Monday, September 01, 2014

Carnival Spirit cruise, August 2014 (Pt I)

This was my first cruise with Carnival and I knew very little about what to expect, so it was a little bit exciting discovering this new ship.

Like all new things, it took a bit of adjusting but, once done, I really enjoyed myself. Carnival revolve around the constant theme of 'Fun Ship' and this certainly prevails. They like to throw a party, whatever the excuse or occasion.

The cruise went from Sydney, Australia, to the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia - Noumea, Lifou and Mare (in that order). I'd done this same route on my Pacific Dawn cruise in February, 2012, so I knew a little of what to expect. At first I wasn't sure if I'd leave the ship (stay onboard and enjoy the relative quiet!) but I ended up getting off at Lifou and Mare, mainly to photograph and film the ship from afar.

(Top photo - Carnival Spirit moored at Mare)


Before I venture further...


Here's a few that may appear in the blog:

Fore - Near or toward the front of the ship
Aft - Near or toward the rear of the ship
Bow - The very front of the ship
Stern - The very back of the ship
Port - The left of the ship, facing towards the front
Starboard - The right of the ship, facing towards the front
Draft - Depth of water measured from the waterline to the bottom of the ship's hull
Bridge - The 'command centre' in the forward part of the ship
Gangway - The stairway or ramp connecting the ship to the shore

NOTE -I have discovered that this post runs slowly if viewed on Internet Explorer. It's best viewed on Google Chrome or Firefox (not as fast as Chrome).



1) If you intend using your credit card while you are away, tell your credit card provider that you are going overseas, so they don't think your credit card has been compromised and someone on a cruise holiday or in a foreign land has suddenly started making purchases. The last thing you want to deal with when you get home is a cancelled credit card and having to sort out all your direct debits etc when your bank sends you a new one. While it's good that credit card security works this way, it's a hassle you don't need.

2) Contact your mobile phone provider and have your phone switched to international call roaming. The costs are very high if you do make (and receive) calls but it's a security blanket should you need to use your phone in an emergency. IMPORTANT - turn off data roaming on your phone (or get your provider to do it for you). Even though you may not make calls while you are away, any data that is uploaded or downloaded (emails or app updates, for instance) will be charged at a far more expensive rate.

3) 'Dose up'. Being confined to a ship with several thousand people can be a breeding ground for germs and result in colds/flus (how many of us seem to always get a cold when we fly?). I'd suggest a course of vitamin C and/or echinacea in the lead up to your cruise. While these might not completely stop you from getting a cold/flu, they may help reduce the duration of anything you might get and, thus, give you more time to enjoy your cruise. And, for those of you who have heard of norovirus, there is nothing you can do ahead of time other than get into the habit of practising safe hygiene.

I'm getting closer to the nitty-gritty of the ship - just need to pass on some of the technical stuff...


Class & type: Spirit-class cruise ship
Tonnage: 85,900 GT
Length: 293.52 m (963 ft)
Beam: 32.31 m (106 ft)
Draft: 7.77 m (25.5 ft)
Decks: 12
Installed power: 62,370 kW (83,640 hp)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric
2 × ABB Azipods (17.6 MW, 23,600 hp each)
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h, 25 mph)
Capacity: 2,680 passengers
Crew: 961


My YouTube video showing Carnival Spirit in all her glory can be seen HERE.


The Balcony Stateroom (5195) was spacious and comfortable. There was plenty of hanging/storage space and I wasn't found wanting in any way. There is plenty of room under the bed and you could probably fit three or four suitcases under there. As you know, there's nothing worse than not enough storage space!

On that note, I usually try and pack 'less is more', taking into account that I will use the onboard washing service. I tried to squeeze everything into an overnight case, so I could take it on the plane with me and not have to worry about spending 'valuable' minutes collecting my bag from the baggage carousel.

After fretting about fitting everything into that confined space, I thought "Frrrt to that!" and upscaled to my trusty, albeit ageing, held-together-with-gaffer-tape backpack (I've had it since 1989) and took into account I had a 20-odd kg/40-odd lb check-in allowance on the plane. Who cares if I have too much on the ship - I'd rather have too many clothes than not enough.

Anyway, the point of this story is that I had more clothes than normal and wasn't found wanting for storage space. Of course, that might vary for some readers of this blog and don't leave a cranky comment because there wasn't space for your 25 pairs of shoes (I could be talking about a bloke!).

The stateroom had an adjoining room, hence the door at left. That doesn't mean the neighbour/s came
wandering through in their underwear - the door was well locked. The door was of a good
thickness, too, so I couldn't hear anyone on the other side (except for when 'bloke' sneezed).

There were no 'designer' bathroom goodies on offer but there were these.

My first lockable balcony door. And good to see the air-con switches off if
you decide to leave the door open.

The stateroom had a safe but...
 Instead of having a 'pin' number you set, you could only open the safe with a credit card or one of the
latest driver's licences i.e. something with a black magnetic strip. What's the point of this? The whole idea of having a safe is to be able to store your valuables i.e. credit card and driver's licence, in the safe. But you need to use one of them to open and shut the safe? Also, the whole point of having a Sail & Sign (talked about in the next section) is so that you don't have to carry anything else on your person. It was the most illogical safe I'd come across. I did use my Sail & Sign card, which worked, but I then came across a notice saying that using your Sail & Sign card could render the card useless.

The obligatory towel creation. A mixed and varied menagerie of animals appeared on the bed each night.

LtoR If you're wanting to sleep/relax, or have headed out into the day...

The TV channels weren't great but they weren't shocking either. Some channels dropped out when we were well out to sea, but that happens with all ships. I couldn't find a list of TV channels anywhere in the room and relied on a rough knowledge of the channels from flicking through them. Here's a rough guide to what was on offer, in no particular order:

Prime US
BBC World
Australia Network
ABC1, ABC 4 Kids & SBS ONE (all available close to Australia)
Movie Channel
Family Move Channel
Carnival Info Channel
Ship Position
Forward/Aft webcams

There was no sports channel/s but Australia Network showed live AFL matches and The Champions' Sports Bar on Deck 2 was there for sport junkies. The movie channels appeared to have a few movies on high rotation and a couple of the stations were American and had ads to match, which made for interesting viewing in itself.

