Cruising Carnival Spirit: Family Fun Onboard This Family Ship

Have you ever been on a holiday that was just so amazing that you wanted to tell everyone all about it but didn’t know where to start? Well, this is what happened to us after our eight night adventure onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit in early December. Our cruise was so good that even I have struggled to condense and share our amazing highlights.


Why we choose to cruise

Put simply, a cruise ship is  basically a floating family resort with all the entertainment, services and activities that adults and kids could ever think of and wish for. Included in this list…. late night child minding,  numerous specialty food and beverage options and shore excursions that will take your family to remote and unique destinations without ever needing to repack the suitcase. It’s not surprising that people the world over say, ‘What’s not to love about cruising?‘.

Having said that, not all ships are created equal. When choosing a cruise, make sure you pick one that’s going to give you a complete family holiday experience.   Be wary of the cruise ship that has a kids club but not a lot else.  Our time on Carnival Spirit taught us that cruising with kids is less about child minding (and mummies #winetime) and more about the range of family activities that you can do together.

During our stay we only used the kids club a handful of times… there was so much happening every day that we didn’t want our boys (ages 7 and 5) to miss out on all the fun!  We really enjoyed being with them while they experienced so many new things. #makingmemories #allthefeels


What’s a Carnival Spirit Cruise like?

This really is a family cruise ship.  Aside from the casino and adults only Serenity retreat, you can feel comfortable taking your kids most places onboard. The crew are so welcoming that they instantly feel like family and they genuinely love children. Our boys became very friendly with the restaurant staff in particular (and came to know them by name).  They danced with them nightly, did magic tricks at the table to entertain them and even offered to cut up their steaks at mealtime!

If you’re like me and you are chatty with everyone, the other guests will start to feel like family too.   This doesn’t mean that you are living in each other’s pockets.  Spirit is a whopping 3 football fields long and 12 decks high and accommodates her 2124 guests nicely. There are activities going on all day every day on the ship and these seem to do a good job of keeping passengers dispersed into different zones so that it never feels cramped.

The busiest it ever felt for us was on sea days when passengers were trying to eat breakfast at the same peak times on the Lido Deck… for us we just chose these days to eat brunch in the Empire Dining Room #noproblem!

Tip: We also loved getting a quick breakfast from the Blue Iguana Cantina and an amazing lunch from Guy’s Burger Joint. 

Watch our video highlights: Take a quick look at our family holiday onboard Carnival Spirit.


Our Carnival Spirit FUN TIMES and highlights

Firstly I want to say…your kids will not be bored! There is so much to do and see that even WE did not get it all done and I was pushing pretty hard just so I could report back on it all for you.

Some of the family friendly things we loved included: 

1. Mini Golf. My kids are just at the right age to love playing this…and to recognise that their mum is the best at it in the family!

Tip: Pack a hat and try and visit at the end of a shore excursion day before the ship is sailing again.

2. Dive-in Movies on the Lido Deck. What kid wouldn’t love staying up late and Finding Dory at Sea!

Tip: Popcorn is provided! Pack a jumper or take your pool towel with you so you can keep snug.

3. Games Room Challenges

Tip: There’s the games room and then there’s the free fuse ball and shuffle board tables in the RedFrog Rum Bar…and darts. Our boys loved Fuse Ball challenges so much that we have since bought them one for home!

4. Behind the Scenes Tours – We did a bridge tour, met the Captain, learned to cook the ship’s signature Chocolate Melting Cake in the galley AND went behind the scenes with the Ship’s Entertainment Director to get the inside scoop on the ship’s nightly shows. These tours are available to all passengers to book, but note that limited places do apply, keep an eye out for the invitation in the daily cruise planner.

Tip: Don’t miss the nightly shows or the Punchliner Comedy Club (The early sessions are PG rated and suitable for kids).  

Standouts shows for our boys included the Cluedo ‘who dun it’ escapades (they still talk about who they think was really guilty), The Magic production and the Hasbro Game Show where my eldest was picked to go on stage and be a participant!

