While the Carnival Spirit isn’t Carnival Cruises’ newest ship, with a few refurbishments (the last one in 2018), it still provides a fantastic cruise experience for families. A Spirit-class vessel, the Carnival Spirit provides guests with twelve decks of venues, which are easy to access in their well-laid-out design.
Initially, this vessel provided sailings in North America. Then, it repositioned to Australia and offered South Pacific itineraries from Brisbane. With cruising uncertainty in Australia, Carnival now offers Alaska and Mexican Riviera sailings in summer and Caribbean itineraries in winter.
In 2023, Carnival Cruises will reposition her back to Australia again. When she moves from North America to Australia and vice versa, cruise passengers can enjoy a Pacific Coast crossing at great prices.
I sailed on the Carnival Spirit during one of these crossings. While I didn’t complete the entire journey to Australia, I cruised the first leg, a 12-day cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii. So, this is my review of my 12-day repositioning cruise.
1. Good Deck Plan
With a capacity of almost 2,124 guests, Carnival has packed a lot into its mid-sized ship. I liked the ship’s design and found it easy to navigate from one area to another. Unlike the Carnival Glory ship, which has its galley in the ship’s middle, the deck flow is much better.
Some of the areas that I especially liked included hidden places not always found by guests. The Jungle Interior Promenade on either side of the theatre was a great place to read a book or enjoy some quiet time. I found a great hot tub rarely used (or located) by other cruise passengers in the spa.
2. It’s An Extra Fun Ship
While Carnival markets their line as having “fun ships,” the Spirit was way more fun than some of the other vessels. There was no end to dancing on the dining room tables and getting the guests to follow along in their silliness. In fact, I still remember most of the dining room getting up and dancing to YMCA.
The fun continues outside the dining room with the Lip Sync Battle, Love and Marriage show, and the popular Hasbro Game Show.
3. Unique Staterooms
Launched in 2001, the vessel doesn’t have the overly large suites or lavish staterooms found on newer ships. In fact, its largest cabin, the Grand Suite, is relatively small at 300 sq. feet.
Even though the rooms are dated, I enjoyed the larger space with plenty of storage. Carnival Spirit’s interior, outside, and balcony cabins measure 185 sq. feet, which is quite sizable by today’s standards.
With plenty of connecting staterooms, families can choose two rooms next to each other and enjoy the luxury of double the space.
Unique to the Spirit-class ships, the 4K cabin is described as an interior with a window offering an obstructed view. I booked one of these cabins, and in reality, it’s a Juliette balcony where you can’t step outside.
The rooms on deck 4 or the main deck, have a set of French doors that you can open. Since the lifeboats are positioned outside the rooms, you don’t have any views, but you can enjoy the fresh air, daylight and hear the ocean waves.
However, guests can find a few of these 4K cabins between the lifeboats, offering some ocean views. Staterooms 4122, 4123, 4140, 4141, 4148, 4149, 4196, 4197, and 4203 fall between the lifeboats. These cabins sell out fast, but I lucked out on booking 4149 after someone canceled their booking.
While I prefer to book a balcony simply for the fresh air, I could turn off the air conditioning in my 4K cabin and not have to pay the balcony price.
4. Great Outdoor Spaces
The Carnival Spirit has three pools on deck 9 or the Lido deck. The Sun Forward Pool and the Dome Main Pool are located back-to-back in the center of the deck. The Blue Iguana Tequila bar and Red Frog Rum bar sit between them.
There are plenty of loungers around the pools, and I never had to worry about finding an empty one. At the aft, the Serenity Pool is reserved for adults only.
The large Serenity area has its own bar and was always hopping with live entertainment. In fact, it was my favorite place to hang out on the ship, especially on sea days. The comfy loungers are a great place to read a book or relax.
Carnival Waterworks on deck 11 provides entertainment for hours for the little ones. Next to the Waterworks, two waterslides offer fun for children and adults alike. The yellow slide provides a calmer ride for the young ones.
However, the “Green Thunder” swirling slide whips guests out over the ocean at 65 km an hour. It’s the fastest slide at sea and promises to get your heart racing. I loved the sign underneath the slide that says “scare yourself silly.”
When I first saw the slide on embarkation day, I couldn’t wait to try it. And let me tell you, I was with the minority. The thought of the floor dropping away and having the person freefall down the slide at high-speed scared passengers away.
With cool days and a bit of wind, I had to wait until day four of my cruise for the Green Thunder to open. With only two other guests willing to try, I had multiple runs on the Green Thunder.
5. Plenty Of Food Choices
Guests aboard the Carnival Spirit have many options for meals. The Empire Restaurant, the main sit-down venue, offers complimentary food choices. The La Playa Grille and the Ol’ Fashioned Bbq on the higher decks offer buffet-style selections if you prefer something more casual.
As with most Carnival ships that have undergone an upgrade, this vessel features Guy’s Burger Joint on the Lido deck. While I don’t tend to eat burgers, Guy’s burgers are made to order and full of flavor. As someone with celiac, I was surprised I could order one gluten-free.
