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If you are a family with kids, and have not cruised before, you will have a good holiday, and some elements were handled very well. However Carnival overall simply does not meet the standards set by other cruise lines we have experienced EMBARKATION was quicker than other lines, and bags were also at our cabin more quickly. The ship is kept beautifully clean, but the decor is a jumbled cacophony of Art Deco, Egyptian, Chinese, Renaissance, Mexican, and any other theme the drunken decorator could come up with. Layout is easy - most public entertainment areas, bars, dining and activities on decks 2, 3, 9 & 10, and clear guides throughout. CABIN is good - slightly more storage and bathroom space than interior cabins on other ships. Main problem with layout - the Adults Only Serenity Retreat was right below the water-slides: shrieking children are not our idea of serenity! DINING was fine for kids, but not up to the standard we are accustomed to on other lines. I would like to say before I review the food, that our dining room team of three waiters gave fantastic service - nothing was too much trouble for them, and they were wonderful with the kids. The La Playa buffet food was mediocre, and mostly the same menu items day after day after day at breakfast, salad bar, sandwich, pie, sausage and pizza stations. The only variations were at the one outlet serving the meals such as curries or fish dishes, and the sweets bar, with new selections each day. The quality of the food overall there was a little lower than the "All you can eat" at our local club. After hours, the ONLY food available is greasy pizza, unless you want to pay for room service. Not even a crummy pre-wrapped biscuit to have with your cuppa. The Empire Dining Room food was better, but not fantastic. (Example, a "Tower of Leek and broccoli" on the menu, was a couple of overdone pieces squished into a tiny dish). Several times the signature dessert of Melting Chocolate cake arrived at the table as a ramekin of uncooked cake mix. Chef's Table was our main disappointment of the cruise. On every other cruise Chef's Table has been an amazing fine dining experience, with an elegant private dining room, beautiful china and glassware, incredible food with matching wines, and good conversation. In comparison, the Carnival Chef's Table, at the same price as other lines, was a MEDIOCRE JOKE. * Appetisers eaten standing up, served on sharp plastic spoons, and so rushed we barely swallowed one before the next was there. * Entire CT served in the galley, with a tablecloth thrown over a table so big we could not talk to any other guests because they were too far away. We could not have talked to them anyway, because the din, shouting and clatter of the galley meant we could not have heard them. We also could not hear most of what the chef was saying as he explained each course. A galley tour and a CT are two completely different experiences, and do NOT belong together. * Food was good, but not of a standard we would expect from a CT. Pork belly was full of gristle, and the fat not rendered. De-boned quail was overdone and had a bone in it which hurt my husband's tooth (but the staff argued with him and basically told him he was wrong about this!). Meats had not been adequately rested, so plates were swimming in meat juices and blood. Cocoa content was so high in the choc desert it was dry and claggy and not possible to eat a whole serving. The bread, and the citrus dessert, were excellent. The food and presentation in Nouveau Restaurant were far closer to what we expected from a CT experience. * Every other CT has matched wines. CT on Spirit has the cheap house red and house white. As I do not drink, I was left with water, and never offered to obtain even a soft drink for me to go with the meal. We asked the waitress a question about the wine, and she had no clue. Asked if there was a sommelier and she said "What's that ?!" She really had no idea how to serve, and it turns out that the waitress assigned to CT (which is meant to be the pinnacle experience of dining on the ship) was on her first cruise! ACTIVITIES - Carnival is geared to young families, and did well for them. Our grandchildren (girl 7, boy 9) loved Kids Club - however the exorbitant cost of up to $50 for them to stay in the evenings if parents had an activity to attend was excessive - when our own children were with Royal Caribbean Kids Club it continued until 11 pm every night. The water-slides and pools were popular and they loved the Dr Seuss activities. Our adult kids report that many of the games in the Arcade were "stuffed" or faulty. As a family, we love the Trivia and games. These were of a similar standard to other cruises, except for one thing - on other ships, teams exchange