The original Spirit; our favorite Carnival ships for its smaller size but modern decor for cozy atmosphere and top-notch service
Best For People Who Want
a modern non mega-cruise ship with high energy and a wide assortment of activities; a budget/mid-priced range; spacious spa and fitness facilities, plenty of activities for children; balcony cabins.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Should Be Avoided by People Who Want: A quite vacation way from large crowds and children; a more subdued atmosphere.
The Spirit-class (add sister ships Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle) offer the best staterooms, food, service and FUN at value prices. They are some of the most well-designed ships in the industry, easy to navigate with good crowd flow and lovely cabins with everything right where it is supposed to be. They were the first to come out with the amazing "turned on its head" interior that makes it possible to put all the public rooms together down below and fill the upper decks with an abundance of balcony cabins, fully 80% of all outside cabins, making the outside the ship look more like a hotel than a cruise ship. The decoration on these ships is so state of the art that the fact that the entire vessel actually moves on water becomes ancillary to the experience at hand, which is just enjoying your vacation. The ship features several firsts for Carnival, from a wedding chapel to a supper club located high in the funnel and a dance club tucked away literally on deck one. These
Carnival Spirit features public rooms with maple, marble and bronze highlights as the unifying theme. The irrepressible Joe Farcus here attempts art nouveau, combining shiny brass with French-inspired details such as carved wooden banisters and marble floors. But don't imagine that Carnival's zany designer has stuck to just one set design scheme. There are also Gothic (disco), Chinese (Shanghai Bar), Egyptian (show lounge), and Art Deco (Artists Lobby) areas. What ties them all together is the ship's energetic atmosphere.
Frescos covering the walls of the Spirit's Atrium to the top of the ceiling nine decks high greet passengers as they arrive on Deck 2, the Promenade. At the base of this spectacular entrance is a bar featuring a pianist or string trio playing relaxing music. The Shore Excursions and Purser's desks are also on this deck. The lovely Versailles Lounge is located on Deck 1. Most of the action on the ship is on Decks 2 and 3 where the shops, main dining room, lounges, and casino are located. The shops offer perfume, jewelry, and $10 bargains; all duty-free.
The piano bar features Chinese- inspired décor while the wedding chapel has beautiful wood paneling and frescos with angels. You can digitally alter your own photographs at the immense photo gallery. Four glass elevators take you to the Lido Deck (number 9), which features the ship's spa, pools, and fine dining, including alternative options, along with the glass staircase to the Nouveau Supper Club on deck 10. This swank restaurant requires jackets and reservations to enjoy their famous stone crabs from Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant and prime beef.
The Pharaohs Palace, featuring King Tut-inspired decor, is Spirit's primary showroom, and is located on Decks 2, 3, and 4. Also on Deck 4 is the arcade, while the Children's Funhouse is on Deck 5. Kids can be kept busy with the computer lab, PlayStation area, candy-making machine, and sand art area, all connected by tunnels. The Jungle on Deck 3, while skirting the showroom, provides a peaceful rest-place to recharge before heading back to the excitement. The passenger cabins are on the remaining decks.
As we have mentioned before, the dining room food on Carnival is surprisingly good, much better than one would expect from a mid-price ship formerly known as a party boat. Carnival deserves a lot of credit (and they have a lot of experience) for getting this part of the cruise experience right. There are standard items on the menu every night, as well changing entrees that include low-carb and vegetarian selections.
The Empire Dining Room is the only main venue for all 2100+ passengers serving up to 1000 people at any given time surprisingly effectively. There are booths as well as tables for two (and four, six and eight), and an annex called the Napoleon Room with tables for eight and sometimes 10. The main dining room has early (5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m.) and late (8:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.) seatings. The Supper Club is open from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Table service is also available in the informal La Playa Grill from 6:00 to 9:30.
