Fodor’s Expert Review
First in the new Spirit-class, Carnival Spirit entered service in 2001. In 2012, she was refitted with features designed to appeal to the Australian market, such as an aqua park with a 180-foot twisting waterslide and a new top-deck barbecue venue. Now in her new home “down under,” Spirit offers passengers improved coffee, more beers on tap, and more cabins with connecting doors.Read More
Spirit-class vessels may have seemed like throwbacks in size when they launched, but these sleek ships have the advantage of fitting through the Panama Canal’s original locks and, with their additional length, include all the trademark characteristics of their larger fleetmates. They’re also racehorses with the speed to reach far-flung destinations. Carnival Spirit—for which the class is named—makes its home port in Australia, primarily serving the Australian and New Zealand markets.
A rosy red skylight in the front bulkhead of the funnel—which houses the reservations-only upscale steak house—caps a soaring, 11-deck atrium. Lovely chapels are available for weddings, either upon embarkation or while in a port of call, and are also used for occasional shipboard religious services.
The upper and lower interior promenade decks are unhampered by a mid-ship restaurant or galley, which means that passenger flow throughout the ships is much improved over earlier, and even subsequent, designs.
The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.
Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.
- 12 passenger decks
- specialty restaurant, dining room, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator
- 3 pools (1 indoor), children’s pool
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
- 7 bars, casino, 2 dance clubs, library, show room, video game room
- children’s programs
- laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
- no-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
Cabins on Carnival ships are spacious, and these are no exception. Nearly 80% have an ocean view and, of those, more than 80% have balconies. Suites and some ocean-view cabins have private balconies outfitted with chairs and tables; some cabins have balconies at least 50% larger than average. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. High-thread-count linens and plush pillows and duvets are a luxurious touch in all accommodations. Suites also have a whirlpool tub and walk-in closet. Decks 5, 6, and 7 each have a pair of balcony staterooms that connect to adjoining interior staterooms that are ideal for families because of their close proximity to children and teen areas.
Light-wood cabinetry, soft pastels, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, a hair dryer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical for ocean-view cabins and suites. Inside cabins have ample room but no seating area.
Extras include shampoo and bath gel provided in shower-mounted dispensers, as well as fluffy towels and a wall-mounted magnifying mirror. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.
Sixteen staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.
Food & Drink
One formal restaurant serves open seating breakfast and lunch and adds a brunch on sea days; it also serves dinner in two traditional assigned evening seatings or an open seating option. The casual Lido buffet with stations offers a variety of food choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and different daily regional cuisines); at night it serves casual dinners. A pizzeria and poolside Guy’s Burger Joint, for burgers and fries, and BlueIguana Cantina, serving burritos, tacos, and all the trimmings, round out casual options. There’s also an upscale steak house and a sushi restaurant that require reservations and an additional charge. A specialty coffee bar and patisserie and sushi bar have per-item charges. Taste Bar serves complimentary appetizers before dinner and light snacks during the day; room service operates round the clock with a limited menu of breakfast selections, sandwiches, and snacks.
All ships have received newly branded bars and comedy clubs, and all offer high-energy shows by resident singers and dancers or guest performers in the main show room. Spirited piano bars, nightclubs featuring music for dancing and listening and karaoke, and deck parties add to the fun after dark.
Spa & Fitness
Steiner Leisure operates the 14,500-square-foot spas that offer an indoor therapy pool as well as such indulgences as a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials for adults and teens. Complimentary steam rooms and saunas in men’s and women’s changing rooms feature glass walls for sea views. Salons offer tooth whitening in addition to hair and nail services.