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We chose this cruise as a short break to a place we'd always wanted to go... Tasmania. The fact that there was one day in Port Arthur followed by two in Hobart (the ship overnighted there) offered us more time in ports we wanted to go to than other Tassie cruises we considered. We'd cruised on Carnival Spirit 3 times in the past: to Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands before the ship made Australia it's home port, and then to the S Pacific soon after it moved to Australia. We loved all those cruises and had no hesitation in booking this time. This was our 18th cruise. We've cruised with P&O in the early 2000's, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean. I love any cruise and all have some more positive features and some more negative. I don't nitpick as I feel we're fortunate to actually be able to cruise. Someone who hasn't cruised before, or who has only cruised on Carnival out of Australia, is probably going to rate a cruise differently than someone who has cruised more and on various cruiselines. I am writing this review from the point of comparing to the 3 other Spirit cruises we've done, and comparing to other cruiselines' offerings. The staff and service on Carnival Spirit still impressed me. There's a happy friendly vibe, especially in the main dining room. Our cruise director Gary was also a standout - he was temporarily replacing Eli, the regular cruise director and was pretty new at the job, but he was brilliant. On sea days I try to go to the gym so I was able to go twice on this cruise. I don't use the equipment, but do my own pilates mat routine. The gym is bright and at the front of the ship, and seems to have plenty of equipment though my husband complained to me that none of the bikes were working on either day. What I found a pest was that there was no real floor space for mat work. You have to find a little corner or thoroughfare and plonk your mat down there, hoping you won't be in anyone's way. I'm used to finding in ship gyms an entire alcove or room that's devoted to fitness classes or seminars and being able to workout there. I know I'm in the minority as most people seem to head to the gym to use the bikes or treadmills but some dedicated floor space would be wonderful. I was underwhelmed by the entertainment. Some nights there wasn't even a show and this was incredibly unusual from my experience. Having cruised on NCL for our last 4 cruises I guess I'm influenced by the NCL entertainment which is top notch, with superb dancing, large variety of production shows, various "fly-in" entertainers, etc. The nightly entertainment is something we usually seek out but on this ship it was disappointing. By day there were the usual trivia sessions, bingo, pool area activities, etc, but so many slots in the programme were devoted to sessions such as "Improve your metabolism", "Hair tips and tricks", "Look younger in 5 minutes", "Detox". These were actually Spa selling sessions! This seems to be the trend on many cruise ships, not just Carnival, but it would be nice to have some genuine sessions that provided information and fun and not presentation of the Spa's products. It was disappointing that the Versailles Lounge was no longer used for dancing. On my S. Pacific cruise there was regular dancing in that lounge, with a versatile group playing there on many nights. As dancers we loved that. Now it seems to just be used for the comedy club. Perhaps the fact that our cruise was only 6 nights didn't show us the full range of possibilities... I hope so as last year we also booked on the Carnival Spirit for its 19 night cruise to Singapore in May this year. Now I'm actually a little worried and hoping I'll have a different experience from this time. My other real peeve was the food! Dining room food was okay, but only okay. Once again I'm probably comparing to past cruises, but I'm also comparing to past Spirit cruises and the quality and range has definitely dropped. Dinner is something I usually happily anticipate but not so this time; it was average. The service in the dining room, though, was very good and there was a fun vibe there. As for the Lido buffet, what on earth has happened there!!??? Back when I last cruised on this ship, mid 2013, I was as happy as I'd been when I cruised on the Spirit when it was still sailing in international waters. Then there was heaps of choice and no vast snaking queues waiting to reach the food counters. I don't know why this happens... you can wait in a queue for what seems like 20 minutes and probably is, just wanting to grab one item and move on. But you have to stand and wait whilst every person in front of you deliberates about what they want on their plate and - sometimes painstakingly - fills their plate. I might want only one item but naturally I wouldn't push in so the only alternative is to stand in those queues. I keep puzzling why the queues. In all my other cruises it wasn't such torture to get food. Sometimes on this cruise I gave up! No chance of weight gain there! I'm used to food bars where you can approach without inconveniencing anyone, get your food item, and leave. It's easy to see the choices and easy to access them. You might have to wait for an occasional person to make their choice but that's not a problem; you don't have to wait for a huge line of people to serve themselves at a small food area. To new cruisers or those who have only cruised out of Australia on Carnival: It doesn't have to be this way! Pizza... I'm not fond of it but my husband decided to have pizza one lunchtime. You firstly place an order and then join the throng at the other end of the counter who are waiting for their orders. Carnival, why? I suppose the idea is that you are getting pizza as fresh as it comes, but you can still get that by having large pizzas cooked, sliced and laid out on a decent sized accessible foodbar. That way you can get a single slice if you want (I woudn't mind a single slice but not a WHOLE pizza). Pizza is popular so when I've seen it done this way, those already cooked pizzas are gone before they have time to cool or dry out, but they are constantly being replaced by more pizzas. I think Carnival should look at other cruiselines and how they do it. Norwegian cruiseline, for example, and RCI. I can only hope that the configuration and procedures in the Lido buffet will be upgraded when the ship is in for refurbishment. Why isn't "washy washy" being encouraged? There are hand sanitising stations here and there, but this is the first cruise I've done in years where there isn't a staff member stationed at the entrance and requesting hands be sanitised upon entry. So the positives for this ship: Cruise Director Gary, staff and service, roomier cabins. Negatives: Lido buffet and food in general. Only average entertainment. I can't comment on the ship's tours as we always organise our own tours prior to a cruise, or pick one up when we disembark. It's cheaper that way and you're more likely to get an individualised and happy experience.