You know you're a long way out to sea when this appears.


You are given your Sail & Sign Card when you check in at the port before boarding. Once onboard, your Sail & Sign Card acts as your room key and wallet (ship currency is Australian Dollars). Initially it feels odd leaving your room without your wallet and keys but this is something you get used to and begin to wish it was like this 'at home'. Bring a lanyard if you have one, or buy one when you get on board. 

Previously I've had to get the guest services desk to punch a hole my (equivalent) Sail & Sign Cards so I could attach it to the lanyard and wear it around my neck. However, this time, when I checked in and received my Sail & Sign Card, it already had a hole punched in it. If this is your first cruise, don't worry about feeling self-conscious wearing your Sail & Sign Card around your neck. Everyone does it, so you'll fit right in. Anyway, wearing it around your neck works well because Sail & Sign Cards have a habit of falling out of pockets, especially if you've been frequenting the bars, clubs and lounges! The end of my lanyard can be unclipped, which makes handing over my Sail & Sign Card for purchases much easier (this can be dangerous!).

Whatever you accumulate on your Sail & Sign Card can either be charged to your credit/debit card (card details given when you check in) or by using cash. If you choose cash, it is up to you to top up the card if/when you run out. Your itemised account is left at your cabin the morning of disembarkation and Sea Passes linked to credit cards can still be used if need be (very little is open the day you disembark) and charged after you leave the ship.

Gratuities - because Carnival Spirit is based in Australia, where tipping isn't a part of daily life, gratuities aren't expected or included. I had a look at the Carnival website and found THIS (the suite/stateroom attendant still received a little 'thank you').


Like all cruise ships, it seems, Carnival Spirit has a spectacular Atrium - one that extended from Deck 2 all the way to the top of the ship. One side of the Atrium had a bank of three glass elevators/lifts, while facing them for most of the way up the Atrium was a giant mural depicting what looked to be angel-like figures.

Admittedly, when I first saw the Atrium, I was a bit taken aback at the 'busy' design detail, which is highlighted in the bottom of these three photos, but I'll let you decided for yourselves. That said, the same design detail photographed well, especially at night.

Glass lifts to the left, mural to the right.

One of the three glass lifts in action. They were very popular.

In the first of these three Atrium photos, you can see a small semi-circular shape in the top middle
of the photo. That is the underside of the glass stairs you see here, situated at the top of the Atrium.
These glass stairs lead to Nouveau Restaurant.


Nouveau Restaurant

Noon - 2.30pm
5.30pm - 9.30pm

Normally I start with the dining options included in you fare. However, I couldn't pass up a segue like the glass stairs leading to Nouveau Restaurant in the above photo.

Nouveau Restaurant is located on Deck 10 overlooking the Atrium. It is the one specialty restaurant on board, meaning there is a cover charge.

It is open for 'long lunch' and dinner - Lunch is $30pp or $50pp with wine included to complement each course, while dinner is $40pp, wine not included.

I did both the long lunch and dinner (different days) and enjoyed them immensely. The food throughout the ship was consistently good, however it is on another level at Nouveau. I found the lunch to be marginally better but only because the serves appeared to be bigger and the view more spectacular (while there is ocean as far as the eye can see during the day, at night it's dark as far as the eye can see).

Nouveau is set in a spectacular space overlooking the Atrium. However this can also work against the location, as the sound of the live music echoing up from the Atrium lobby several decks below can somewhat reduce the ambience.

A sample menu can be seen HERE (this was my menu) and some examples of dinner dishes can be seen below.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom
Marinated with Virgin Olive Oil and Aged Balsamic Vinegar  

Maine Lobster Ravioli Garnished with Grilled Scampi 

Cheesecake with Hazelnut Biscuit 

The view through the glass stairs leading to Nouveau Restaurant, to the Spirit Lobby 
at the bottom of the Atrium eight decks below. If you've got a fear of heights, then you
can take a lift or walk up some not-so-scary internal stairs.

Other dining options you pay for...

Room Service

I didn't indulge in room service. Maybe I'm showing some maturity but, for once, I didn't have a 'recovery' day and stay in (recovery is such a nice term compared to hangover). Room service is often included in your fare and I have at least one breakfast on the balcony but didn't this time around. Why pay for food when you have perfectly good 'free' dining option elsewhere with the same view?

Here are the breakfast and 'rest of the day' menus...

Another 'non-inclusive' dining option was Freshies (below), located on the Pool Deck. I'm not sure how busy it was, as it was located right outside La Playa Grille. Once again, I didn't try this.

I didn't intentionally take this photo while there was no one there in order to show it was not very busy.
It was on my list of 'things to photograph' and I took this photo soon after it opened for the day.

Other items not included in your fare were snacks at the Fountain Cafe -

Cookies: $2.50
Cake: $4-$6/slice
$4 for one
$10 for three
$15 for six

DINING (included in your fare)

La Playa Grille (aka the buffet)

6am - Coffee and Danish
6.30am-10.30am - Breakfast
10.30am-11.45am - Late breakfast
Noon-3.30pm - Lunch
5.30pm-9pm - Dinner

The food was good and there was an ample selection on offer. The layout is one of those things that will appeal to you or won't. I was more in the latter. Most buffets I've encountered on ships have everything relatively centrally located. La Playa Grille was spread out - scattered almost. 

Imagine the size of the kitchen that has to serve several hundred (possibly even a thousand or more people) at a time. It's going to be big. This kitchen sat, out of sight, in the middle of La Playa Grille. On the outside four corners of this very large kitchen were serving areas, along with serving areas located in a couple of other locations. In short, it sometimes got confusing trying to remember what was where, because you couldn't see from one serving area to another. More than once I stopped and had to double back looking for what I was after. 

In the scheme of things this is a 'first world problem', but I wasn't the only one wandering about like a lost soul. No, I didn't ever go without but I sometimes ended up with some interesting combinations on my plate.

Not too many better breakfast views.

The tiny pies they had at lunch were fabulous, including mushroom, vegetable and tandoori chicken.
It was impossible to stop at one!