Other complimentary venues include the Blue Iguana Cantina, the Red Frog Pub, and pastries and sweet goods at the Fountain Café. Pizza and ice cream lovers can get pizza and soft-serve almost any time they want, and without a surcharge.
I ate most of my meals in the main dining room because it’s the safest place when cruising with multiple food allergies. My waiter was excellent and made recommendations every day.
He often brought things to the table that no one had ordered in an attempt to get everyone to experiment with flavors. I tried the frog legs, alligator, and escargot during that cruise.
You can choose from Bonsai Sushi Express, Nouveau Restaurant, and The Chef’s table for those who prefer specialty dining. Although the Chef’s Table comes with sticker shock, the meal is gratifying.
The Nouveau Steak House charges USD 38 for an appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert. The steaks were done to perfection, and the meal was well worth the surcharge.
6. Fantastic Entertainment
The entertainment never ends on a Carnival cruise, and being on the Spirit was no different. From the sail-away party to the deck party in Hawaii, I enjoyed it all. During my 12-day cruise, there were three formal or cruise elegant nights.
On the last night, guests could dress up or wear Hawaiian attire. After all, we were in Hawaii. Almost all passengers chose to follow the Aloha dress code, and it was nice to see the colorful clothing.
I attended most Playlist Production shows in the Pharaoh’s palace Lounge, and they did not disappoint. Afterward, I enjoyed the late-night comedy at the Punchliner Comedy Club, below the theatre. The comedian was so impressive that the venue filled up fast.
Around the ship, there were live bands, piano playing, strums from a guitar, and singers. The choice of music varied, so there was something for everyone’s tastes.
7. Many Venues
Outside of the restaurants, there are plenty of places to get a drink. Choices include the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Red Frog Rum Bar on deck 9.
Deck 2 has the Red Frog Pub, Skybox Sports Bar, Louis XIV Casino, Alchemy Bar, and Shanghai Piano Bar is one level up. The atrium, although not as spectacular as newer vessels was a great place to hang out.
The Dancin’ Dance Club keeps the party-goers dancing on decks 1 and 2. Check out the Cherry on the Top candy store on deck 3 if you have a sweet tooth.
Deck 12 or the aft sun deck features mini golf, which was rarely ever busy. Being an older ship, the Glory doesn’t have any of the characteristics of the more popular mega-ships. However, you get what you pay for, and those vessels command higher prices.
The Spa on deck 9 has all the usual; a good fitness center and a large hot tub. The hot tub was often empty and a great option to the busy ones outside. Guests can also use complimentary steam rooms and saunas.
Like all Carnival vessels, the Spirit has self-serve laundry rooms. While none of us likes to do laundry on vacation, they come in handy on long journeys. Also, I can pack less and not have to worry about having overweight luggage at the airport with the ability to do laundry.
8. Programs To Keep The Kids Busy
Carnival is a family-friendly cruise line and provides kids programs for different age groups. Camp Carnival offers simple games, art supplies, and scavenger hunts for children aged two to eleven.
For young teens (aged 12 to 14), Circle “C” offers more hands-on sports, video games, pizza parties, movie nights, and more group interaction.
Club 02 is more of a hang-out space for the older teens, aged 15 to 17. Here, they can chat, listen to music, or choose to play video games.
There are Dr. Seuss-themed events during the cruise, including the iconic breakfasts. Green eggs and ham, anyone? Children can take a Build-a-Bear workshop to make a special animal of their choice.
9. Exceptional Staff
The biggest plus on this cruise was the Carnival staff. While all cruise line staff are trained to be courteous and helpful, I felt many gave exceptional service.
As a Celiac, I have to watch what I eat. However, my waiters were always helpful and ensured my food never contained any allergens.
There were also a couple of photographers who were terrific at portrait pictures. While most cruise passengers shy away from photographers, I like to get at least one photo from each cruise.
One photographer did such an excellent job capturing my “best side,” I ended up going home with eight large prints.
Like most Carnival vessels, the Spirit dons a colorful décor. While the wild décor didn’t bother me, those tacky birds featured by the pools just didn’t fit the overall design.
She looks almost brand new with her recent refurbishment and new exterior hull color, to match that of the Mardi Gras. Let’s hope on the next upgrade, they refresh the outdated staterooms. I felt the Carnival Spirit has a great deck plan, making it easy to find venues.
I enjoyed the Carnival Spirit so much I later took a Mexican Riviera cruise on her sister ship, the Carnival Miracle. So, if you’re seeking a budget-friendly cruise that tones of fun, this “fun ship” delivers.
If you reside in North America, you have a chance to enjoy the Spirit before she repositions back to Australia again.
Happy travels ~ Karen
Wednesday 13th of July 2022
I went on the carnival spirit in 2019 was so excited to get an upgrade right underneath the night club thumping away until the early hours very dissapointing
Wednesday 13th of July 2022
If you're sensitive to noise, it's best to opt out of upgrades. A cruise line's idea of an upgrade is a higher deck but not necessarily in a good location.