4th Carnival Spirit cruise & disappointed

Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by sofmall

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2018
  • Destination: South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
We chose this cruise as a short break to a place we'd always wanted to go... Tasmania. The fact that there was one day in Port Arthur followed by two in Hobart (the ship overnighted there) offered us more time in ports we wanted to go to than other Tassie cruises we considered.

We'd cruised on Carnival Spirit 3 times in the past: to Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands before the ship made Australia it's home port, and then to the S Pacific soon after it moved to Australia. We loved all those cruises and had no hesitation in booking this time.

This was our 18th cruise. We've cruised with P&O in the early 2000's, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean. I love any cruise and all have some more positive features and some more negative. I don't nitpick as I feel we're fortunate to actually be able to cruise.

Someone who hasn't cruised before, or who has only cruised on Carnival out of Australia, is probably going to rate a cruise differently than someone who has cruised more and on various cruiselines. I am writing this review from the point of comparing to the 3 other Spirit cruises we've done, and comparing to other cruiselines' offerings.

The staff and service on Carnival Spirit still impressed me. There's a happy friendly vibe, especially in the main dining room. Our cruise director Gary was also a standout - he was temporarily replacing Eli, the regular cruise director and was pretty new at the job, but he was brilliant.

On sea days I try to go to the gym so I was able to go twice on this cruise. I don't use the equipment, but do my own pilates mat routine. The gym is bright and at the front of the ship, and seems to have plenty of equipment though my husband complained to me that none of the bikes were working on either day. What I found a pest was that there was no real floor space for mat work. You have to find a little corner or thoroughfare and plonk your mat down there, hoping you won't be in anyone's way. I'm used to finding in ship gyms an entire alcove or room that's devoted to fitness classes or seminars and being able to workout there. I know I'm in the minority as most people seem to head to the gym to use the bikes or treadmills but some dedicated floor space would be wonderful.

I was underwhelmed by the entertainment. Some nights there wasn't even a show and this was incredibly unusual from my experience. Having cruised on NCL for our last 4 cruises I guess I'm influenced by the NCL entertainment which is top notch, with superb dancing, large variety of production shows, various "fly-in" entertainers, etc. The nightly entertainment is something we usually seek out but on this ship it was disappointing.

By day there were the usual trivia sessions, bingo, pool area activities, etc, but so many slots in the programme were devoted to sessions such as "Improve your metabolism", "Hair tips and tricks", "Look younger in 5 minutes", "Detox". These were actually Spa selling sessions! This seems to be the trend on many cruise ships, not just Carnival, but it would be nice to have some genuine sessions that provided information and fun and not presentation of the Spa's products.

It was disappointing that the Versailles Lounge was no longer used for dancing. On my S. Pacific cruise there was regular dancing in that lounge, with a versatile group playing there on many nights. As dancers we loved that. Now it seems to just be used for the comedy club. Perhaps the fact that our cruise was only 6 nights didn't show us the full range of possibilities... I hope so as last year we also booked on the Carnival Spirit for its 19 night cruise to Singapore in May this year. Now I'm actually a little worried and hoping I'll have a different experience from this time.