The Lido restaurant, La Playa Grill, also features a variety of specialty food stations in addition the usual buffet line. The international stations offer such tasty choices as Japanese, Indian, Chinese, deli-style sandwiches, pizza and other pasta, and hamburgers and hot dogs. There is a different meat featured at the carving station daily.
If beef is your passion, you will be very pleased with the 18-ounce prime rib and porterhouse, 14-ounce New York strip, or 9-ounce filet mignon found at Nouveau Supper Club, where reservations and jackets for men are required (and a $25 charge is added to your Sail & Sign card). Obviously specializing in special occasions, they also offer champagne and caviar (at an additional charge).
Room service is available 24-hours a day, but is not really a great reason to skip a meal outside your cabin. You don't want to miss the coffee bar's delightful desserts and pastries. The pizza bar, including an excellent Caesar salad, and New York deli are also available 24/7. For dessert, there is a self-serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt stand.
Carnival has developed a new way to serve its guests that ensures prompt and efficient service from friendly and courteous staff. This 'team service' concept entails four tables being attended by a headwaiter and several assistants. The enthusiastic staff learn the passengers' names and preferences, resulting in their favorite drinks, bread, and extras being on the table when they arrive. The nightly entertainment and dances performed by the staff give the whole ship a warm and informal feeling.
Gratuities include $5.50 for the Dining Room staff, $3.60 for the stateroom steward, and $.90 for the service in the alternative dining rooms. This makes for a total of $10.00 per person per day (excluding children under two). You can prepay this charge or have it automatically added to your Sail & Sign card. The pre-paid gratuities are mandatory on the Cruises-to-Nowhere. The purser's desk will increase or decrease this amount at your request throughout the cruise. The $10 charge does not include tips for the spa, casino, room service, maitre d' or other staff. All beverage tabs have a 15% gratuity already included.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for the maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff are at the passenger's discretion.
Along with regularly featured entertainers such as magicians, comedians, jugglers, ventriloquists, and various types of musicians (all at the Versailles Lounge), the Carnival's main entertainment is its Vegas-style show. This multi-million dollar production includes two singers, five male and nine female dancers, along with special guests, and is sure to leave you feeling well and truly entertained. The costumes alone cost half a million bucks!
The spacious cabins, 180 sq. feet, are cleverly designed with a subdued décor of peach and beige along with wood-toned furniture in warm caramel colors. Their layout features a sofa and vanity near the twin/king bed configuration and ample closets. Other amenities are the several movies found on the color TV everyday, hair dryer and safe. The bathroom has a shower and enough shelf space for two people, along with a complimentary basket of toiletries. Other room options are the 230 sq. feet deluxe ocean-view balcony cabin and the 245 sq. feet cabin with a 220 sq. feet wrap-around balcony. Other suites are the 300 sq. feet suite with a 115 sq. feet balcony and the 275 sq. feet suite with an 85 sq. feet balcony. The highlights of the suites and Oceanview staterooms are the well-stocked mini bar and cozy terrycloth robes. for disabled passengers are available.
Spirit's 13,700 sq. feet, two-deck gym is simply not to be missed, not even by the resolutely indolent. With floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic views, you may find yourself enjoying your time on any of the stairmasters, rowing and hydraulic weight machines, elliptical walkers, stationary bikes, or treadmills more than ever before. There's a jogging deck surrounding the forward Sky Deck; 15 times around equals a mile. Saunas and steam rooms are available for both sexes, along with an adult only whirlpool. Steiner's of London operates the nearby Beauty Salon Classique where guests can indulge in any beauty treatment or massage they desire. Ladies are very apt to feel like Greek goddesses in the salon, which features Doric columns and Greek vase motifs as part of a beautiful mural.
During the day casual attire is the norm, but don't' try to get into the dining room after 6 p.m. in shorts or jeans. There are two formal nights, but most men wear dark suits rather than tuxedos. Other evenings, men typically wear a sport coat and tie or other resort-type clothing. For the Alaska cruise, you are encouraged to bring warmer, waterproof clothes, along with comfortable shoes for outings.