Carnival Cruise Line
MS Carnival Spirit
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Operator: Carnival Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 2001 / 2001
Length / Tonnage: 963 / 88,500
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 1,062 / 2,124
Officers / Crew: Italian / International
Operating Area: Summer in Alaska, Panama Canal when returning to the Caribbean for Spring and Southern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
The 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit represents a new class of vessel for the line, combining elements of the Fantasy- and Destiny-class vessels. She entered service in April of 2001 and offers passengers Carnival's special blend of spectacular shows, good food, a variety of tours, & diverse clientele.
The Carnival Spirit incorporates a wide variety of design themes ranging from Art Deco to Gothic and Victorian to Egyptian. The public areas are plentiful, clean, roomy and quite comfortable.
Let's begin a tour of the newest addition to Carnival's fleet on the Sports Deck (Deck 11) where the jogging track is located forward. The Balcony of the Nouveau Supper Club alternative restaurant is located further back at the base of the ship's funnel. Behind the funnel is the children's pool and the entrance for the slide which dumps passengers in to another pool two decks below.
The well equipped Nautica Spa and Gymnasium takes up the forward part of the two decks below, the Sun Deck (Deck 10) and Lido Deck (Deck 9). Equipment in the gym area includes treadmills, stair masters, Keiser exercise machines and a limited number of free weights. The Nautica Spa sports a Greek theme with columns and hand-painted murals depicting Olympic events. Services available include sauna, steam, beauty salon, and "European-style" style therapy's. As with the other ships in the fleet the spa is operated by Steiners.
The only other public area on the Sun Deck is the main seating area of the Nouveau Supper Club.
Behind the gym area on the Lido deck (Deck 9) are the Sun Pool and the Dome pool plus a couple of whirlpools. The pools are separated by the Canopy Bar which serves your typical variety of pool side refreshments. Moving aft you come to the La Playa Grille which serves as the casual buffet dining area. This area is most popular for breakfast and lunch. In the middle of the La Playa Grille is the 24 hour Pizzeria which serves some of the finest pizza at sea.
The aft end of the Lido deck includes the Fantail pool and spa and the Fantail bar which is nice place to have a drink and watch the sea fade off into the distance behind you.
The next three decks - Panorama Deck (Deck 8), Verandah Deck (Deck 7), and Empress Deck (Deck 6) consist primarily of passenger accommodations with a mix of outside balcony cabins and inside rooms.
At the forward end of the Upper Deck (Deck 5) is the Fun House which serves as home base for the Camp Carnival program and is the primary area for children's activities. The 2,400 sq. ft. area is divided into three distinct areas catering to different age group and is decorated in a theme highlighting the wonders of the sea. The remainder of the deck consists of passenger accommodations.
Another area catering to the younger passengers, The Techno Arcade is located one deck down in the forward portion of the Main Deck (Deck 4). Just behind the arcade is the upper balcony of the three level Pharaoho's Palace theatre. Decorated in an Egyptian theme the theatre is the primary entertainment venue offering Vegas-style revues, Broadway musicals for 1,167 passengers per show. The remainder of Main Deck is dedicated to passenger accommodations.
The mezzanine level of the Pharaoho's Palace occupies the forward part of the Atlantic Deck (Deck 3) and is surrounded by The Jungle promenade/lounge. Decorated in an African theme the Jungle provides an intimate place to relax and meet others.
Moving aft on the Atlantic deck you come to the English country themed Chippendale library which also houses the Internet terminals for passengers. Just past the library is the Chapel with it's stained glass gothic windows. The chapel is a first for Carnival and is used primarily for the renewal of wedding vows. Continuing aft you can follow the Deco Walk to the Shanghai Piano Bar which always seems to have a late night crowd.
The ship's primary shopping area takes up the middle portion of the Atlantic deck along with the Photo Gallery where you can review the thousands of photos that are taken of passengers each day. The Spirit Atrium rises through the center of the Photo Gallery.
Aft of the Photo Gallery is the Deco Lounge with it's period decorations and the upper level of the Empire Restaurant. This is the main dining area on board the ship and is decorated in the style of a 19th Century French chateau.
An outdoor promenade flanks most of the public rooms on the Atlantic deck and is a nice place to get away from the crowds and read a book or simply relax and watch the sea go by.