My other real peeve was the food! Dining room food was okay, but only okay. Once again I'm probably comparing to past cruises, but I'm also comparing to past Spirit cruises and the quality and range has definitely dropped. Dinner is something I usually happily anticipate but not so this time; it was average. The service in the dining room, though, was very good and there was a fun vibe there.

As for the Lido buffet, what on earth has happened there!!??? Back when I last cruised on this ship, mid 2013, I was as happy as I'd been when I cruised on the Spirit when it was still sailing in international waters. Then there was heaps of choice and no vast snaking queues waiting to reach the food counters. I don't know why this happens... you can wait in a queue for what seems like 20 minutes and probably is, just wanting to grab one item and move on. But you have to stand and wait whilst every person in front of you deliberates about what they want on their plate and - sometimes painstakingly - fills their plate. I might want only one item but naturally I wouldn't push in so the only alternative is to stand in those queues.

I keep puzzling why the queues. In all my other cruises it wasn't such torture to get food. Sometimes on this cruise I gave up! No chance of weight gain there! I'm used to food bars where you can approach without inconveniencing anyone, get your food item, and leave. It's easy to see the choices and easy to access them. You might have to wait for an occasional person to make their choice but that's not a problem; you don't have to wait for a huge line of people to serve themselves at a small food area.

To new cruisers or those who have only cruised out of Australia on Carnival: It doesn't have to be this way!

Pizza... I'm not fond of it but my husband decided to have pizza one lunchtime. You firstly place an order and then join the throng at the other end of the counter who are waiting for their orders. Carnival, why? I suppose the idea is that you are getting pizza as fresh as it comes, but you can still get that by having large pizzas cooked, sliced and laid out on a decent sized accessible foodbar. That way you can get a single slice if you want (I woudn't mind a single slice but not a WHOLE pizza). Pizza is popular so when I've seen it done this way, those already cooked pizzas are gone before they have time to cool or dry out, but they are constantly being replaced by more pizzas.

I think Carnival should look at other cruiselines and how they do it. Norwegian cruiseline, for example, and RCI. I can only hope that the configuration and procedures in the Lido buffet will be upgraded when the ship is in for refurbishment.

Why isn't "washy washy" being encouraged? There are hand sanitising stations here and there, but this is the first cruise I've done in years where there isn't a staff member stationed at the entrance and requesting hands be sanitised upon entry.

So the positives for this ship: Cruise Director Gary, staff and service, roomier cabins.

Negatives: Lido buffet and food in general. Only average entertainment.

I can't comment on the ship's tours as we always organise our own tours prior to a cruise, or pick one up when we disembark. It's cheaper that way and you're more likely to get an individualised and happy experience.
sofmall’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin 8C 5203
We had a regular balcony, mid ship.

The cabin, though showing signs of wear and tear, as is the ship (which didn't bother me as I know a refurb will be happening in May 2018), was roomier than other cabins I recall having in the last few years on other cruiselines. Just a bit more space makes a big difference; there was plenty of storage throughout and room to move, with a nice long couch to sit on.

The location was perfect - I used to tend to sea sickness so always try to book a cabin lower down and close to midship. We were on deck 5, starboard, mid, and as it turned out were only a few steps from the elevators and stairs, yet it wasn't at all noisy.
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Hobart
    Booked free walking tour online prior to cruise. Our guide was Lily. She was incredibly knowledgeable, interesting and helpful. On the free tours you just tip what you think the tour was worth. Recommended! A great overview of the main features in Hobart, good for a short visit.
    View All 13,273 Hobart Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Hobart Cruise Port Review
  • Huon Valley
    I'd booked a tour with Tasmania Tour Guide online prior to the cruise. It included Mt Wellington, Richmond, Salamanca, Battery Point. On the day it was so rainy and windy that it would have been impossible to see the view from the top of Mt Wellington so our tour guide substituted with driving us to many areas not usually visited by tours. Excellent experience and much cheaper than a ship's tour.
    View All 1 Huon Valley Reviews
  • Port Arthur
    Port Arthur was extremely interesting, a very peaceful and beautiful, historic place, but sad as well when you learnt the stories about its history as a penal settlement. We only did the free walking tour, then did our own thing. There was more to see than you could cover in a single day but we managed to see what interested us most, using the map that was given to us.

    Staff there were very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable.

    I just wish Carnival would have informed us that our cruise included the entry fee into Port Arthur ($30-something pp). I'd paid for our entry online prior to the cruise, then had to go to the Visitors Centre to have it refunded.
    View All 51 Port Arthur Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Port Arthur Cruise Port Review