorkeling and just plain old relaxing then this is for you. You will return completely relaxed and rejuvenated.
We had 11 nights on the cruise ship which was sensational. The entertainment each night was very good (comedians, cabaret, magician, hypnotist etc) plus there was live music in a variety of different places, a day spa which was reasonably priced and adults only pool/deck.
The food had something for everyone. 24 hour pizza, a burger joint, a buffet (which had some questionable people around it), a silver service dining room (offering much the same as the buffet, but a more refined dining experience) or the Noveua Restaurant which was FANTASTIC. A four course meal for $35 a head including any cut of beef you can imagine, cooked to your liking. I would happily have paid $100 for this. So, go a few times.
Yes, the ship rips you off with shore excursions which you can easily book and work out when you're on the mainland but overall it's fantastic. There is something for everyone and everyone likes different things. So, if you like to eat - go to the buffet. If you like to relax by the pool - go to the adults only pool/deck. If you like to smoke - go to the smokers deck. If you want to offload your kids to be babysat all day - there are programs for kids all the way up to 17 years of age. If you can't find something to do on this ship then you're not trying hard enough.
Cocktails start around $10 and beers about $8 - do yourself a favour and drink cocktails the whole time because you get more alcohol in them and they taste delicious. Also, who doesn't want a photo put on Facebook of them drinking out of a large glass with an umbrella in it!?
Book a room on the lower deck. You will spend next to no time in your room so don't invest heavily in it. All you need is a bed, shower and a TV to show you what the weather is doing outside. The higher up the ship you go the more you pay. The higher up the ship you go the more it rocks and sways. Try to get a room on a lower deck in the middle of the boat. The front and back of the boat move a fair bit when the ship goes up and down swell. The middle of the boat is like the neutral point - yes, you will have some movement but it will be far less than any other point on the ship.
Sensational. You won't be disappointed. The 'worker ants' do everything possible to make sure you're happy. Can't be faulted.
Brilliant. You can't choose your family or the people with you on a cruise ship. You will have people on there that you don't want to have anything to do with (that's a given), but you don't have to speak to them. You can just laugh from afar! Having said that there are also some really nice people on the ship who you will swap details with on the final night and then never contact once you get back to reality.
Carnival Spirit's motto is "Fun for all. All for fun" and it is exactly that - a lot of fun. We will be doing it again very soon.