My husband and two kids (3 and 4) just got off the Spirit this morning - we LOVED LOVED LOVED it. All sad to get off :( I have cruised on the Oriana (83) and hubby and I on the Pacific Dawn out of Sydney (09). This was the kids' first cruise.
We had cabin 6166 Ocean Suite/Balcony (Port):
Lovely sized cabin with spa bath, twin sinks, dressing room, loads of storage. Queen+ bed and sofa converted to single bed and then a pull down bunk. Because our kids are little, we top and tailed them and made a cubby house from the top bunk with the spare duvet and sheets so it was dark for them to sleep and so we didn't have to sit in the dark at night. Cabin steward was very friendly and made towel pets for the kids daily. TV in the room - occasional good movie (The Help was on during our cruise).
Camp Carnival Kids' Club:
We used the 2-5 camp for 3 sea mornings 9- 11am+ The kids came back with craft, usually themed with whatever was going on that day. e.g More
Mexican night. They enjoyed it but preferred swimming pool and heated spa. They had dinner with Camp Carnival one night and then went back there until we finished watching the early show (9pm pickup). It is free until 10pm then you have to pay $ until 3am.
The 3 sing/dance shows were good:
Particularly Jazz Hot and The Big Easy. I took our 4yo daughter to the early show of Big Easy - she loved it but wondered why some of the dancers had little clothing on (lol).
We didn't do any of the ships' organised tours. We did our own thing:
In Vila, we got a taxi to Hideaway Island Resort and back. It was $60 return. The taxi will drop you at a little market where you get the tinny boat across. We paid $15 per adult to get onto the Island. Take reef shoes, the beach is full of coral. Best snorkelling of our trip here (but not as good as last trip snorkelling at Isle des Pins, Luganville Aore Island and Pentecost IMO). Daughter had hair braided at market just off ship for $10 - loved it.
Mystery Island - beautiful until we all descended on it ;) Seriously sweet place, kids held a huge lizard, they had a snake to hold, drank fresh coconut juice, wandered around the market etc. Very easy getting across by tender boat.
Mare - once again easy to get to island via tender boat. We paid the Carnival transfer fee to get to the beach proper. It was $20 per adult and $16. You can snorkel just off the tender wharf but worth it to go out to the other beach. They have loads of locals out there with food stalls etc. We ate banana fritters, drank and ate coconuts!
Noumea - my favourite port this cruise! We booked the toy train from the info centre where the ship transfer bus drops you. It was $35 per adult and $? for the kids. This was half the cost of the Carnival tour. Went for 1.5 hours and covered all the main sights, areas etc. Afterwards, we grabbed some baguette and Boursin cheese from the supermarket and ate it overlooking the water near the info centre. An absolute must - buy the pear and chocolate tart from Sel & Poivre, just off Place des Cocotiers - a beautiful park in the city centre. Just walking the streets here was interesting -there is plenty to look at in terms of history and the city art/graffiti etc.
Dining on the Carnival Spirit:
We ate at the Empire Dining Room for all of our dinners. We had 'Your Time Dining'. We rocked up at 5.20 and asked for the same table every night. We met some great people in out dinner queue! We had a fantastic wait team - they really made our holiday special. They paid so much attention to the kids, making them jumping paper frogs, napkin mice, rabbits etc. It was a sad goodbye to them for the kids this morning :(
Food was good but not as good as the Pacific Dawn. As a vegetarian, the choice wasn't as great. Saying that - having lived in the UK for 15 years, we have struggled to find good Indian food in Sydney - I ate the Indian vegetarian dinner every night and it was 5* and...if I wanted something other than Indian, they were happy to make it for me eg. delicious spaghetti with garlic, chili and parmesan, pasta with fresh tomato sauce etc. There was a tofu dish one night (yuk hate tofu) and there was Mozzarella sticks, a few animal stock free soups etc.
The buffet had a great selection for meat eaters and again, I just asked to have something made if I didn't like the vege dish of the day. To be fair, there is a 24hour pizza bar with 3 veggie options - all delicious. Dessert bar, salad bar, omelette bar, waffle and pancake bar, Panini/sarnie bar, burger bar etc so lots of choice. Not a fan of buffets personally but there is a lot of choice here. Not very well laid out though if you have kids... we much preferred the ease of ordering off menu.
Breakfast I often went up and took toast, yogurt and fruits back to our room - much easier to keep feral kids from running around buffet.
You can get food at any hour of the day, including pizza and ice cream bar (chocolate ice cream and choc, vanilla and strawberry frozen yoggie).
Only used it briefly so used the 75c per minute as you go. I think packages work out at 33 to 48 cents per minute.
Very swift and easy getting on and off. We had VIP check-in and because we had foster children, I emailed a letter of permission to travel to carnival and the next day, we had priority check-in - we were impressed with that :) But to be honest, others were getting on just as swiftly. Getting off, very easy and swift once again.
The ship was great but it was the staff that really made this such a wonderful holiday. Every time we passed a staff member, from cabin steward to rail cleaner - everyone said hello - it was quite impressive we thought and would definitely help us to travel with Carnival again. Less
We had cabin 6166 Ocean Suite/Balcony (Port): Lovely sized cabin with spa bath, twin sinks, dressing room, loads of storage. Queen+ bed and sofa converted to single bed and then a pull down bunk. Because our kids are little, we top and tailed them and made a cubby house from the top bunk with the spare duvet and sheets so it was dark for them to sleep and so we didn't have to sit in the dark at night. Cabin steward was very friendly and made towel pets for the kids daily. TV in the room - occasional good movie (The Help was on during our cruise).