Don't expect the jaw-dropping spectaculars staged on U.S. ships. Instead, Spirit's capable and hard-working in-house entertainment team turn their hand to old school song and dance revues, such as songs from the shows and a showcase of different dance styles, performed twice nightly (8.30 and 10.30 p.m.) in the Broadway Show Lounge on Broadway Deck 5, with additional seating on the Promenade Deck 6 mezzanine area.
Passengers can fill their time aboard with a range of activities listed in the daily Cruise News. High Spirits, aft on Promenade Deck 6, is a flexible venue used to host morning paid-for yoga sessions, a daily pre-recorded comedy programme or concert shown on a big screen, such as Morecambe and Wise or the Three Tenors, and activities including paid-for bingo or free line dancing classes with the entertainment team. On some nights, members of the entertainment team return to put on a cabaret.
The Explorers' Lounge on Deck 5 is used for gentle daytime pursuits, such as boules and carpet bowls, and it's also a pleasant spot to read a book. It's traditionally furnished with comfy bucket chairs and banquettes with nautical memorabilia dotted around. Also on the same deck, a much livelier daytime venue is the alfresco Lido Pool Bar area with music, various demonstrations -- such as towel animal creations, cocktails, sushi-making and napkin folding -- and the daily light-hearted trivia quiz.
In addition to daily in-cabin films, Spirit also boasts a cinema on Deck 5 with two daytime screenings at 12.15 and 3 p.m. with of a good variety of nearly new-release movies.
The enrichment programme is limited to port talks, pre-recorded TV documentaries such as "Planet Earth" and presentations linked to items sold in the onboard shop, such as Faberge and amber.
There is an excellent choice of shore excursions. For instance, from the Scottish port of Rosyth there were six, ranging from a city transfer to explore Edinburgh independently to a morning's guided tour of the Scottish capital and its castle, a five-hour trip to the scenic Trossachs and a six-hour excursion to see the Falkirk Wheel, the world's first rotating boatlift. As spaces are limited, it's recommended to book tours early.
The ship also carries mountain and touring bikes for guests to explore ports of call on guided four- to five-hour excursions covering an average of 15 to 20 miles. Participants are equipped with helmets and rucksacks.
Fairly low-key nightly entertainment takes place in some of the bars and lounges. Horizons on Deck 9 has a very attractive inlaid wooden dance floor in the pattern of a compass. It stays open until 1.45 a.m. and features cabaret and live music at various times throughout the evening. Meanwhile, High Spirits on Deck 6 turns into a nightclub after dark and stays open until the early hours, making it a magnet for party animals. On Deck 5 there is a small casino with slot machines and gaming tables for roulette, stud poker and blackjack, which is open from 8 p.m. to around 2 a.m. The cinema also has two evening screenings at 7 p.m. and midnight.
A very pleasant surprise on Spirit is the cost of the drinks, which are cheaper than U.K. pub prices. Expect to pay around £3.70 for a pint of beer and £4 for a glass of wine. Daily drink specials are also flagged up in the daily Cruise News.
All-inclusive drinks packages are also available, with prices varying depending on the length of the cruise and when you buy them (they can be prepaid at the time of booking and sometimes there are offers). They include a full drinks package -- with a supplement for certain premium drinks -- a beer and wine package, soft drinks package and even a freshly squeezed juice package. Couples need to weigh up the value if one person doesn't drink much (as with all cruise ships, both passengers sharing a cabin have to buy a package each). But, if you enjoy a tipple then it's probably the way to go. However, some passengers may find it annoying that the drinks packages are so energetically promoted on the first day of the cruise.
Explorers' Lounge (Deck 5): Located forward on the Broadway Deck, this airy nautical-themed lounge is a good spot to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and listen to live piano music.
Raffles (Deck 5): The midship piano bar has a long bar with stools and comfy ocean-view chairs and tables.
Lido Pool Bar (Deck 5): Situated aft on the Broadway Deck, the open-air bar area is a lively spot.
High Spirits (Deck 6): The bar serves drinks throughout the day and after dinner.
