Our family cruised on the Carnival Spirit Jan. of 2011. We had a wonderful time! For your convenience as you read this review, I have divided this up into basic subjects.
Overall Feeling: The Spirit is very "gaudy" if you know what I mean.
(Angels painted on ceilings and walls) The overall ship gives you a medieval gaudy type of feeling. At first, it can seems kind of strange, but will take some getting used to. Some members of my family hated it, while others enjoyed. It all depends on you personal preference.
The Food: Surprisingly, the best food dishes I had were in the La Playa Grille (Casual lido cafe) and the Empire Restaurant (Formal Dining) lunch dishes. I never really enjoyed my Empire Restaurant dinner dishes. I would highly recommend eating lunch in the Empire Restaurant a couple of your days on the Spirit instead of always eating lunch at the La Play Grille. They have some very yummy lunch dishes! Overall, all the food was great except for the dinner in the Empire Restaurant.
The Staterooms: Our ocean view staterooms were perfect for us! Our family of six had two ocean view rooms with 3 beds each. The rooms normally are meant to have two beds, but our stateroom steward put together a bed on the couch, which worked fine for us. The rooms are small, but what can you expect? I would much rather they use more room on the ship for fun public areas, verses a larger room. The bathrooms are amazing, actually! We had no problems with our room. Just nice clean rooms to lay your head at night for a next day's play :)
The Service: Carnival's crew has always gone above and beyond to make your cruise extra special. We loved our stateroom steward, who always greeted us in the hall ways and did a wonderful job keeping our room clean. Our server at dinner was a funny guy. We loved him!
On board Shopping: We loved the "Fashion Boulevard". It was a fun mini mall type place with surprisingly excellent prices on a lot of cool stuff including souvenirs. You definitely will need to check it out.
The Weather: Keep in mind we cruised during January - The weather was OK... just a little bit on the cool side. Not cold or hot, just sorta in the middle. I wouldn't have minded about an extra 5 degrees. On the cruise back to San Diego is was outrageously windy, so windy that they closed down the top deck because it could actually blow somebody off. It was sad for us :(
The Entertainment: My #1 tip to making your cruise the most exciting and fun is to read your "Carnival Fun Times", which you steward will give you a copy of every evening by leaving it on your bed. It has all the fun events going on throughout the ship. Read it! Highlight the activities you're interested in, and it will make your cruise so much funner. They have allot of fun activities: Examples: Hair chest contest, ice carving demo in the hot sun, trivia, bingo, comedian shows, and much more.
Embarkation, Debarkation: You always have to keep in mind. The Carnival Spirit has to disembark some 2,000 passengers from the previous cruise the same day they bring on another 2,000 new passengers from the next cruise! It's an extremely complex process and you have to be patient with them. We got on the ship in about 30 minutes, which is fabulous. Embarkation went very smooth. Debarkation is as smooth as you make it. If you educate yourself the night before on what you need to do, by watching the brief description on you Stateroom television, you will be fine. Just be patient, and do what they tell you and it will be smooth.
Spa Carnival: I was actually disappointed with the Carnival Spirit's spa. Recently, we had sailed on the Carnival Paradise, which is a step down from the Spirit, and it had a much nicer spa then the Spirit. The Spa seemed to be cheaply done. The cleanliness wasn't to great either. The indoor jacuzzi had an absolutely ridiculous amount of bubbles in it (The result of previous users left over shampoo, body oils, you get the picture) I am not exaggerating. There was so much that you couldn't even see the top layer of water. They rose above the water about 6 inches! Nobody wanted to use it.
Youth Experience: Carnival offers youth clubs on board for all ages up to 17. (Divided into age groups, of course) They have Camp Carnival which is 3-11. Circle C which is 12-14, and Club O2 for 15-17. The teen clubs were amazing. Very cool teen like hang out rooms and fun instructors. Our 6 year old member of our family attended Camp Carnival, which was different. She said the babysitters that ran it were mean and they didn't do anything. I think Carnival could definitely improve the 3-11 Camp Carnival. They need fun instructors that are patient to handle the kids.
Pools, Hot tubs, water slide: The Spirit's swimming experience was fantastic. We loved the water slide. It was heated so super warm it was hard to get off when you were at the bottom! It honestly almost felt like a hot tub. We were so happy, because nobody wants to play in cold water. The fantail pools (they had two) were designed very cute! Fun yellow and blue polka dots. Very fun. The hot tubs were nice and clean (except for the indoor jacuzzi I mentioned above), except they lacked the warm side. They were warm, but not hot. :( But it's alright.
Overall, the Carnival Spirit cruising experience was great. But there is always room for improvement. Here are some things they lacked to pull off well.
- The hot chocolate machine: We were so sad! All of the hot chocolate machines (6 of them) were "temporary unavailable" the ENTIRE CRUISE! I don't understand why that was so hard for them to fill up.
-The indoor jacuzzi I mentioned above: Read for the full description
-Spa Carnival overall experience: Poor cleanliness, cheaply done.
-Cleanliness of the stateroom hallways. The clean up crew took forever to clean up plates with leftover food on them from room service deliveries. They would sit there for almost a day before getting cleaned up.
-Prices of the Internet use. Come on, Carnival. The Super 8 Motel offers free Internet. The least you could do is cut your prices in half. It was like a dollar per minute :/
-The diner menu at the Empire Restaurant. We didn't really enjoy our dinner in the Empire Restaurant.
-What's with all the naked people?: The ships is covered with art consisting of half dressed women. Even in the staterooms. For a family, this can be a problem.
- Camp Carnival Youth Program: See what I wrote above.
Any questions? Email me at email@example.com.