papers for marking, while on Spirit, teams mark their own papers. This seems only a little thing, but while most people are honest and play fair, it became obvious that some teams were adding answers and doctoring their scores. This system means that the cheats often win, and those who play fair are penalised, which takes away some of the shine. When we tried to ask the crew member running the game to swap papers for scoring, it was refused, even though we also heard other cruisers making the same complaints about the cheats. Several times answers were wrong, and the quiz master said that "that question is wrong, but the boss won't let us change it", or allowed points for all answers given for those questions, or for teams who protested loudly that their wrong answers were correct. Games need to be fair for all playing. COMEDY CLUB was great overall, with three of the four comedians catering equally well for the PG and adult audiences. Michael Bennett, Jacques Barrett and Stephen J Whitely were outstanding. (The fourth, John Cruickshank, sadly appeared to feel that simply picking on audience members and unleashing a stream of F and C words was enough to make it a funny adult show - it is not.) THEATRE PERFORMANCES - on Royal Caribbean ships, we stay for the show almost every night, and these have been a variety of top class acts which we would be happy to pay full price for back home. A typical cruise would include specialist music acts, professional dance troupes, and variety performers such as hypnotists or magicians. On Carnival Spirit, the show every night was the same 4 male and 4 female dancers, simply singing and dancing a different theme each night - 80's, 90's etc). They worked very hard, but did not come close to the standard of any acts seen on our previous 4 cruises. We tried going to several shows, but lost interest and left again after a few minutes. There was one act of a magician / escape artist which was quite good, I think she was part of the crew as the 8 regular dancers were part of her show. DANCING- hubby and I love to dance, and always seek out the best live music on cruises to dance in the evenings, however Spirit seems to almost actively discourage the idea of couples dancing, even though they promote this on their website. In the Red Frog Pub, there is a very small dance floor, but the music is mostly rock (the 3 man band is very good). So we headed to the central lobby, where a duo plays easy listening tunes and there is another small dance floor. We dance Ceroc (a mix of Swing and Modern Jive) which needs a fairly fast tempo. However, whenever we got up to dance to a quick song, this duo would immediately change back to slow music, even if we were the only couple dancing, and specifically requested some faster songs. A few other cruisers even noticed this happening and commented to us about it. We could occasionally dance to the excellent guitarist at the Alchemy Bar, but the dance floor there is about the size of a dining table! The cruise activities also included a Salsa and a Ballroom dance class, but the instructor (one of the show dancers) pushed the class so fast that even as fairly experienced dancers we struggled to keep up, and most of the guests were hopelessly bewildered. SERVICE was great overall - the majority of staff went out of their way to be welcoming and helpful. However, the few times we raised an issue with a staff member, the response was to argue with us and tell us why we were wrong!! The waiter we spoke to about the bone at Chef's Table took the plate away, then brought it back (without bone chip) and tried to show us that it was just pepper on the plate. When we arrived for a booked lunch in Nouveau, we told the waitress that we would like to try and get to another event after our lunch, and would like to order quickly. We then waited 20 minutes without service, and when we called her over and asked again if we could order, she told us this was Nouveau and we should not expect a quick service or lunch !! SHORE EXCURSIONS - like all cruise lines, the shore excursions are exorbitantly priced, with a minimum 150% mark-up over the same tours booked with local companies. Unless you have mobility issues, or want to go a long way from the ship, and need the guarantee that the ship will wait for you if delayed, do your own thing. There are plenty of affordable and interesting options available, often identical to the ship tours. On Isle of Pines, our $20 local bus tour travelled in convoy with the $50 ship tour bus (and we got an extra stop, as the ship bus was too big to get down the road to Queen Hortense’s Cave). Carnival Spirit is fine for a cheap casual family holiday with young kids, but as discerning cruisers with a love of good food and entertainment we will be returning to Royal Caribbean.