As for the selection of food? Here's some of what was on offer -

Breakfast (remained the same throughout)
Bacon (Aussie and stringy)
Sausages (skinless and not)
Eggs (various style), including Eggs Benedict
French toast
Omelette station
Cold meats and cheese

Lunch & Dinner (these were roughly the same, so will combine. The menu did change but this gives you an idea)
Savoury pies (photo above - had these numerous times and they were delicious!)
Beef stroganoff
Asian noodles (with e.g. chicken and vegetables)
Mixture of Indian curries
Cold meats and cheese
Mixture of salads
Roast of the day
French Fries
Deli/sandwiches made to order

Desserts (pastries for breakfast but basically remained mainly the same for lunch and dinner)
Panna Cotta

Juices - apple/orange/lemon squash/iced tea (these were from a machine but if the apple juice was any guide, they were all really good. Some machine apple juices have been carbonated but this was 'straight' apple juice)
Coffee (filtered, although there was a coffee stand where you could pay for 'real' coffee)
Hot chocolate

Every cruise I say 'no more pastries for breakfast' and 
every cruise my breakfast plate ends up looking like this.

This probably doesn't look as expansive as it was...and maybe I should have paid more attention
on day one of the cruise but I think I finally got the hang of the buffet on the final day :)

Pizza Pirate

Open 24 hours

The Pizza Pirate is located within the buffet but it is also its own entity. It is the one food outlet that is open 24 hours and there were a couple of late night raids from the resident of stateroom 5195.

The pizzas here are good. The choice of pizzas - funghi, margherita, quattro stagioni, pepperoni, or Hawaiian - are the only choices you get. There's no chance to 'make your own' - look at the choices on offer, step up to the counter and order. The times I were there (late night and otherwise) there was one bloke working - he took the orders, made the pizzas, cooked the pizzas and served the pizzas.

I'm not sure where the pirate aspect of Pizza Pirate came into play - there were no bandanas, cutlesses, wooden legs or parrots (stuffed or otherwise) to be seen. There weren't even any heavy rolling of 'rrrrrrrrr's'.

A gathering of late night visitors to Pizza Pirate.

One of the 'pirates' hard at work.

Empire Restaurant

Breakfast: 7.30am-9.30am
Lunch (sea days only): Noon-2.30pm
Dinner is broken into two seating -
Early: 5.30pm
Late: 7.45pm

Every ship has its main dining room and Carnival Spirit has the Empire Restaurant. Dinner is when Empire gets busy - very busy - and, if you haven't cruised before, you'll need to know these terms...

Assigned Seating - You choose a set time to have dinner each night and are assigned that table for the cruise, with the same dining companions.
Your Time Dining - You dine when and with whom you choose. It can be at a larger table with others, or, if there is just the two of you, then you can ask for a table for two (not always guaranteed). Your Time is about flexibility, so you don't have to dine in the Empire Restaurant if you don't want to.

On the subject of 'table for two', there appeared to be quite a few scattered around the dining room. I always choose Your Time and it can be fun landing on a table with a bunch of 'new friends' but there are times when you're tired or aren't feeling all that social, and table on your own is the way to go. The tables for two are always close together, so you can make small talk with your neighbours, but having those few inches between tables can also ensure a bit of solitude if you so desire.

When you enter the Empire Restaurant you are greeted by this lady (not sure who she is).
The dining room is on two decks, so the stairs lead to the downstairs section. 

I took this to show a little more of the detail in the chandelier. 

I am not one of these people who enjoys going for dinner to, for example, a Turkish restaurant, and having to endure the entertainment i.e. a belly dancer, halfway through the meal. I like eating uninterrupted.

So, when I heard there was a 'cabaret' each night in the main dining room, I screwed up my nose. It's a good thing I have a short memory and had forgotten this snippet of information when I sat down for dinner in the Empire Restaurant on the second night of the cruise, because, during the main course/dessert interlude, two flamenco-looking dancers hopped up on a couple of mini-podiums and started strutting their stuff in time to a pulsating beat. It was "s-h-h-h-h-ow time!"

The entertainment occurs every night and is a ton of fun, certainly adding to Carnival's Fun Ship reputation. The entertainment was provided by the very talented wait staff and diners were more than welcome to join in and stand up and clap, cheer and/or have a dance, either solo or with one another or other members of staff. The whole restaurant comes to a standstill when the show begins.

 It's s-h-h-h-h-ow time!
One of the so-called flamenco dancers struts his stuff on my first night in Empire.

On a more sedate level, a bit of crooning.
This bloke got up the night before and belted out a quite fabulous Jimmy Barnes impersonation, covering a couple of Cold Chisel songs.

And the food? Very good.

I dined there on several nights (I got hooked on the cabaret) and the menu was always varied. There is a 'Today' menu and an 'Every Day' menu you can choose from. As the names indicate, the Today menu has items particular to that day and the Every Day menu remains the same.

Examples from an Every Day dinner menu include:

Entree (starter) -
Caesar Salad
Diced Fresh Melons with Citrus and Mint

Main -
Grilled Salmon Fillet
Guinness Mince, Mushroom and Cheese Pie (I had this - delicious, photo below)

Sides -
Sauteed Green Beans
Chips, Mash or Roast Potatoes

Examples from a Today dinner menu include:

Entree (starter) -
Ahi Tuna Saland on Beetroot Carpaccio
Fire Roasted Chicken in Sesame Dressing

Main -
Chinese Broccoli and Crispy Pork
Turkey Piccata

Dessert (same for both menus) -
Creme Caramel
Chocolate Gateau

When you order wine by the glass it is poured from a small carafe.
This was even done in the bars around the ship.

Lunch in the Empire Restaurant consisted a Today menu only, examples from which included -

Entree (starter) -
Chilled Avocado Soup
California Roll

Main -
Mongolian Steak Salad
Spaghetti Zia Teresa

Creme Caramel
Chocolate Gateau

Prime Rib Roast au Jus 

Fettuccine with Shrimp in Mascarpone Sauce.

Steamed Mussels in a White Wine and Pernod Broth. 

Guinness Mince, Mushroom and Cheese Pie. 

Pork Steak with Corn, Chips, Coleslaw and Greens

Fresh Tropical Fruit Plate 

Orange Cream Eclair - Ice Cream, Cajeta Caramel Sauce

Caramelised Apples on Puff Pastry.

Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ

This might be hidden out of the way compared to the rest of the dining options on the ship but it's a well hidden gem and, it seems, a lot of people know this.

It can be found out in the open on Deck 10, wedged between two walls. The location gives the appearance Fat Jimmy's was an after-thought but, if the quality of what was on offer is a guide, then Fat Jimmy's was anything but an after-thought.

The menu at the bottom of the photos below gives you an idea of what to expect. I only ventured to 'Jimmy's' once and wished it had been more. The flavours are BBQ and they're fabulous!

Surprisingly, there wasn't a fee to eat at Jimmy's but maybe making the trek up there was payment enough. Jimmy's was different enough to warrant a fee.

Get a plate-load, find somewhere to sit and enjoy!

If you choose, you can dine at tables in the sunshine on the deck on either side of Fat Jimmy's.
That's the tail end of the queue for food at the top of the photo. The queue was often a lot longer than this.

I look at this and think the photo doesn't do justice to the flavours on the plate.

Excuse the skewiff menu - I was too lazy to photograph it front on, so it was nicely aligned.

Off the Grille

You're in the mood for something like burger, fries, onion rings and/or chicken schnitzel for lunch/dinner?

Then Off the Grille is for you. You'll find it outside La Playa Grille on the Pool Deck, opposite Freshies (which is on the other side of that colourful wall in the photo below).

The menu is short and sweet -

Vegetarian burgers
Chicken schnitzel
Cooked onions
Onion rings
French fries
Cooked onions
Salads e.g. potato, green
Sliced beetroot

The lunchtime queue at Off the Grille was often quite long.
If you're on the Pool Deck, it saves you going all the way inside.

Ice cream

While I'm in the vicinity of Off the Grille, if you look at the above photo, you can see an illuminated sign in the darkened area at the back of the queue. That is where you can get self-serve ice cream which you can have in either a cone or a cup. There is also one, exactly the same, next to Freshies.

Open 24hrs.

Taste Bar

This is a bit like Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ in that it's kinda out of the way. However, instead of being on top of the ship, it's at the other end down on Deck 2, between Champions' Sports Bar, Club Cool and the lounge area where the Trivia is held each day.

As the name might suggest, Taste Bar is all about getting a taste of what's on offer in the various restaurants around the ship. It's not a sit-down dining experience, so don't get dressed up for a night out at Taste Bar. Think of it as a drive-thru window, cruise ship style.

You could probably make a meal out of the Taste Bar but it would mean lots of visits. Think tapas and then knock the serve down a size or two. This is somewhere you go to get the dinner juices flowing.

Hours: 5pm - 8pm (seas days only).

Open for business - it's not big but does a roaring trade. The lounge (Trivia) area is directly behind
where I am standing to take the photo and those Trivia combatants work up an appetite!

The hordes descend. 

As the name suggests, the serves aren't big.


You're never far from being able to buy a drink on a cruise ship and Carnival Spirit is no different. Cruises are not only great for foodies, they're good...very good...excellent for those who like a wee bevvy, too!

Drinks come in all shapes and sizes on Carnival Spirit and whatever your tipple might be, you're covered. The range on offer mightn't be as extensive as what you find on land but there's something there for everyone.

You're all asking 'drinks packages?'

In short, there are no drinks packages on Carnival Spirit. You have to pay as you go.

Drinks prices aren't as low as other cruise ships I've been on and here is the price list that is prevalent around the ship:

The wine list above was the wine list available throughout the ship, including Empire Restaurant (oops! They ran out of Merlot). I did hear you could get a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for around $120 but I'm not sure where that was - possibly Nouveau Restaurant.

There are bars and places to buy drinks everywhere - you have a choice of 16 bars and lounges - so it's unlikely you'll go thirsty.

Opening - 9am for most, if not all.
Closing -  they're all open til late.

Some of the bars around the ship include...

The Lobby Bar at the bottom of the Atrium. 

The Lobby Bar looking back the other way, from the lifts. 

The Champions' Bar - Carnival Spirit's sports bar.
They had a couple of other sport channels but, the fact we were in the middle of the ocean and out of range
quite a lot of the time meant they couldn't show live sport all the time. They did get Australia Network,
which showed AFL matches live and they had another channel that appeared to show live NRL matches.

Shanghai Piano Bar.
The piano player (never got her name) was very funny in a quirky way. It was always an enjoyable
time sitting listening to her interact with the passengers as she played. 

The Artists' Lobby. Lovely ambience. 

The bar at Serenity, the adults only area aft of the ship. 

Watching the sunset from the Serenity bar.

The Casino Bar.
One of the things I liked about Carnival Spirit was the musician (there was a couple
of guitarists on board) often sat behind the bar. It made sitting at the bar all the more interesting.

Hurricane Wave cocktail (found only on Carnival Cruise Lines ships).

Alternatively, if you fancy a wee tipple in your stateroom, there is a mini bar, the price list of which mirror the rest of the ship:

One thing which I hadn't seen on other ships was the water dispenser at the end of the bar. Filling water bottles isn't allowed due to the fact this is one way in which norovirus can spread.

Coffee - Fountain Cafe

Hours: 7am - midnight

There is filtered coffee available but many of you coffee connoisseurs won't be impressed with this. If you want a 'real' coffee, as it seems most Aussies do, then you need to head for Fountain Cafe - so called because it is located on Deck 2 next to an internal water feature that is the closest thing to a fountain on the ship.

There is also another Fountain Cafe in La Playa Grille, hours 7am - 4.30pm.

 Fountain Cafe. The staircase just in frame at left are the stairs that come down around
the water feature that doubles as the fountain, as seen in the photo below.


Short Black - $2.95
Double Short Black - $3.50
Macchiato - $2.95
Long Black - $3.25

Latte - $3.45/$3.75 (Tall/Grande)
Chai Latte - $3.45/$3.75
Cappuccino - $3.45/$3.75
Flat White - $3.45/$3.75
Cafe Mocha - $3.65/$3.95

Iced Coffee
Iced Cafe Latte - $3.75
Iced Cappuccino - $3.75
Iced Cafe Mocha - $3.95

Adult Coffees
Spirited Short Black - Baileys/Bundaberg Rum
Caribbean Mochachino - Vanilla Rum/Creme de Cacao
Mexican Down Under - Flat White with Patron XO Cafe (tequila)
Cappuccino de Amore - Amaretto and Kahlua

Milkshakes (strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, neapolitan, black & white) - $4.50

Sweet nibbles
Cookies: $2.50
Cake: $4-$6/slice
$4 for one
$10 for three
$15 for six

Quite a lovely water feature/fountain that cascades down the illuminated central segment
into the pool that can just be seen either side and beneath the staircase. 

