Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by Meamat
- Sail Date: November 2016
- Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation and debarkation - excellent and so smooth. It was quite a difference, as we're used to international airline travel which is much busier and more involved. I loved that we were lounging by the pool before our boarding group had even closed and that we were off the ship and driving home within half an hour of being called.
The ship itself was perfect for us. The size meant we could find our way around easily after a short time but still had lots of options for entertainment, food, etc. Our family enjoyed a lot of the Carnival 'exclusives' like the Alchemy bar, the waterslides, the Mexican cantina and Guy's burgers. The gym was surprisingly good and all the equipment had a view over the ocean.
We found the dining options offered a great variety, and only the buffet area felt crowded or especially busy. Even there, they had done a good job of dividing up the food service areas and eating areas so you never felt you were in a huge dining hall. The food was ok there but I didn't have anything spectacular from the buffet. My son LOVED the burgers, I'm sure he ate lunch there every day. They had a nice veggie burger, too. The Blue Iguana Cantina was my favourite for a quick lunch or breakfast. Tacos were handed over so you could top them yourselves from the salsa bar. Burritos were made to your order including a range of salsas and sauces and wrapped, so I found they were a perfect meal to take back to my balcony for a quiet lunch while I read a book. The main dining room was great, we ate there most nights for dinner and our waitstaff were just excellent and so friendly. I did find there was quite a range in quality at times, I never had a bad meal but they ranged from good to outstanding. There was an everyday menu with staples like spice rubbed steak, salmon fillet, chicken schnitzel, baked potato, veggies etc as well as a daily menu with interesting alternatives. This worked out well for us, we usually found something that sounded amazing on the daily menu but everyone ordered at least once from the every day menu, too. Breakfast in the MDR was good, too, though not always consistently cooked. Sea day brunch was fantastic. We weren't sure whether to visit Nouveau, but we did and were so happy we'd done it. The food and service were outstanding.
We found the entertainment and activities a little hit and miss. Some of the main shows were excellent - there were two magicians on board and they were both great. One was more talking/comedy/slight of hand and the other was very Vegas with dancers and pyrotechnics plus acrobatics thrown in. Some of the live shows were pretty good, but the music was canned, not all cast members could sing (understandably when they need to sing/dance/perform a lot of different shows during the week and the emphasis seemed to be on the dancing), and depending on the show and your seats it could get really loud. The small solo acts that played at various bars and lounges throughout the evenings were excellent. On our cruise we had Clint and Lexi who were both very talented guitarists and vocalists as well as Texas Maple who were a piano/vocal duo. All were great in different ways and we often just floated from one lounge to another to hear the performers. The other entertainment (trivia and bingo) weren't really my thing, and they also had a few extra events scattered throughout the cruise like hole in one competitions, free throw competitions, etc. There were also two free fitness classes daily, nothing too strenuous but good, and extra fitness programs and boot camps you could sign up for at an extra cost.
The kids clubs were great for both of our children. I was a little concerned at first for my 10 year old, she'd looked forward to it so much and when we registered on the first day she looked around the area and said 'mum, I don't really think this is my kids club, it looks like it's for little kids.' On looking at the schedule, we realised their group moved around the ship quite a bit and had activities in the Circle C (12-14 year old) areas when that group were elsewhere, had mini golf activities, activities in the night club, etc. She loved it and made some great friends. My son loved Circle C, too. They went out together to some of the evening shows and PG comedians, played video games, had dance parties in the night club, and he had a great time. Both kids were given a t-shirt on the last day to decorate and then have their kids club friends sign on the last night.
We visited Noumea, Mare, and Isle of Pines and enjoyed each in different ways. Beautiful people and a beautiful country, I would definitely like to go back. As we pulled up to Yejele beach, my daughter said 'mum... it's paradise!' and she really was right! By the end of that day both kids had decided they'd like to move there.
One of the highlights was really the level of service and attention from the crew. We never walked past our cabin attendants in the hallways without them greeting us by name and asking about our day. Our waitstaff in the dining room were just beautiful and had little running jokes with the kids and made sure we were well taken care of. My daughter misses them terribly already! The Nouveau staff were excellent on all levels. We got to know the servers at our favourite specialty places and bars, and the music acts would recognise us and have a chat (one invited me up on stage to sing a couple songs on our last day!). Overall, we just felt very cared for and like we really got to know the crew we saw regularly.
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