Fine for young families, but experienced cruisers will be disappointed

Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by craftykathy1602

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2019
  • Destination: South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Interior
If you are a family with kids, and have not cruised before, you will have a good holiday, and some elements were handled very well. However Carnival overall simply does not meet the standards set by other cruise lines we have experienced

EMBARKATION was quicker than other lines, and bags were also at our cabin more quickly.

The ship is kept beautifully clean, but the decor is a jumbled cacophony of Art Deco, Egyptian, Chinese, Renaissance, Mexican, and any other theme the drunken decorator could come up with. Layout is easy - most public entertainment areas, bars, dining and activities on decks 2, 3, 9 & 10, and clear guides throughout. CABIN is good - slightly more storage and bathroom space than interior cabins on other ships. Main problem with layout - the Adults Only Serenity Retreat was right below the water-slides: shrieking children are not our idea of serenity!

DINING was fine for kids, but not up to the standard we are accustomed to on other lines.

I would like to say before I review the food, that our dining room team of three waiters gave fantastic service - nothing was too much trouble for them, and they were wonderful with the kids.

The La Playa buffet food was mediocre, and mostly the same menu items day after day after day at breakfast, salad bar, sandwich, pie, sausage and pizza stations. The only variations were at the one outlet serving the meals such as curries or fish dishes, and the sweets bar, with new selections each day. The quality of the food overall there was a little lower than the "All you can eat" at our local club. After hours, the ONLY food available is greasy pizza, unless you want to pay for room service. Not even a crummy pre-wrapped biscuit to have with your cuppa.

The Empire Dining Room food was better, but not fantastic. (Example, a "Tower of Leek and broccoli" on the menu, was a couple of overdone pieces squished into a tiny dish). Several times the signature dessert of Melting Chocolate cake arrived at the table as a ramekin of uncooked cake mix.

Chef's Table was our main disappointment of the cruise. On every other cruise Chef's Table has been an amazing fine dining experience, with an elegant private dining room, beautiful china and glassware, incredible food with matching wines, and good conversation. In comparison, the Carnival Chef's Table, at the same price as other lines, was a MEDIOCRE JOKE.

* Appetisers eaten standing up, served on sharp plastic spoons, and so rushed we barely swallowed one before the next was there.

* Entire CT served in the galley, with a tablecloth thrown over a table so big we could not talk to any other guests because they were too far away. We could not have talked to them anyway, because the din, shouting and clatter of the galley meant we could not have heard them. We also could not hear most of what the chef was saying as he explained each course. A galley tour and a CT are two completely different experiences, and do NOT belong together.

* Food was good, but not of a standard we would expect from a CT. Pork belly was full of gristle, and the fat not rendered. De-boned quail was overdone and had a bone in it which hurt my husband's tooth (but the staff argued with him and basically told him he was wrong about this!). Meats had not been adequately rested, so plates were swimming in meat juices and blood. Cocoa content was so high in the choc desert it was dry and claggy and not possible to eat a whole serving. The bread, and the citrus dessert, were excellent.

The food and presentation in Nouveau Restaurant were far closer to what we expected from a CT experience.

* Every other CT has matched wines. CT on Spirit has the cheap house red and house white. As I do not drink, I was left with water, and never offered to obtain even a soft drink for me to go with the meal. We asked the waitress a question about the wine, and she had no clue. Asked if there was a sommelier and she said "What's that ?!" She really had no idea how to serve, and it turns out that the waitress assigned to CT (which is meant to be the pinnacle experience of dining on the ship) was on her first cruise!

ACTIVITIES - Carnival is geared to young families, and did well for them. Our grandchildren (girl 7, boy 9) loved Kids Club - however the exorbitant cost of up to $50 for them to stay in the evenings if parents had an activity to attend was excessive - when our own children were with Royal Caribbean Kids Club it continued until 11 pm every night. The water-slides and pools were popular and they loved the Dr Seuss activities. Our adult kids report that many of the games in the Arcade were "stuffed" or faulty.

