My family and I spent 9 days cruising onboard the Carnival Spirit – a ship very much designed with families in mind.
I’ve travelled on Carnival Cruise Lines before now. But this is something else again.
The ship boasts amazing facilities, extensive kids clubs and has the Dr Suess characters onboard.
But is it just a floating entertainment palace?
Many people are concerned about all that noise and all those kids and the crowds?
These are all questions we asked ourselves, so I know other families will be asking them too.
We’re not really into big crowds. We kind of like our own space. Don’t get me wrong, we like to go to shows and attractions etc. But we also like to retreat to our own little corner too. Can you even do that on a cruise ship of this size?
My family are hard to please on holidays. They want to be doing, doing, doing all the time. They want to see things and experience things and at 18, 9 and 2 they all need different experiences.
So that is a difficult holiday to find!
But find it we did.
As a mother I know exactly what it’s like when you’re looking to spend your money on something for the whole family. And let’s face it, holidays are expensive. Especially if you have school-aged children and have to take your holidays during the most expensive times so value for money is what we all want.
We travelled on the Spirit for 9 nights to New Caledonia in Febuary and barely touched the sides of what is on offer to do.
And we did a LOT of stuff.
Trust me when I tell you, there is no way you will ever be bored on this ship.
Here’s a quick overview why:
Food and Dining
You will find plenty of choices with delicious dining options for the whole family, most of which is included in the price of your cruise. (Some venues charge additional make sure to check before you cruise)
If you’re not sure about any of the restaurants you can just pop in and ask a member of staff to see the menu, if they have any additional charges and what sort of food they serve. We found them supremely helpful – especially when asking about the suitability for children.
If you don’t want to dress up and like to eat quite informally, be sure to check out the varity on offer at the self service buffet with a HUGE selection for even the fussiest of eaters.
It does however get very busy, but there are staff helping with seating so you’re never waiting for too long.
It’s a great place to eat lunch or breakfast.
If you like formal dining, or something a bit special, the dining room is a gorgeous spectacle of a dining room that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days.
My kids highlight was seeing the wait staff everynight who danced and sang with them, and treated them like their own children, Mr 8 even cried one the last night as he was so sad to leave them.
There are lots of other places to eat if you want something quick and easy – such as 24 hour pizza, burgers, Mexican, sushi, and a café with amazing coffee, cakes and donuts.
Or, if you’re feeling really decadent, order in room service and sit on your balcony watching the sea slip by!
There are 2 different pools for families on board, plus a H2O Zone for children with squirting water cannons, slides and two huge multi-coloured waterslides looming overhead and lots of places to play.
Plus an adults-only pool, that looked very tranquil and private and very much feels like a private spa, unfortuanlly we never made it for a swim on our own.
The main pools, are for every day use and consequently it is rather noisy around here!
The pools aren’t huge so during busy times it can feel quite crowded, the perfect time for a quite visit is early morning or during a port days when you find them almost empty.
That said the children absolutely loved the pool.
But please note: Babies/ All Children must be toilet trained to use the ship pools and swim nappies are NOT allowed due to health regulation, luckily I had already heard this and trained Piper two months prior to our trip otherwise it would have been a nightmare going anywhere near the pools and trying to explain she couldn’t go in! So if your thinking of booking and know your child will want to swim then make sure you have already or leave enough time to get that training done before you depart. Also toilets are not located close to the pool area so make sure they have learnt to hold on and take them for regular toilet stops just in case.
THE DAY SPA
Yes I just had to try it out! Its quite large in size with a full gym with spa for Adults in the rear. I had the most wonderful facial and massage and felt a million dollars. If it’s something that interests you, make sure you book in quickly when you board as the spots do tend to fill up quite quickly plus book for a treatment early in the cruise as its well worth it to relax early and get the full holiday experience.
Or the kids clubs. Personally I’ve never really cared if my kids go to kids clubs or not and are happy to spend the holiday enjoying time with them, so I leave it up to them but I can honestly say Joshua Mr 8 was begging to return after his first session he loved it. It’s Suitable for children aged 3 and 17, they are SO well thought out, the facilities are amazing, all activities are Age-appropriate like treasure hunts, obstacle courses, arts and craft, sports competitions, movies and playground outings at sea.
Piper was too young to leave alone as stating age is three but we were able to take her in at certain times and let her have a play with the toys and stay and play with her her which she really enjoyed.
If you want an Adults night out they also provide “Night Owls”club which for a nominal fee, kids aged 2-11 can stay up with others their age until as late as 1 a.m. They’ll enjoy music, activities, games and giveaways at supervised parties while you enjoy some time out maybe wining and dining.
On top of ALL of this there is a casino, a gym, loads of very different bars, a library, nightclub, – even a chapel if you fancy tying the knot onboard.
So did we find that much desired corner to ourselves? Did we find it crowded, overbearing, busy?
Well yes, we travelled on the ship at peak holiday time so it was busy. But there was always somewhere to find peace.
Would I recommend cruising to a family with little ones.
Yes I would.
Just be prepared that you might not get to do and see everything that you want too, as often little ones have other ideas, traveling with family or friends as a group is always a good way to go as you can always swap around the baby sitting duties.
As a family when we travel we want quality, to be treated well – very well – and we want to go home with amazing memories.
And that’s exactly what we got.
Thanks Carnival Cruise Lines for the amazing memories.
Love Kerry and Miss Piper
*This really just touches on our cruise experience so if you have any questions feel free to ask a question here or Pop on over to Instagram and send me a Direct Message.
Also be sure to check out our last Blog post on the green eggs and ham breakfast onboard.