I am a Top Contributor on Trip Advisor with over 200 reviews in 49 cities around the world. My wife has been trying to get me to go own a cruise for the last 10 years and I have vehemently refused, until now. This morning we arrived back from our first cruise on board the Carnival Spirit after a short 8 day cruise of the Pacific Islands in New Caledonia.
I can only say that all of my misapprehensions and fears have been blown away. Yes, there were lots of people, including over 1000 children on board ( it's school holidays and we had our 12 year old with us too), which was one of my biggest reasons for not wanting to do this. However this ship is so large with so many places to get away from the masses, I must say that I have just had one of the best short breaks of my life.
The cleanliness, the food ( more on that later), the service, the smiles, the entertainment, the crew, the size of the room...in fact everything..exceeded my wildest expectations.
As a first time cruiser one thing that initially blew me away was the sheer size of this ship. Over 300 metres long and 11 stories high, there would be very few seas that would make sailing on board unpleasant. Our first night at sea was, according to some crew members, very rough with over 4 metre swells, and whilst the boat did move around it was far from uncomfortable as far as we were concerned. Another first impression was the 'gaudiness' of the interior, a bit like Las Vegas on the sea, but it all adds to the overall experience.
Highlights of the trip were the food. The main Empire Restaurant served lovely meals each breakfast and dinner and was used by most passengers. We tried 'Nouveau' the fine dining restaurant once, and then went back 2 more times. For the extra $40 per head, in our opinion, it was well worth it. The food there is as good as it gets anywhere. Fine dining at its best. I highly recommend it if your budget allows.
My wife spent many days at the spa and loved the experience and even I had a massage which was divine. Expect to be sold some product if you go there which is not cheap!
The buffet served on deck 9 was also good for breakfast or lunch with food to suit every palate. You can get a great pizza from there 24 hours per day! There are many other eateries dotted around the ship, all good, so going hungry is not an option! There are lots of bars everywhere too. We loved the late night 'Shanghai' piano bar on deck 3!
Serenity, the 'no kids allowed' bar at the stern of the ship is a great spot to get away, although on a full cruise it can be a challenge to get a free sun lounger.
The entertainment was first class and lots of it. On board fun included trivia ( many each day), bingo, golf and table tennis competitions, even towel folding demonstrations and lots, lots more! The highly shows included a hypnotist, magicians, comedians, jazz, big band etc etc!.
All in all, this has been a fantastic introduction to cruising. I highly recommend this ship as I am really struggling to fault any part of the experience we have just had. Our 12 year old reckons it was the best holiday he has ever had...and we hardly ever saw him, except for meals!
I have already been on line to see what we can do with Carnival on the next school holidays later this year. Need I say more!