As a family, we love the Trivia and games. These were of a similar standard to other cruises, except for one thing - on other ships, teams exchange papers for marking, while on Spirit, teams mark their own papers. This seems only a little thing, but while most people are honest and play fair, it became obvious that some teams were adding answers and doctoring their scores. This system means that the cheats often win, and those who play fair are penalised, which takes away some of the shine. When we tried to ask the crew member running the game to swap papers for scoring, it was refused, even though we also heard other cruisers making the same complaints about the cheats. Several times answers were wrong, and the quiz master said that "that question is wrong, but the boss won't let us change it", or allowed points for all answers given for those questions, or for teams who protested loudly that their wrong answers were correct. Games need to be fair for all playing.

COMEDY CLUB was great overall, with three of the four comedians catering equally well for the PG and adult audiences. Michael Bennett, Jacques Barrett and Stephen J Whitely were outstanding. (The fourth, John Cruickshank, sadly appeared to feel that simply picking on audience members and unleashing a stream of F and C words was enough to make it a funny adult show - it is not.)

THEATRE PERFORMANCES - on Royal Caribbean ships, we stay for the show almost every night, and these have been a variety of top class acts which we would be happy to pay full price for back home. A typical cruise would include specialist music acts, professional dance troupes, and variety performers such as hypnotists or magicians. On Carnival Spirit, the show every night was the same 4 male and 4 female dancers, simply singing and dancing a different theme each night - 80's, 90's etc). They worked very hard, but did not come close to the standard of any acts seen on our previous 4 cruises. We tried going to several shows, but lost interest and left again after a few minutes. There was one act of a magician / escape artist which was quite good, I think she was part of the crew as the 8 regular dancers were part of her show.

DANCING- hubby and I love to dance, and always seek out the best live music on cruises to dance in the evenings, however Spirit seems to almost actively discourage the idea of couples dancing, even though they promote this on their website. In the Red Frog Pub, there is a very small dance floor, but the music is mostly rock (the 3 man band is very good). So we headed to the central lobby, where a duo plays easy listening tunes and there is another small dance floor. We dance Ceroc (a mix of Swing and Modern Jive) which needs a fairly fast tempo. However, whenever we got up to dance to a quick song, this duo would immediately change back to slow music, even if we were the only couple dancing, and specifically requested some faster songs. A few other cruisers even noticed this happening and commented to us about it. We could occasionally dance to the excellent guitarist at the Alchemy Bar, but the dance floor there is about the size of a dining table! The cruise activities also included a Salsa and a Ballroom dance class, but the instructor (one of the show dancers) pushed the class so fast that even as fairly experienced dancers we struggled to keep up, and most of the guests were hopelessly bewildered.

SERVICE was great overall - the majority of staff went out of their way to be welcoming and helpful. However, the few times we raised an issue with a staff member, the response was to argue with us and tell us why we were wrong!! The waiter we spoke to about the bone at Chef's Table took the plate away, then brought it back (without bone chip) and tried to show us that it was just pepper on the plate. When we arrived for a booked lunch in Nouveau, we told the waitress that we would like to try and get to another event after our lunch, and would like to order quickly. We then waited 20 minutes without service, and when we called her over and asked again if we could order, she told us this was Nouveau and we should not expect a quick service or lunch !!

SHORE EXCURSIONS - like all cruise lines, the shore excursions are exorbitantly priced, with a minimum 150% mark-up over the same tours booked with local companies. Unless you have mobility issues, or want to go a long way from the ship, and need the guarantee that the ship will wait for you if delayed, do your own thing. There are plenty of affordable and interesting options available, often identical to the ship tours. On Isle of Pines, our $20 local bus tour travelled in convoy with the $50 ship tour bus (and we got an extra stop, as the ship bus was too big to get down the road to Queen Hortense’s Cave).

Carnival Spirit is fine for a cheap casual family holiday with young kids, but as discerning cruisers with a love of good food and entertainment we will be returning to Royal Caribbean.
craftykathy1602’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 7 to 9
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin 4D 7270
One of the few places where Carnival exceeded RC. There was similar layout and cabin space to other ships, but more clothing storage space and more bathroom space, and the TV is set up high out of the way, unlike other ships which have it taking up space at desktop level.
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