Despite reading negative commentary about Carnival and the Sprint our recent experience in early August from Sydney to the Coral Sea and back was excellent. The cabin and location was all we needed, a big balcony was terrific as we spend a great deal of time there, service provided by the cabin stewards was as good, if not better than we have enjoyed on other cruise lines. Where Carnival find people so professional is beyond me - it must have a great deal to do with the training programs they implement.
Food quality was very good and the entertainment was also beyond our expectations, particularly a magic show late in the cruise which was really very well done.
We did book in advance the Any Time Dining option - without first reading the fine print in that [unlike Princess and RC] you can't pre book a table each morning for that evening at a time that suits you. So that means lining up and on our second night, we lined up for some considerable time - although the staff do give you a beeper to notify you of when your table is ready. Still this didn't suit us so we asked to change to the late sitting, it was arranged in minutes with no fuss, and we then enjoyed a table with four other wonderful people of a similar age and interests. Our adjustment turned out to be a real positive given the company we had for the rest of the voyage.
We can't really comment on much else as we are not pool people and rarely spend much time in port on non sea days. I will say that Carnival would be well served selling a few red and white wines under the $30 per bottle mark - I think that would be a welcome addition to the largely Australia market given decent Australian and New Zealand wine prices are relatively cheap at home and perhaps the margin enjoyed by the cruise line is I'm sure, well beyond profitable given the quantities they must buy in.
Finally the children on board. There were many, how is it that so many school age children, up to what appeared to be early to mid teens, are allowed to break school to go on a cruise is beyond me. This is of course is not a Carnival issue - but it mystifies me that parents would do this sort of thing. In the event Carnival take care of them very well - there seems to be an abundance of events for them to do and we just didn't have a problem at all with the young ones anywhere at anytime.
Carnival Spirit is a great ship, with good food, terrific service and wonderful amenities. Perhaps some people have had a bad experience now and again - but for us we simply couldn't have been more pleased with the overall experience and value for money.
We encourage anyone who want's a balcony to try and obtain this cabin. Perfectly located by the lifts and stairs yet around the corner from both so we had zero noise problems. The room shape makes the cabin sizable - almost a Mini Suite dimension and the big balcony is wonderful and well protected. Sometimes there was overhead noise being under the 24 hr Pizza cafe - but if you don't take some sort of ear protection on any cruise in any cabin - well you are under prepared in the first place.