5. Specialty Dining and Character Experiences. We enjoyed a very interactive character breakfast with Cat in the Hat and friends! The food, the staff, the menu, the lot… were all completely themed. We sang, we danced and ate Green Eggs and Ham all while having a great time. #bucketlistitemticked

Tip: Check your activity guide for the Seuss-a-Palooza Parade. It also had us cheering and dancing!

We also enjoyed a very decadent high tea that drew inspiration from Alice’s Mad Hatter friend. Again this was completely themed and full of delicious treats.

6. Splash Playground, Pools and Water Slides.  For us, this is the business end of the ship. The boys could literally spend hours here!

Tip:  Bring floaties for the little ones for the Splash Playground and pools and then sit back and relax with a cocktail while they go crazy.

Also visit the Splash playground and hit the slides on the late afternoons on shore days, they are almost always empty. 

7. Get into the theme and formal nights by bringing some simple accessories with you.  Our theme nights were Mexican, Caribbean and 80s.

Tip: On theme nights make sure you have dinner in the Empire Dining room. The entire restaurant comes alive with song and dance,  it’s a brilliant atmosphere and great to be part of.

If you can, arrange a babysitter to extend the experience by attending a late night deck party.

Tip: “Night Owls” late night child minding is available from 10pm – 1am.

We also recommend eating at the specialty restaurants at least once if you can. It is an extra cost but the French fare in Nouveau was sensational (the cheesecake…) as was the fresh sushi from Bonsai Sushi Bar.  They have what I’m sure is the world’s largest sushi boat – you needed TWO HANDS to carry it! It’s a must do.

8. Soft service ice cream 24/7 for the kids and cocktails for me. You only live once right!

9. Wiggle for Westmead. This was one of my favourite activities. We helped fundraise for Westmead Children’s Hospital by wiggling on the Lido pool deck.  This was so fun and for a great cause. We have been following the hospital on Instagram for a few years now and were happy to be able to contribute.

10. Camp Carnival Kids Club. Even though we didn’t spend much time in kids club…it didn’t stop the boys from asking us daily if they could go.  Camp Carnival is free for cruising kids and is broken down into the following age groups: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years and 9 to 11 years.

Teens also have their own dedicated area on the ship including a nightclub.  #What! I’m so not ready for my boys to enter this phase yet! 🙂

Experienced educators are in place to ensure that your child spends time on age appropriate activities. Our boys had fun doing arts and crafts, dancing, watching movies and playing games and basically just dove right in.

Note: Parents are not allowed into Camp Carnival (they will send your children out to you) but you can watch them on the monitor outside. Children older than ours were also are given passes to come and go as they like from kids club.  I know my boys thought this was pretty cool!

Whilst in kids club, your children will not starve. Kids get their own menus (similar to the dining room) where they can order traditional faves like chicken nuggets and mac and cheese.

Tip: Register early for kids club.  There was a decent sized line of parents waiting to register their children when we visited on opening day; but we were able to sail right past them because we had pre-registered when we first got onboard.


Accommodation

We usually stay in a balcony room so I can’t really comment on what it’s like without one, but can say that I think it’s pretty good to have one! We like being able to sit outside and talk once the kids have gone to bed, I also enjoy the breeze and the view as we sail along. #doingittough

We have been told by a good source that Carnival Spirit has some room configurations where there is a balcony and an adjoining inside room for the kids. This seems amazing, I bet they would sleep for days and days without the light coming in to wake them up 😉 #motheroftheyear.

Other room options include: Ocean View, Interior and Suites.

We loved our room configuration which was made up of a Queen bed for us and bunk bed for the boys.  They took turns sleeping on the top bunk and didn’t fight over it for once which is always a good thing! They also liked that they each had a night light near their pillow.

Each day our room steward would also leave us a new towel animal to enjoy. This was always a surprise and brought a smile to our faces.

In room features & tips:
– In your room you will find a TV.  Look out for the kids movie of the day. This was good for settling the boys in the afternoon for a rest and keeping them occupied in the room while we got ready to head out each day. Note. I also packed activities for them to do in the room…like making a door sign for our cabin. This seems to be a ‘thing’ on cruise ships. Guests often mark out anniversaries, birthdays on their doors using signage.