The main level of the Empire Restaurant occupies the aft portion of the Promenade Deck (Deck 2). Outside the restaurant on the Promenade Deck is the small two story Dancin Dance Club and deco-inspired Artists Lobby and the main gathering place on board the ship the Spirit Lobby. A waterfall flows from the Atlantic Deck down to the Spirit Lobby. The Tour Office and Information Desk are located just off of the Spirit Lobby.
Moving forward is the Louis XIV Casino which offers the typical cruise fare: blackjack, roulette and a wide variety of slots. Just past the Casino is the Champions Sports bar and another small dance floor plus the Fountain Cafe. The bottom level of the Pharaoho's Palace theatre occupies the forward part of the Promenade Deck.
One deck down, the Riviera deck contains mostly passenger accommodations and the Versailles Lounge, which is another popular late night stop offering comedy and music.
The two level Empire Dining Room was spacious, comfortable and quite nice looking. Main courses include a variety of seafood, filet mignon, prime rib, turkey, etc.
The service is good but not excellent. The waiters, unlike those we had on other cruises, could not remember what our preferences were. Tipping is pooled, so there is no incentive to excel. Breakfasts were boring-nothing fancy, with limp bacon, runny eggs, cold pancakes, & no waffles or fruit toppings. Omelets were available however.
If you are looking for an alternative to the crowd in the main dining room, make sure you visit the the Nouveau Supper Club which is nestled in the base of the ship's funnel. You will need reservations and there is a $20 per person service charge but the food there seems to taste better and the service is top notch. This is also where you will find the crab claws from Joe's Stone Crab restaurant in Miami.
The food up at the LaPlaya Grille was very good as well.
The midnight buffets were less elegant than most, usually serving obvious left-overs. The pizza at the pizza bar was very good. Desserts were disappointing. Unlike other cruises, there were no candles, no flaming baked Alaska, & no flaming cherries jubilee. Those desserts were served but they weren't made with alcohol or flames. (Ice cream with 3 cherries on top & frosted Neapolitan ice cream.)
Room service was very fast & a good alternative.
The Carnival Spirit has lots of cabins...based on double occupancy she has a LOWER bed capacity of 2,124 passengers and with hundreds of upper berths this ship can and does sometimes carry about 2,500 people....The standard cabins....which at some 190 square feet for outsides and 185 for insides are the biggest in this segment of the market...(except for the minimum priced rooms which are smaller and not very good choices unless money is a very important concern) are sparely furnished...a lot of hard surfaces and heavy duty carpeting, but the few fabrics hide dirt well, formica is easily scrubbed should it be soiled...this ship gets a lot of traffic...more of a carpeted college dorm room feel than the Ritz...at far less cost than either of them! There is a lot of storage space so there is room for everything you bring and buy en route. In the bathrooms there is wonderful water pressure and LARGE shower compartments which always delights me
Eighty percent (80%) of the staterooms are outside and most (64%) of the staterooms have verandahs. All cabins feature color television, wall safe, and phone.
Sooner or later EVERYONE who cruises sails on Carnival..or one of its family of cruise lines....and maybe they should...The Carnival Spirit pleases people of all ages...you'll find people from 90 days to 90+ years of age here..Remember that fleetwide about 30% of the passengers are under 35 years of age.. Kids love this ship and parents always appreciate the chance to drop off their young and know that they will be well looked after at Camp Carnival...
MS Carnival Spirit kicked off her inaugural season with a 16-day Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Los Angeles in April 2001, followed by a special three-day Pacific Coastal cruise from San Francisco. In the fall she will operate a pair of 12-day Hawaii sailings and a 14-day Panama Canal voyage from San Diego to Miami.
These are marvelous, amazing ships....big for me, yes, impersonal for me, too...and far too much fun for my stolid, antediluvian inertia... and that she might not be my style is okay. I recognize her for the great ship she is! She can't cater to your every whim...so don't expect her to do it...yet all reasonable requests seem cheerfully accommodated...no mean feat for a cast of characters THIS size!...Some weeks she hosts almost 3,000 different paying guests!!!! Fleetwide, Carnival carries about 20,000 people every week..so...who can be more than a number here? Lose yourself in a crowd...let your hair down...even if you don't have any hair! Breathe deeply, let it out slowly if you are annoyed, let 'em do it their way and let them amuse you THEIR way....they're damn good at it!...Carnival DOES have the fun...it's not a top notch five star city hotel or a classy, high end resort, but that's not what you came to this ship to see.
The following are pictures of the Spirit taken in January of 2001 at the Kvaerner Masa ship builders yard in Finland.
Port Side Profile:
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