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Carnival Spirit: Photos of Australia's Favourite Year-round Cruise Ship

Tim Faircloth

Last updated
Jan 8, 2020

Read time
2 min read

"That's the Carnival spirit," remarked my table companion as our multi-talented waiter, Sheward, delivered him a second dessert without any fuss or hesitation. This was only minutes after the outrageously flamboyant waiter/singer/comedian was belting out "Bohemian Rhapsody" with the backing of the entire Empire Dining Room.

These kinds of moments are why Carnival Spirit is consistently highly rated by Cruise Critic members: the happy, attentive and crowd-pleasing crew really do contribute in a huge way to the vessel's appeal.

The hotel department has its own not-so-secret weapon: Dessi, Carnival Spirit's energetic maitre d'. To be bestowed the honour of "Fleetwide Team Leader of the Year", chosen from more than 20,000 Carnival Cruise Line employees, is a triumphant achievement and well-deserved. On every voyage Dessi has an uncanny way of making her guests genuinely feel like the most special passengers ever to sit at her tables.

This month marks the five-year anniversary of Carnival Spirit sailing in our waters. Homeported in Sydney since October 2012, the former American ship is now totally geared up for Aussies in every way. Being permanently based here gives it a distinct advantage over other 'part-timer' cruise ships that call Asia or the US home for six months of the year; it means that Carnival Spirit's crew know Australians very well. They know what makes us tick, our likes and dislikes, which often differs to people from other cultures.

Yes, the ship has the iconic Green Thunder waterslide, the Red Frog Pub, the adults-only Serenity. But ask any holidaymaker returning from their cruise what they loved and it probably centres around three essential elements: service, food and entertainment.

From the cruise directors to the entertainers, the crew's friendly vibe also rubs off onto passengers, who soon drop their guard, find their inner exuberance and join in the fun. The Spirit is definitely a social ship. It's large enough to allow both kids and adults room to co-exist in harmony and small enough to retain that personal ambience that Australians appreciate.

The interior decor might not be to everyone's taste, nor does it reflect our laidback nature, but after a few days you tend to see past it as the ship's personality shines through.

As a travel agent, I can tell you Carnival Spirit is an easy sell. We can be confident that our clients will enjoy the onboard experience and receive value for money. But it's not for everyone. "It's for fun-loving, free-spirited families and couples," proclaims Carnival Cruise Line's management team -- and they're right.

To celebrate five years of the Aussie spirit, here are a few never-seen-before images of Australia's favourite year-round cruise ship (according to ratings in Cruise Critic member reviews).

Sunset sail away from the top of the Green Thunder waterslide. It's worth the trip up the stairs to get this very 'Sydney' image, taken with a fish-eye lens. I got lucky with the Manly Ferry slicing through Spirit's sunlit wake.

--Photo by Tim Faircloth

Another fish-eye view from the top of Green Thunder, but made more extreme by the downward tilt of the camera. This shot shows how extreme the drop from the top is, while providing a different perspective on the button-shaped side tables and the riot of colours featured on Carnival Spirit.

--Photo by Tim Faircloth

The engaging and talented Tim in the Shanghai Piano Bar. This is not an easy venue to capture in low, hazy red light. I did not use a flash, and a fish-eye lens was needed to incorporate the entire circular bar. But the hardest part was securing the prime position 'piano side' in this popular venue!

--Photo by Tim Faircloth

Ten minutes until departure. This image is taken from the Cahill Expressway in Sydney. A five-second exposure was used to illuminate the ship while showing the movement of other vessels. The expressway vibrates with every passing car, so I had to take about 200 shots to get one that wasn't blurry!

--Photo by Tim Faircloth

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