– Your suitcases will be delivered to your room but they may not arrive straight away. It’s a good idea to pack the kids swimming gear in a carry-on bag so that they can hit the pool and slides straight away while you wait.

Toiletries – Soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided but you won’t find other amenities like sewing kits, cotton balls and shower caps in your room, so please remember to pack these.

Power points – This is probably the one area that I wish that I’d been more prepared for. Hubby and I were wrestling over the one double power point in the room to keep our devices charged. Naturally the core priority on the ship is to make sure that fires are avoided and for this reason straighteners are prohibited and you won’t find an iron in your room. Power boards are not allowed to be brought onboard either as they need to be tagged and tested before use, but I have heard that you can ask your room steward for a power board or a double adaptor once onboard.  Or better, switch off from the devices and just enjoy your week of leisure! 🙂


New Caledonia Visits and Shore Excursions

I have to say that the shore excursions were the biggest highlight of our cruise. New Caledonia is simply stunning and we have all developed a passion for snorkeling, building sandcastles and relaxing by the sea. The water at each location we visited was crystal clear, we have never seen anything like it.

During our cruise we had three shore days at the following amazing locations:

# Mare and Yejele Beach

# Noumea with a trip to the exclusive Amedee Private Island

# Isle of Pines including swimming with turtles and a speed boat adventure to Brush Island

Take a look at our shore excursion highlights:

Tips:
-You don’t need to take your passport on shore excursions – just your cruise card in a lanyard that you have brought from home. Take a photo of your passport on your phone if you are worried about being left behind.


– Hire the snorkel gear and pack reef shoes. This will help you to make the most of your shore excursions and #seamore.


– Dad joke warning. Riding the tenders to shore can cause the fathers in your group to sporadically sing “Love me Tender”… on repeat.  This is  usually followed by blank stares from the kids of all ages and eye rolls from loving wives.


Last notes

Cruising is a dream vacation where you can actually relax on holidays with your kids. The only problem? The let down you experience when you have to go home.  Yes, unfortunately when it’s all over and you will come crashing back down to reality and spend your days wondering who’s cooking the evening meal and why there is no new towel animal waiting for you in your perfectly tidy cabin each day.

Tip: When you get this feeling…it’s time to book another cruise.


Getting ready to cruise Carnival

A lot of people ask me what they need to do to get ‘cruise ready’.  There are some great tips for sure and here’s a link to some of them, but fortunately there isn’t a lot that you need to know to get it right.  Cruise ships like Spirit are designed with the complete needs of their guests in mind.  You could literally pack a bag and a passport (and have your sea sickness preparation in place) and still be guaranteed to have a great time.


Details

Thanks to our stay onboard Carnival Spirit, our jetsetting family is now completely sold on cruising and with so much to do and love onboard, why wouldn’t we be?

 

The ship departs from Sydney, Honolulu, Melbourne and Sydney with cruise lengths ranging from 2 – 5 days, 6 -9 days and 10+ days. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

For further information on Carnival Cruise Line’s sailings and specials, please visit: www.carnival.com.au 

Please note:

  • Our cruise departed from the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney and we travelled domestically from Brisbane to meet the ship. Getting from the airport to the terminal was very easy with the train and we would recommend this to any family considering a Carnival Cruise from Sydney. I have made this journey a few times in recent months and it takes about 30 minutes to get there from the airport and drops you within metres of the terminal. Carnival also offer an excellent airport transfer to the port, book in advance with your travel agent.

  • Sensational family specials can and do come up! While we were cruising, there was a kids sail free offer with 2 paying adults available for select 2017 Sydney sailings.  This was a fabulous deal for families. I’ll be sharing more specials like this on my blog and instagram accounts @jetsettingkids @cruisingwithkids as I find them!


Credit

We were media guests onboard Carnival Spirit. All opinions are our own and correct at the time of publication.

If you would like to know more about our experience cruising with Carnival Australia, drop us a comment below or an email hello@jetsettingkids.com.  If you have enjoyed this post or found it helpful, we’d love to hear from you. Your feedback and opinions keep us doing what we do! xx Paula