Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by carofil: A great winter holiday
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A great winter holiday
We had a wonderful break away in winter.
When Carnival Spirit first sailed into Australia, I couldn't wait to see what local people thought of her as a cruise ship in our waters. The reviews started to finally appear on CruiseCritic...and they didn't seem to be shaping up too well!! I remember thinking it would be nice to have a permanently-based ship here that led the way, but instead it looked as though it wasn't going to win too many friends if Carnival didn't lift their game!
Well, it seems things had changed somewhat in recent times. I started doing a bit more research late last year and by taking an average member rating over the last 25 cruises, The Spirit came out on top of all the local cruise ships in the same class doing the same types of cruises!! With this in mind I thought things were starting to look up a bit!!
In April 2013 my wife and I were due to sail from Sydney to Hawaii, but at one point it appeared that I may not be able to go. It was More then that I offered my 29 year-old son, Michael, the opportunity of taking the cruise in my place. It didn't take a lot of persuading for him to get used to that idea, so he was ready to be my substitute!! Fortunately for me...but unfortunately for Mike...my original plans were reinstated in time for me to go...so he missed out!!! With that in mind, as a sweetener, we promised him another cruise down the track!
That little preamble now brings us up to date with the 10-night cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia aboard the Carnival Spirit that Mike and I disembarked from on the 25th June.
Having cruised quite a lot, especially over the last 5 years and having submitted reviews for several of these cruises, I may not have put in a review on this particular cruise were it not for the review submitted by Gail, "Carnival - v - P&O"!
As I said before, I carried out a fair bit of research before booking this cruise, as I wanted the experience to be positive for Mike...and myself!! This was in fact to be the cruise that was the one to make up for him missing the Hawaii cruise. Ok, not quite up to Hawaii standards, destinations-wise or length-wise, but 10 nights would be good for him to see if this type of holiday suited him!!
At this point, I think it is very important for us all to remember that our perception of a cruise is always going to be very subjective. In other words, what we like, may not necessarily be what someone else will like and vice versa. This has always been the same for food, entertainment, activities, a good book, music, etc., etc., etc......you could keep going on!!
I think Gail felt that because she and her husband didn't like the Spirit experience, that most other people would be in the same position, especially if they had cruised other cruise lines...and even more so if they had cruised P&O!! Well, Mike hadn't cruised before, but I had, and this was my eighth in 5 years on 4 different lines including P&O!
I have to say, I have never experienced a bad cruise, even ones that date well back past the last 5 years to when cruising was really transportation from point A to point B!! Now, I know there are some horror stories out there that would curl your hair, and how glad I am that I haven't been on one of those cruises! The cruises I'm talking about do not involve a lack of toasters, a decor not to my taste or no 'friend' eggs...but matters to be really concerned about!! Whilst mentioning the eggs, I think Gail meant 'fried' eggs! So let me tell you, don't be worried, at breakfast there are plenty of eggs!! Poached eggs, boiled eggs, eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, fried eggs and beautiful design your own omelettes cooked while you wait! As for the fried eggs, they are prepared to your preference by the person making the omelettes, as on a lot of other cruise ships!!!
As I have previously mentioned, before booking our cruise, I had carried out a lot of research to ensure this cruise would be suited to both Mike and myself. The one thing I didn't want Mike to say after the experience was, "well, that's enough cruising for me thanks, Dad"!!! Now, my research always involves the following: Reading a lot about the ship and the cruise line if I haven't sailed with them before, looking at exterior photo's and lots of interior photo's, reading and sifting through a lot of reviews and talking to people who have sailed on the ship previously if you find them. With this research behind me we boarded the ship being fully aware of what would greet us! There were no surprises with the gaudy decor, which to me it is!! I must admit, whilst first researching, I did have a few misgivings about whether this was the ship for us, but after looking at the whole package and reading lots of reviews I decided not to make the decor a deal-breaker...and I'm so glad I didn't!!!
Just a mention of the separate buffet stations scattered around the deck 9 dining area. What this achieves is a speed-up in the line movement due to the fact that you don't have 100 people lined up in front of you all waiting for basically the same things. You are through the line so much faster and if the buffet that you are on doesn't have what you are looking for, you go to the one that does. The lines are always relatively short. A good tip, try and stay away from the buffet during peak times and you will breeze through without delay! Yes, trays are a thing of the past with so many of the cruise lines now. The solution: one plate at a time and that will help your food to remain hotter!! My experience with the long, slow line of hungry cruisers lined up at the P&O buffet showed no difference in food temperature! The other downside of the long line is, if you have forgotten something...oh, darn...I'm not going to get back into that 1960's style cafeteria line again!!! Forget it!!!
Another point about the Spirit lunch time buffet menu. Believe me it changed! The reason some of the items remained on the menu was that they are favourites! Carnival aren't stupid, if people aren't eating a particular food item, it won't be put out just to be thrown out and go to waste. They have to make a profit out of the whole exercise!!
If you are like Gail and prefer to have the P&O (Australia) experience (old hand me down ships!), then you would be better to stick with what you like, because all the modern large ships use multiple small serving stations or island buffets and most times no trays. It's just a matter of getting used to a little bit of change! It is the way of the future...they call it progress!!! Incidently, our cruise on the P&O Pacific Pearl was an excellent cruise. Whilst not a long cruise (4 nights) it was very enjoyable. As I have said before, we haven't had a bad cruise...it's always been what we chose to make it!
Now, I'm not sure what circles that Gail and her husband moved in, but it seemed that EVERYONE was pretty much saying the same thing, and if they weren't, they must have been first time cruisers...because they had nothing else to compare it to!! What they were saying was, "the food and decor were terrible"!!! I found that strange, because that wasn't what I was hearing! In fact, I didn't hear one person mention anything about the decor, even though it wasn't to my taste!! Remember how I said things like decor are subjective? I guess we all just got used to it and didn't want it to spoil our cruise experience! How boring would our world be if we all had the same likes and dislikes? As for the food, we all have different tastes, what you like may not be to my liking and vice versa. No doubt that is why there is such a variety of food presented. Every one of the six people at our Empire Dining Room table absolutely enjoyed the dinner there every night they attended (which was most nights)...and some of the desserts were to die for!! Incidently, when you dine at a first class restaurant, you don't walk in and expect to be served, finished and out of there in under an hour. It is a fine dining experience, and these things should be savoured and enjoyed! If it all takes too long for you, you are better off going to a fast food joint (like the pizza servery!) where you can have YOUR personal experience!!
As for the television programming (or lack thereof!), we don't go on a cruise to sit, or lie down, and watch TV all day...we can do that at home for much less cost!! What Mike and I noticed was that there were more than four movies over our 10 Night cruise, which were screened multiple times during the day so that everyone had the opportunity of viewing it should they choose to do so!! We can't say exactly how many there were, but we did see that it was quite a bit more than four. As well, there were two movie channels, one catering to Kids and one to Adults.
My responses to Gail's comments have taken quite a bit of time and space. No doubt I may have missed some points along the way, but for Mike and myself, this cruise experience was like it has always been for me....absolutely enjoyable! If you have a question in your mind about whether Carnival would be a suitable cruise line for you, do your research, go in with an open mind and don't let anything or anybody put you off enjoying your experience!! Concentrate on the positives, happy cruising and Fun, Fun, Fun!!!
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