*     *     *     *     *

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*     *     *     *     *


If you've got a Hurricane Wave (or any other drink) in hand and are looking for something to do, then there are plenty of entertainment options on board Carnival Spirit. They'd hate for you to get bored, after all!

On sea days, especially, there is plenty to do and you can usually choose from over 70 options throughout the day, starting at 7am and going through to midnight and beyond.

The choice is wide and varied and you can take part in, among other things ($ entails a fee), line dancing classes, ping pong tournaments, wine tasting ($), trivia (all sorts of subjects), yoga classes ($), art auctions, hairy chest contests and much more. There are movies to watch during the day, production shows and comedians to watch each evening, and entertainment in most bars around the ship. You can burn off those calories in the fitness centre, go for a jog, play mini golf, shoot some hoops, or indulge in some full on pampering in the Spa ($).

Or, if none of these appeal, take your book, find a comfy seat in a quiet corner and read (napping is allowed).

A photo says a thousand words, so enough writing for now...

The 1,100 seat Pharaoh's Palace, the main theatre where the nightly production show is held.

Shows such as 'The Big Easy: The New Orleans Show'.

Pharaoh's is also used for other events...such as BINGO!

The final of the Melbourne Mug (the cruise version of the Melbourne Cup)

NOTE - One thing to watch out for in Pharaoh's Palace is where you view a show from. I watched a couple of shows from the back of the downstairs section of the theatre and, at times, had to bend down to see some of what was happening on stage, as the top half of the stage was obscured by the balcony/level 2 of Pharaoh's Palace. This composite photo best explains what I am talking about...

Top - what I could see.
Bottom - what was on stage.

Not everything happens indoors - If chess is your thing, then head for the Sun Forward Pool (discussed soon).

Back indoors to a cooking class (everyone gets a taste, too).

The Versailles Lounge (under Pharaoh's Palace) shows, among other things, movies during the day
and is home to the Punchliner Comedy Club at night.

Break the course record at mini-golf.

Got the cheque book (Sail & Sign Card) out and buy some art?

On the subject of art, there is plenty of art filling the public space around Carnival Spirit.
A walk around the ship purveying the art on display is also a nice way to keep fit.

The Techno Arcade can be found on Deck 4, fore. Getting there, however, involves walking
as far fore as you can on Deck 5 then going down some stairs. It's really close to Camp Carnival,
Circle C and O2, so is probably used by kids/youths more than older passengers. 

Anyone a pool shark?

Grab a book at the Chippendale Library. There are two library hours on sea days and one on port days.

Speaking of reading, will you be looking for a good book to read on your next cruise? If so, then how about one - or more - of my three books? Have a look and see which you might like., pong, ping, pong, ping, pong, ping, pong...

There are plenty of quiet corners to read...

...or even just sit and watch the ocean (you'd be amazed how relaxing it is).

Monarch's - if you fancy a game of cards (non-gambling) or a board game.

Club Cool - very much a live music venue but also the centre of the Carnival Spirit universe if karaoke is your thing.

Dance the night away at Dancin' Dance Club (aka disco).

 After you've danced the night away, you can always get up bright and early
and watch - photograph - the sunrise.

***Follow me on SOCIAL MEDIA for more fun, interesting cruise news and information.

The Louis XIV casino

While on the subject of Entertainment, let's not forget about those who like the roll of the dice, the spin of the wheel, the fall of the cards. In case you're still not sure what all this means, this might help...

The Louis XIV casino is the best laid out cruise ship casino I've come across. Other casinos I've encountered have been in enclosed, windowless parts of the ship, and you feel like you're being directed into the casino, or at least you're entering the casino.

Comparatively, the Louis XIV casino is spread out and, while you walk through the casino as you make your way along Deck 2, the first time I walked through the casino, I didn't realise I was in the casino.

Also, on one side there are windows, which makes a big difference. And the casino bar doesn't feel like it's part of the casino. I often had a drink there because it is a nice space in its own right.

It was hard to portray this in one image but the photo below is as close as I could get to showing the spread out nature of the area. The tables in the foreground are part of the Casino Bar, while the space between the gaming tables (with the high chairs) and the pokies (slot machines) is the thouroughfare along which you walk as you make your way through the ship. The photo above is just out of frame on the right in the photo below.

This is the virtual gaming wall (with, among other things, virtual horse racing) in the Casino Bar next to
where it leads into The Champions' Bar. 

POOL DECK/WATER PARK (Carnival WaterWorks)

For many people, cruises are all about chilling out by the pool and catching some rays, and Carnival Spirit has three pool areas where you can while away the day. I'll get to those in a minute.

First, I need to deal with something Carnival Spirit prides itself on. It's green, it's wet and it lasts three seconds...


Green Thunder begins with a climb up several dozen stairs. If you're not good with heights, the climb alone might be scarier than what awaits at the top. If/when you make it to the top, the view back across the ship is quite spectacular...if the adrenalin rush allows you to remember it!

The clear perspex chamber opens and you step onto a small green platform (everything is green). You remain standing in the chamber and lie back into water streaming down the tube from above you. You are instructed to cross your feet and cross your arms across your chest. The chamber is closed and a rather ominous 3..2..1 countdown begins before the floor drops away from under you.


That sudden moment of being released into watery thin air is exhilarating, to say the least. The journey is quick - three seconds - and that first trip down the green tube is a blur. Water invariably shoots up your nose and, by the time you've regained any form of your senses, you're hurtling out the other end with no idea of what just happened. It's an adrenalin-fuelled attack on every sense you possess and, despite not knowing what just happened, you certainly feel alive.

