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This was a first time cruise for my family and another (10 of us in total). I've travelled a fair bit and worked in resorts, but have never done a cruise and I was pleasantly surprised. To cut to the chase - my wife is coeliac and had major issues with the food she was served. We told them she'd need special food (gluten and dairy free) and we were assured she'd be looked after prior to booking/departure etc. Her expectations around food are pretty low, but she's been treated to good coeliac food on other recent holidays we've been on. Really, all she wants is average food that won't set off her immune issues/allergies. It quickly became apparent to us on the cruise that every meal was going to be a gamble. We had a standing table for dinner and the same waiters every night and they quickly got a handle on the situation - however, the odd side dish or dessert would slip through will dairy or gluen in it. And some of the gf/df mains they served were terrible. Overall, dinner was good though. Lunch and breakfast was a different story however. The only coeliac breakfast foods on offer in the restaurant were pancakes and fruit... and the pancakes weren't great. The non-allergen food wasn't really worth the wait there either, so we started eat breakfast at the buffet from day 2. At least the bacon there was gf/df. For me (without food allergies) - the buffet was great. Burgers, Mexican, omelettes and pizza were a highlight for me and I would have been happy to have dinner there most nights. It was a nightmare for my wife however, as just about everything available wasn't gf/df - the pizza place did a decent gf/df pizza, but not something you'd want for every meal. Occasionally, we'd find friendly of sympathetic chef who'd cook a meal specifically for her, but we found that the vast majority of staff would run with the low-risk option of answering 'no' when we asked if something was gluten or dairy free. Only a few of them would actually check. Even though she was as careful as possible, by about day 5, her food allergies were significantly triggered and it put a damper on the whole cruise for us. The only other damper was the ridiculous 'roll call' held on deck about 2 hours after boarding. I've never seen anything like it. If you haven't been through it before, I suggest you do all you can to avoid it. The process consists of lining all passengers up on deck 3 at the 4 evacuation points and standing there, packed in like sardines in the belting sun, for about an hour with no explanation about what is going on. Those who come early are punished by having to stand at the back and by simply being there the longest. After about an hour (or a point where they think enough passengers have turned up perhaps?), they give you a 5-second demonstration of how to put on a life jacket that only about 5% of people can see and then turn you loose. It was like a re-enactment of the roll call at a POW camp - staff told us there was 'no sitting' and people started feeling faint and claustrophobic. Not a great way to start the cruise! Also - the kids club pretty much sucked. We had kids in 3 age groups and the only ones to enjoy it were the 8 year olds. The kids club spaces were stuffy and boring for the older kids.

Awesome experience overall, but not without significant food allergy issues

Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by Steven_76

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2019
  • Destination: South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
This was a first time cruise for my family and another (10 of us in total). I've travelled a fair bit and worked in resorts, but have never done a cruise and I was pleasantly surprised. To cut to the chase - my wife is coeliac and had major issues with the food she was served. We told them she'd need special food (gluten and dairy free) and we were assured she'd be looked after prior to booking/departure etc. Her expectations around food are pretty low, but she's been treated to good coeliac food on other recent holidays we've been on. Really, all she wants is average food that won't set off her immune issues/allergies. It quickly became apparent to us on the cruise that every meal was going to be a gamble.

We had a standing table for dinner and the same waiters every night and they quickly got a handle on the situation - however, the odd side dish or dessert would slip through will dairy or gluen in it. And some of the gf/df mains they served were terrible. Overall, dinner was good though.

Lunch and breakfast was a different story however. The only coeliac breakfast foods on offer in the restaurant were pancakes and fruit... and the pancakes weren't great. The non-allergen food wasn't really worth the wait there either, so we started eat breakfast at the buffet from day 2. At least the bacon there was gf/df.

For me (without food allergies) - the buffet was great. Burgers, Mexican, omelettes and pizza were a highlight for me and I would have been happy to have dinner there most nights. It was a nightmare for my wife however, as just about everything available wasn't gf/df - the pizza place did a decent gf/df pizza, but not something you'd want for every meal. Occasionally, we'd find friendly of sympathetic chef who'd cook a meal specifically for her, but we found that the vast majority of staff would run with the low-risk option of answering 'no' when we asked if something was gluten or dairy free. Only a few of them would actually check.

Even though she was as careful as possible, by about day 5, her food allergies were significantly triggered and it put a damper on the whole cruise for us.

The only other damper was the ridiculous 'roll call' held on deck about 2 hours after boarding. I've never seen anything like it. If you haven't been through it before, I suggest you do all you can to avoid it. The process consists of lining all passengers up on deck 3 at the 4 evacuation points and standing there, packed in like sardines in the belting sun, for about an hour with no explanation about what is going on. Those who come early are punished by having to stand at the back and by simply being there the longest. After about an hour (or a point where they think enough passengers have turned up perhaps?), they give you a 5-second demonstration of how to put on a life jacket that only about 5% of people can see and then turn you loose. It was like a re-enactment of the roll call at a POW camp - staff told us there was 'no sitting' and people started feeling faint and claustrophobic. Not a great way to start the cruise!

Also - the kids club pretty much sucked. We had kids in 3 age groups and the only ones to enjoy it were the 8 year olds. The kids club spaces were stuffy and boring for the older kids.
Steven_76’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Dining
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Ages 7 to 9
Ages 10 to 12
Ages 13 to 15
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin 8A 4215/4217
Was more spacious than we were expecting. The deck was private and awesome. We got a conjoined room with the kids - wish there had been a lock on the interconnecting door!
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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