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Sandy

Age: 46

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 19

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Spirit

Sailing Date: 2012-11-27

Itinerary: New Caledonia

Disappointing. We were expecting Carnival and got Carnival Lite. Too many kids. Relaxing ports with good snorkeling.

The food was fair and has deteriorated significantly in quality since we sailed on Spirit less than 2 years ago from San Diego to Mexico. No lobster and very little seafood (other than defrosted prawns/shrimp or fish fillets) served in the dining room. Several people returned the lamb on one of the later nights because it was so tough they couldn't cut or chew through it. The choice was very limited. Only 2 courses offered for dinner plus dessert. Soup/salad and appetizer all in same course (about 5 choices in all) and main course was choice of five. Amongst the most lack lustre cruises we've ever had for food.

The buffet was OK for breakfast and lunch but very limited for dinner. One station is devoted to meat pies, sausage rolls and other Australian fast food 'delicacies' at lunch.

The Asian and Caribbean were popular as were the Hamburger grill and overworked and very slow pizza section where you have to wait in line before ordering your pizza (limited choice of 6 - no vegetarian) and then wait again for the guy to roll the dough and pass it in through the window to have the toppings applied and the pizza to be cooked before it finally comes out again and you have to jostle for position to get it before someone else does. It would take about 15 minutes to get a piece of pizza - all going well.

Our balcony cabin was the usual layout although it seemed slightly smaller than some we've had but we couldn't figure out why. The cabin steward (Putu) was the best one we've had in years. The things I most liked were that the supplied hairdryer was actually strong enough to dry my hair, the mattress was more comfortable than many I have had previously, the shower curtain somehow stayed in place and did not keep trying to attack me while I was in the shower (like on most ships). Whatever they did to it they should also do on other ships. What I didn't like was the bad vibrations you could feel while lying down on your bed especially when the ship was travelling below full speed. It was only after experiencing them again did I remember they had occurred on the sailing to Mexico as well. They seem to disappear when the ship is travelling at 20-21 knots but at 10-12 knots (ie when travelling between the actual ports of call) they are quite pronounced.

Onboard activities were fairly poor and aimed mainly at children (eg. hula hooping and paper aeroplane making). The movies on show were old and many very old Australian movies (repeated numerous times) like The Castle and Strictly Ballroom. Yawn. The TV service was poor. No music channel, limited news, limited old movies repeated several times. The gym as usual was great, the Spa popular, the mini-golf fun.

The kids waterpark area looked fun but can't have been too great because there were usually about 20 kids sitting in each of the two main whirlpools/spas on deck at any time of the day/evening and lots more splashing in the main pools. This made it very difficult for any adult to use one without risking being bombarded by many small and unsupervised children. The large water slides seemed to mainly be open when the ship was in port.

The shows appeared to be the same as those I had seen two years earlier. The dancing/entertainment crew seem to have it fairly easy on this ship performing for about 7 hours throughout the 9-10 days of an average cruise. They surely can't need that much practise if they are doing the same shows as 2 years ago. There was the usual trivia for a ship on a stick. Only one morning of wake up TV with the cruise director (last sea day), only one dance class (last afternoon of the cruise - not much use if you wanted to practise while you had bands and dance floors available to you throughout the cruise.

Bingo sales appeared fairly brisk. The scrapbooking was a joke - no kits were supplied - only limited left over supplies from past cruises with no guidance. No other arts and crafts offered other than paper aeroplane making. There were a few exercise classes for free - more than on some other ships. The Captain's Welcome Party (held at the Atrium bar) was a sad affair - no free drinks or nibbles anymore - and we had to go up to the next level to see where he was. There was no party held for returning passengers as supposedly there weren't enough to warrant it. Overall almost the worst cruise for onboard activities we've been on but it could have been worse.

The excursions were expensive. In Noumea I would suggest you book a city tour when you get to the cruise terminal if that' what you want to do. They are priced at least $10 less than on the ship. Alternately, if you have local money it is easy to catch a public bus to either of the main beaches Anse Vata or Citron/Lemon Bay. In Mare the majority of the passengers paid $15/16 each for local transportation to a beach about 20 minutes away. Many people returned complaining of bluebottle/jellyfish stings. We snorkeled right near where the tender pulled up in a roped off area. It was very good but only suitable for agile people who can climb in and out of the water on a ladder and who are also good swimmers as the water is at least 8-10 feet deep and there is nowhere you can stand up in the water. In Isle of Pines you just need to walk to the beach or snorkeling area - no need for a tour at all. In Lifou you can walk to the beach just near the tender jetty.

We had been looking forward to our cruise as we have been waiting for Carnival to come to Australia for a long time. What we got was Carnival Lite. In their usual wisdom, a cruise company has yet again decided that Australians are happy to pay more for their cruises than their American counterparts for less of everything. We sailed on the Spirit less than two years ago and the difference in what we experienced between then and now was significant. The only real improvement was our cabin steward. Everything else was similar or worse. The food, activities, movies, TV and even the cruise director (though he was the same one) and his staff were much worse. The ship itself was looking a little tired.

The worst thing though about the entire cruise was the number of unruly and unsupervised children running riot throughout the ship at ALL hours of the day AND night. It was like Camp Carnival and the rest of the childrens program wasn't running. There were literally 100s of children (figures of over 500 and 900 were overheard on board) and no-one appeared to be responsible for them. Whereas usually they are being looked after and entertained in their own areas, on this cruise they took over all the areas. It ruined the enjoyment of many passengers - even some with their own kids complained to me about the other kids. The only areas you could escape were the gym and the adults only Serenity area at the rear of the ship. However, much of the Serenity area is taken up by 'private' two people pods/cabanas that are staked out by people at 5am and never vacated - some people even slept in them at night to make sure they had them the next day. This means that people seeking some peace and quiet relaxation time are very restricted in where they can go.

We found we spent a lot of time in the cabin or on the balcony just to get away. Carnival will need to limit the number of children on board or drastically improve the services they provide to keep the 100s of kids busy, entertained/amused if they want people seeking a relaxing holiday &/or those without kids to come back to the Spirit or maybe they are happy for them to go to Royal Caribbean/Celebrity and Princess instead.

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