I did it the one time but should have done it several more. I spent a lot of time photographing and filming Green Thunder (I think the attendants thought I was shooting a feature film) and just about everyone leapt out at the and of their three-second journey and rang straight back up and did it all over again. Sure, a lot of them were probably adrenalin junkies but you also need to do it more than once to learn to savour the experience and be able to take it all in. Well, as best you can.

Once you drop, it's a blur until you reach the end (at right of photo). 

An added dose of wetness to slow you down at the end.

For a bit of added excitement/thrill, you actually speed out over the edge of the ship.
Of course, when you are speeding over the edge of the ship, you don't know where you are. 

If something a little more sedate is your cup of tea, there's the Twister...

Or, if the kids will let you, the Splash Zone...

If you want a break between your daredevil antics on Green Thunder, then you can recline comfortably around one of the pools elsewhere on the ship - one is out in the open, one is under a retractable glass roof and one is in the adults only area at the stern.

In all three places there are plenty of lounges in and out of the sun where you can relax and meet with friends, watch the passing parade or just plain relax, not to mention their proximity to food and drink. You really don't have to move too far once you've settled.

Photo time...

Starting at the stern, there is Serenity, the adults only area.
Kids are fun but sometimes it's nice to have a break. 

If you want to spice up your relaxing day, run up and give yourself a thrill on Green Thunder. 

If hammocks are you thing, then swing away in the breeze (there's always a breeze).
I lolled about in one of these hammocks one day but there was a speaker in close proximity that,
while playing the sort of music I enjoy listening to, added little to the serenity of Serenity.

Lounges surround the Serenity pool. Out of frame to the right is the bar.

The Dome Main Pool. 

There is a stage at one end of the Dome Main Pool but it wasn't needed for the Hairy Chest Contest. 

The Sun Forward Pool. There are tables and chairs under cover on either side, lounges and, at the far
end of the pool, a bar on each side.

Watching P&O's Pacific Pearl cruise past from one of the under cover tables next to the Sun Forward Pool.

Towel creations aren't just for your room.


Some people i.e. me, are happy to just eat, drink and be merry on a cruise, whereas others like to burn off their on board indulgences. Or they're just gym-junkies. I prefer to embark on a pre-cruise diet so I can indulge once on board.

Either way, Carnival Spirit has a fitness centre (gym) where you can work out for whatever reason - and it's quite a groovy one, situated on two levels and with a large spa pool in the middle. It looks out over the bow of the ship, so you have a spectacular view as you sweat away. It is quite a well stocked fitness centre, with all the necessary equipment you'd expect.

Gym equipment aside, there is a large area within the Fitness Centre for the likes of stretching, yoga and pilates classes (both for a fee).

Hours: 6am - 10pm

There are lots of other ways to keep fit during the cruise - walking and jogging tracks, basketball court, doing laps of the pool (early morning before the crowds descend). On our cruise was Shannan Ponton from The Biggest Loser, who conducted a couple of boot camps that were well attended. By 'well attended', I mean somewhere between 500-600 people.

I'll get to the pampering part in a second. First, some fitness-type photos...

The two-level fitness centre overlooks the spa pool. 

The view straight ahead looks out over the bow of the ship. 

Deck 10 is referred to as the Walking Track but jogging is acceptable and most walkers/joggers are out
in the early hours of the day, when no one else is around. One lap is equal to 450 metres (495 yards).

Deck 10 living up to its name - the Walking Track.

The nice thing about going for a walk is you never know what you'll see.
Even some distance out to sea, these sea birds (this was one of around half a dozen)
flew around and alongside the ship, never landing, for quite some distance.

 On Deck 11 you will find the purpose-built jogging track. One lap equals 110 metres (120 yards)

Deck 11 is also home to the basketball court (and the mini-golf course).

Hundreds take part in a boot camp at sea session held by Shannan Ponton. 

 Shannan leads the way.

See that blur at the top of the photo? That's someone using the
stairs that run between every deck of the ship. Sure, there are lifts,
but you can feasibly climb and descend several hundred steps each day, a really
subtle way of burning a few calories and keeping a little/lot in shape.
Every little bit helps.

Spa Carnival i.e. pampering

Once you've sweated it up a bit and had a shower, then comes the pampering.

Spa Carnival, which includes the Salon, offers all sorts of services. I always indulge in a massage and usually do this on a port day, when it is relatively quiet because most of the passengers are ashore on a tour of some sort and the Spa, in an effort to keep business ticking over, has 'Port Day Specials'.

I celebrated my birthday on this cruise - which fell on a port day - and found this as good an excuse as any to book a hot stone massage. The deal they were offering was a 75 minutes massage ($215) for the price of a 50 minute massage ($164).

I jumped at this and it was pretty fabulous (is there a more technical way to describe a massage?). One good thing about it was the Spa only charged a 5% gratuity on top of the massage cost. Most, in fact all, spas I've been to on other ships charge 15%.

I discovered the steam room only a couple of cruises ago and have been a major fan of this part of the spa ever since. The only downside this time around was the steam room and sauna were 'on the blink' and only working to maximum capacity one time out of the four times I visited.

Okay, photo time...

Spa Carnival relaxation room, which leads through to the spa seen in the Fitness Centre photo,
and the Fitness Centre itself.

The sauna. 

The steam room. Unfortunately this was how it looked on three out of the four times I visited,
when it was meant to be fully working. 

One of the many treatment rooms. 

Change area with towels and lockers. I felt comfortable enough leaving my belongings - shirt, shorts,
Sail & Sign card, and flip-flops - on and under the seat.

The Salon. 

Here are the prices for the Spa and Salon:

Last, but not least, something for the blokes...


Everyone on a cruise needs a holiday and that includes the younger members of the family. Cruise ships have discovered this over the decades and now cater for everyone on board. I cruised as a young child - too young to remember much about it (I'm talking circa 1972) - and don't remember what, if any child 'facilities' there were. I can almost guarantee they were nowhere near what is available now.

Children/youths today are far more discernible and, if things aren't up to scratch, it's just not on!

As always, as soon as I boarded in Sydney I made a beeline for the kids areas in order to get all the photos and footage I could while there were no kids/youths there. I was impressed by what I saw.

