When Carnival Spirit invited me to hop on board for an 8-day cruise to New Caledonia, I broke into a cold sweat. Let’s put it this way, my very first sail was 10 years ago on a much smaller ship, in the open sea. I haven’t been in a rush to hop back onboard another ship since. That particular horrifying experience was conjured up by a mix of rough, choppy Tasman sea and an all-you-can-eat buffet. Before I knew it, my face turned as green as the Wicked Witch of the West, followed by a close reenactment of the famous scene in The Exorcist. All I could remember afterwards was locking myself in the cabin, lying in bed like a dead fish with a pail, rocking back and forth into unconsciousness all the way to our destination.
However, I’ve chatted with so many friends who’ve had an absolute ball on cruise ships. They all assured me I’d have a great time. I still wasn’t 100% convinced but I packed my bag, snorkeling gear and a full box of motion sickness pills. I was ready for an adventure on the high seas.
From food to fast facts, here’s how I spent my time aboard the Carnival Spirit:
Carnival Spirit is the largest and youngest cruise ship ever to be based full-time in Australia. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, approximately 833,348 Aussies took a cruise last year. With an increase of more than 40 per cent over the previous program, Carnival Cruise Lines has even introduced another cruise ship, the Carnival Legend, down under. It starts sailing out of Sydney next year.
At 88,500 tonnes (equivalent to 77 Manly ferries), the Carnival Spirit is a big girl and as steady as a rock. She is 12 decks high and three football fields long, she can accommodate up to 2,680 passengers, plus 930 crew members; I actually didn’t feel like I was on a ship but a floating city. I could barely feel the ship was moving when she pulled out of Sydney harbour, and only noticed when the city skyline started disappeared behind us.
They don’t called Carnival Spirit “The FUN ship” for nothing. The “Fun Times” brochure was distributed daily; with the schedule of more than 45 activities held each day. Sports, games, shows, parties, classes, seminars and more – most free and open to anyone.
The ship’s most talked about activity, which all passengers should try at least once, is the ‘Green Thunder’. Located at the outdoor Water Park on the top deck, this 60-metre water slide begins with a vertical drop before twisting out to the edge of the ship and finishing with a big splash. There’s nothing like an adrenalin rush on the steepest and fastest water slide at sea.
This is just one of the fun activities on the cruise designed to keep the kids busy. They can try mini golf, basketball, table tennis and the thrilling waterpark. There’s also Club Carnival, a parent-free zone with designated ‘fun’ rooms, activities and programs for different age groups. Parents can organise babysitting for a small fee so they can sneak out for a date night. Teenagers tend to prefer to do their own things by hanging out in the cool kids lounge, playing video games or dancing the night away. There’s a good chance you won’t see your teens all holiday.
Honestly, there’s no end to the entertainment options aboard this ship. Head over to Pharaoh’s Palace after dinner and enjoy different live shows each night. Then join the cheeky Aussie comedians at The Punchliner comedy club, you’ll be in stitches in no time, especially during the late night “Adults Only” sessions. If the night is still young, then get your groove on at the Dancin’ Nightclub or the Piano Bar, and relive your 80s & 90s awesomeness!