Mezzanine Bar (Deck 6): Located outside the top level of the two-storey Broadway Show Lounge, this is the place to get a drink before the evening show.
Horizons (Deck 9): For a quiet drink, Horizons is a lovely, atmospheric venue situated forward on the Eagle Deck with a circular bar shaped like a crow's nest.
The ship has three pools. The main pool, which is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., is situated aft on the Broadway Deck 5 and gets busy -- and noisy -- on sunny days. This main pool is paired with an adjoining small pool for kids to splash in. A more relaxing spot for couples and passengers without youngsters is the secluded adults-only Oceans Pool and whirlpool situated aft on Bridge Deck 8, next to the health club. It also benefits from excellent sea views overlooking the stern.
For walkers and joggers, five circuits around Promenade Deck 6 add up to 1 mile. Right at the top of the ship, on Eagle Deck 9, there is a large court devoted to sports such as basketball, football and table tennis. This outdoor area is open during the morning and again in the evening.
Aside from the areas around the pools on Deck 5 and Deck 8, which are set out with loungers, a standout feature is the gorgeous full wraparound teak deck, on the namesake Promenade Deck 6. This is much quieter than the pool areas and there are rattan chairs for lounging.
The 24-hour reception desk is located midship on Main Deck 4.
The public areas -- such as the excursion desk, photo gallery and Broad Street shops, which include clothing, jewellery, perfume, gifts and a useful mini-market for everyday essentials -- are mainly clustered on Broadway Deck 5. Here you'll also find the spacious card and reading room, spread across the forward area, where all manner of board games and jigsaws are set out for passengers to while away time. Off this room is Browser's Corner with a 24-hour library (mostly popular novels) and six computer stations where internet use racks up at a 25 pence per minute charge. Passengers who want to use the internet frequently are better off buying a package from reception, although it should be noted that Wi-Fi at sea can be fickle and slow. Packages cost £8 for one hour, £15 for a day, £25 for three days, £40 for a week and £90 for two weeks.
There are four self-service launderettes which are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They are located aft on Mariner Deck 7, midship on Promenade Deck 6 and Deck 2 and forward on Deck 1. Tokens for the washing machines are available to buy from reception and use of dryers and irons is free. A chargeable same-day or next-day laundry service is also available and items are collected from the cabin by the room steward.
The ship has a medical centre on Deck 3. It is open from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and for out-of-hours emergencies.
The Oceans Spa, open from 8 to 9 p.m., is located midship on Main Deck 4. Making the most of a relatively small space, it offers hairdressing, massage and beauty treatments, many featuring marine-based Phytomer products and the Ahava Dead Sea range. The hairdressing and spa menu ranges from waxing treatments to a one-hour South Pacific seashell therapy incorporating massage and ocean minerals. Other massages, suitable for women and men, can be booked for 30-minute, 45-minute or one-hour time slots. Other services include facials (including one for teens) and makeup. Various deals are promoted during the cruise.
Massages and treatments are also available at the Oceans Health Club on Bridge Deck 8, which is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Oceans Health Club has a decent-sized gym with aerobic machines and weights. Children under 14 can't use the gym and under 16s must be supervised by an adult. Aerobics classes are free and yoga and Pilates classes carry a supplement. Other services such as nutrition consultation and body composition analysis -- possibly not the best idea when surrounded by the never-ending culinary temptation of a cruise environment -- are also on offer for a fee. The club includes changing rooms and separate male and female saunas.
Spirit is a family-friendly ship and you are likely to find all ages onboard, particularly during school holidays and on shorter itineraries. Facilities for youngsters are tucked away at the back of Mariner Deck 7.
The Kidzone (3 to 11) is free of charge and features daily themed activities during the daytime, often split into two sessions for different ages. Evening events include PJ and Hawaiian parties, ending at 9 p.m. (3 to 8) and 11 p.m. (9 to 11).
Next door to Kidzone is Graffiti's, a chill-out area for tweens and teens, and a small video games arcade. Again, this carries no charge.