NOTE - As far as safety and security of your children are concerned, the parents/guardian of children aged 2-8 must specify which adult over the age of 18 are authorised to sign in/out the child. Children aged 9-11 are free to sign themselves in/out of Camp Carnival as they choose. Parents/guardians who don't want their children to sign themselves out are required to sign them in/out of Camp Carnival events.

***Babysitting is available for for children aged between 12 months to 11 years each evening, from 10pm to 3am fort an additional fee.

*     *     *     *     *

The kids/youth area is quite large and is split into three areas:

Camp Carnival for the 2-5, 6-8 and 9-11 age groups.

This comprises two large rooms, in which the age groups have their own areas. Not all activities are contained to Club Carnival and many are held throughout the ship. I wandered into the nightclub one morning for a look and it was full of kids. At lunchtime areas of La Playa Grille were cordoned off for Camp Carnival kids.

Circle C for 12-14yo.

Club O2 for 15-17yo.

Close to Camp Carnival, Circle C and O2 is the Techno Arcade. I daresay it's used more by kids/youths than older passengers (even though the games are very much 'old school').

All age groups have their own 'Cruise Activity Schedule', outlining the list of activities for each day of the cruise. Below are an example for each age group, all from the ship's second day at sea...

2-5 age group 

 6-8 age group

9-11 age group 

12-14 age group 

 15-17 age group


Finding out what is happening around the ship is integral to the success of a cruise and there are many ways to get the message across. The main one is the daily newsletter which, like the buffet and main dining room (to name two), is a staple of every cruise ship.

There is the Times of London, the Times of India and Carnival Spirit has the FunTimes, which is not quite as indepth as the other two when it comes to world events but, when it comes to the goings on around Carnival Spirit, it's a world beater!

Each night a copy of FunTimes is left in your room by your stateroom attendant and in it you will find all that is happening around the ship the following day.

Every cruise ship newsletter has a chronological order of the day's events and the FunTimes 'order of events' (photo below) was on a narrow sheet of paper attached by a perforated edge, so you could tear it off and slip it in your pocket. This is just a small thing but it is a fabulous idea and saves you taking the whole newsletter (even though the FunTimes is not huge - two pages that open out).

The FunTimes sometimes contains a flyer advertising e.g the specials happening in the Carnival Spa or in one of the Fun Shops.

Finding your way around the ship always takes a day or two, or the entire cruise. To help, you will find a handy, pocket sized fold out map of the ship showing where everything is.

If you forget your pocket map and find yourself wandering the ship looking for the pool, or your favourite bar, then similar maps but MUCH bigger are located next to all the lifts and in various other locations, with a big 'You Are Here' on them, so you know where you are in relation to everything.


If you're missing your Facebook friends or are needing a general Internet fix, then fret not - there is an Internet Cafe on board you can access 24/7. There's even WiFi, should you need it, although the ship is in the middle of the ocean, so connectivity might be a tad slower than what you're used to.

This was the first cruise where I wasn't tempted to jump online and check emails etc, and it felt great losing contact with the world for eight days.

Where's the Internet Cafe? It and the Chippendale Library are the one and the same.


Pay as you go - 75c/minute
45 mins for $29 (64c/minute)
120 mins for $59 (49c/minute)
240 mins for $89 (37c/minute)
480 mins for $159 (33c/minute)

The Internet Cafe houses half a dozen computers.

Phone calls
If you're missing your loved ones, or just feel like bragging to someone how good a time you're having on your CRUISE (!!!), then you can ring them from your stateroom phone for $1.99/minute.

Behind the scenes tour
You can do one for $95pp and it's very popular, so book ASAP after boarding, as numbers are limited.


The 'Fun shops' line the 'Fashion Boulevard' and all were well presented and looked inviting. I know it's what is in the stores that counts but first impressions are always good.

The shops had all your usual fare - duty free booze (whisky, bourbon, gin, vodka and more), cigarettes (in bulk), jewellery, watches, handbags, cosmetics and more. Also present was the 'ship' store with all sorts of things - clothes, coffee mugs, fridge magnets, key rings etc - with the Carnival brand on them.

It's becoming a tradition of mine to get a coffee mug and a couple of fridge magnets (one for my downstairs neighbour who brings in my mail etc), so I got these and a bottle of whisky. In fact, the selection of spirits available was quite good compared to other ships I've been on and it's the first time I've bought whisky on a ship. I usually don't spend much time in the shops but it was an indication of these that I spent some time wandering through having a look.

 The Fashion Boulevard.

Towards the end of the cruise, especially, there are some great deals to be had, which are
brought to your attention in the FunTimes.


When I headed off for my first cruise, on Radiance of the Seas, I over-packed and thought I was bad for doing so. On subsequent cruises I tried packing only enough to get by, often by the skin of my teeth - even to the point where I could fit it all into an overnight bag that could be carried onto a plane. I factored in I would/could use the laundry service to 'recycle' clothes and wore it as a badge of honour if I could get by with as little clothes as possible.

Then, on my Celebrity Solstice cruise, I didn't pack enough warm clothes. I didn't spend the cruise sitting in a corner of the stateroom shivering but suffered the consequences nonetheless. This time around I started to pack 'less is more', then ran out of room and thought to myself 'why?' I had around 20kg of checked-in luggage to play with on the flight to Sydney. I might as well fill my bag and, if I don't wear everything I take, then the cruising Gods aren't going to think any less of me.

About now there is usually a list of clothes I packed, or at least a discussion about what I took. This time around, the theme is going to be 'take what you want'. If you're flying, fill your bags (leave a bit of room for shopping 'excess') and have a great time!

Pack what you want (but leave room for shopping you pick up along the way).

You're now on board and want to do some laundry. You have two options -

On board laundry service. 

You can either get a bag wash which entails filling a bag (left in your stateroom), filling out a form which you leave in the bag and either leaving the bag in your stateroom or dropping it off to your stateroom attendant. There is a fixed rate per bag. I can't remember the exact normal rate - around $20-$24 - but I took advantage of one of their special rates that was around $18.

The service was super quick, too. I've had to wait 1-2 days on some other cruise lines when I've taken advantage of their 'bag of washing specials' but both times I got bags done on Carnival Spirit I had them back that day.

If you don't have a bag load, here is the price list...

Guest laundry

There are some of you who love doing your own laundry, even when on a cruise (I know you're out there - I've met several of you!).

In that case, you'll be relieved to know there are several guest laundries scattered around the ship. They can be found on Decks 1, 4, 5, 6 & 7.

The one I inspected had two washers and three dryers (don't ask me for specs). The wash cycle takes 40 minutes and the drying cycle 45 minutes. Detergent costs $1.50 and there was one iron and one ironing board.

Wash away!


Every cruise ship on the high seas has its own band of merry photographers, whose job it is to photograph you at every stage of your cruise, on and off the ship.

Carnival Spirit is no different, so it goes without saying you will be photographed many times throughout your cruise. The big occasion for photographers and passengers alike is the formal night - Carnival Spirit refer to it as Elegant Night - that will occur at least one time on your cruise. This is where everyone slaps on the glad rags and parades about the ship. It's a great chance for everyone to glam up after wearing their swimmers all day.

It's also a great time for the photographers and they spend the afternoon setting up backdrops and studio flashes around the ship (Atrium mainly), so they can capture you at your best. 

The photographers hard at work on Elegant Night.

Even the stairs get a work out.

All the photos that are taken of you aren't included in your fare. The 'photography department' on cruise ships are separate to the cruise line and, as a result, a bit secretive, so it can be hard getting a price list. However, I did sneak a peek at one or two:

5x7in (12.5x17.5cm) - $14.99 each
6x9in (15x22.5cm) - $17.99 each
8x10in (20x25cm) - $29.99 each

I couldn't see anything stating you get a discount/deal for buying more than one print but I'm 99.9% sure this is the case. It has been with every other cruise ship I've been on.

You can also get photo canvas' made and I saw two prices:

16x20in (40x50cm) - $79.99 each
20x30in (50x75cm) - $99.99 each

Every photo taken throughout the cruise can be viewed in the Photo Gallery on Deck 3, overlooking the Atrium. The photographic staff are on hand to assist you from 9am - 10pm.

The Photo Gallery, top, all the photos taken are displayed. There is a similar set up on the
opposite side of the Atrium. Below that the photographers wait for business on another Elegant Night.

One of the great 'sports' on every cruise is wandering through the Photo Gallery looking at
all the photos that didn't quite work out (half-blinking is NEVER a good look), so these bins
have been thoughtfully provided for whoever didn't think their photo isn't up to scratch.
All the unsold photos get binned (recycled?) anyway, so if you're not going to buy it,
then help out the photo staff by binning it yourself.

*     *     *     *     *

Before I round off this review/overview of Carnival Spirit, here are a few more photos of the ship at the various ports-of-call we visited. The ports-of-call post can be seen HERE.

These great cruise photos - and more - can be seen at the Travel With Giulio Instagram account HERE.

Starting in Sydney...fellow passengers make their way to Carnival Spirit.

Mare on a Sunday morning. 


 Enjoying the view from on high.


If you're wondering what the tendering process involves, the orange boats are tenders, which are kept on
the ship. When the ship arrives at a port-of-call where it has to moor offshore, like here in Lifou, the
tenders run between the ship and shore the entire time the ship is moored there.

The view of Carnival Spirit from one of the tenders while she is moored off Mare.

The view of Carnival Spirit from the train platform at Circular Quay after it was all over.
The end of any cruise is a sad time, so I didn't enjoy taking this photo.

*     *     *     *     *

I hope you enjoyed my cruise on Carnival Spirit. If you have any comments or queries, please email me at

Bon voyage!


To view the ports pf call - Noumea, Lifou and Mare - see HERE.

See and read about more of my cruise experiences/reviews.

Love photos of cruise ships? Have a look at my 'Ship Spotting' photo gallery.

If you like what you have seen here, follow me on SOCIAL MEDIA for more fun, interesting cruise news and information.

All photos, text and video by Giulio Saggin
© Use of text, photos and video must be via written permission


Anonymous said...

FABULOUS review with very detailed information. Thankyou!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, thanks for sharing. We leave next week. Can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Than you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to document your review.

Anonymous said...

Thank u thank u best ever report...amazing luved it...

Gillian Bailey said...

We went on the cruise before you on 1 August 2014. Love your review. We have some friends who want to go on the Spirit next month so I have told them they must read your review as it is just informative and well written and your pics are fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!! So pleased I found your reviews. Very informative and super photos. Really appreciate you documenting this information. Thank you so much!

Giulio Saggin said...

Hi Anonymous, Thanks for getting in touch and letting me know how much you liked my review/s (and a wee apology for the delayed reply).
Happy cruising!

Giulio Saggin said...

Hi Gillian,
Thanks for taking the time to get in touch and I'm glad you loved my review. I, in turn, love being able to share my cruise experiences and photos.

Anonymous said...

Hi Giulio, Thoroughly enjoyed your review of carnival, very informative. Could you please answer this question for me? How long did it take to get off the ship when back in Sydney? Thanking you, Anastasia.

Anonymous said...

Have just spent an hour reading through your review, brilliant!!! I now have a clear idea of what to expect for my first ever cruise. Just one question, what was the weather like when you were on the cruise?? We are travelling on the Spirit in July. Cheers!

lazza said...

I just booked the Carnival Spirit last night and this post has answered pretty much EVERY question I had. Can't wait for my first cruise in October!

Thanks for the detailed information.

Stacey Brown said...

We leave on the spirit in three weeks. We are first time cruisers and after reading your post I'm even more excited! Great information and the level of detail was really helpful. Thank you.

John Dearing said...

We are doing the Sydney cruise to nowhere next weekend , you page is brilliant, I have been with other cruise lines do this will be fun


Amber said...

Thank you. That was so thorough. I really appreciated all the details.

DHC said...

Awesome info thank you

Giulio Saggin said...

Hi Everyone,
Apologies for the late replies to your messages. Firstly, thanks for your lovely words - they are greatly appreciated.
Anonymous and Anonymous - this is no doubt coming way too late but the weather was fine on the cruise, so I hope it was the same for you. And getting off every ship I've been on has always been a rather quick affair and, from memory, it was the same with Carnival Spirit. I hope this was the case for you.
As for everyone else, I hope you had wonderful cruises and have been on, or booked another, since you posted.
I've been out of the cruising scene for a couple of years and am hoping to get back into it in 2017!