Why a Carnival Spirit cruise is the ultimate family holiday

If you’re not sure about cruising, you should try the Carnival Spirit.

Our family took a while to warm up to cruising. We were worried the kids might get bored, or worse – that we would. I can happily confirm there was no need to worry. Cruising with young kids is as easy as A, B, Sea!

While we’ve had an amazing time on all the cruises we’ve taken, our latest, on Sydney-based fun ship, Carnival Spirit, provided an epic week of next-level fun.

Here’s why Carnival Spirit is the ultimate fun ship for families:

Carnival Spirit cruise ship parked in the Sydney harbour
Carnival Spirit in Sydney Harbour. Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock

1. The excellent value

Accommodation, meals, activities, childcare and transport are all included in the price. Cruise holidays stretch your holiday dollar further. On Carnival Spirit you can cruise to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand for as little as $100 per person, per day, which is incredible value.

2. The convenience

Cruises are simple to organise. You don’t need to search for accommodation, cheap flights or things to do. Just book, pack and the rest is ready and waiting for you on board. What other form of travel allows you to snooze away your overnight transit in the complete and utter comfort of a bed?

3. The activities

The Carnival Spirit has more than 45 activities on board every day. There is something for everyone and guests can set their own pace. Daytime fun including arts and crafts sessions, sports, trivia and crew-led poolside activities. As night falls, head to the piano bars, karaoke, rock bands and shows, most of which are family-friendly. A favourite with my crew were the outdoor ‘Dive-In Movies’ by the pool on the lido deck, which screened latest release movies and family favourites each night.

4. Carnival Waterworks

The Carnival Waterworks includes a fun SplashZone area for the littlies complete with mini-slides, water play areas and tipping buckets. The two waterslides for older kids are brilliant. While our five-year old happily took on the two–storey corkscrew Twister, my eight-year old son and I braved the Green Thunder. My son loved the free-falling, 65km/h slide that snaked out and over the side of the ship, though I have to admit that by the time I reached the bottom, the slide wasn’t the only thing that was green.

5. The kids’ programs

The awesome Camp Ocean program, devised by a panel of experts including parents and specialists in children’s engagement and game play, offers more than 200 educational ocean-themed activities. There are three areas offering age-appropriate activities including Penguins for two- to five-year-olds, Stingrays for six- to eight-year-olds, and Sharks for nine to 11-year-olds. My kids aren’t usually kid’s club fans but they were champing at the bit to go to this one, and the littlest was extremely proud of winning her first ever trophy for excellence in colouring.

kids on the waterslides on Carnival Spirit
There are waterslides for all ages. Credit: Aleney De Winter

6. The freedom for teens

There’s a great teen program on board. Circle C entertains guests aged 12 to 14, and Club O2 gives teens aged from 15 to 17 a place to hang out with their new friends.

7. The serenity deck

While the kids were at Camp Ocean, we seized our rare moment of childlessness and headed to Serenity, an open-air, child-free area where grown-ups can soak up sun and cocktails. Enjoy 270-degree views from the comfort of one of the indulgent day beds or double hammocks. In peace!

8. The shore excursions

Kids can get bored being dragged around by their parents on sightseeing tours but cruising is a way of introducing kids to new places and cultures in shorter bursts. Carnival Spirit’s shore excursion crew are experts in pointing families in the right direction depending on age and interests.

9. The shows

The three-level Pharaoh’s Palace is the place to see family-friendly Broadway style theatrical extravaganzas, mesmerising magic shows, guest comedians and the interactive ‘Hasbro, The Game Show’ that might even see your kids starring in the show.

10. The food

Foodies are spoiled for choice on Carnival Spirit. There is a two-deck a la carte dining room, where you can get your fill of the ship’s famous warm chocolate melting cake. There is also casual dining at the International Food Plaza, sizzling sausages and pulled pork at Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ, tacos and breakfast burritos at Blue Iguana Café, and the best burgers you’ll ever eat at Guy’s Burger Joint. And guess what? They are all included in your cruise fare.

For a few dollars more there’s also Bonsai Sushi’s Japanese inspired delicacies and fine dining at Nouveau where you can indulge in prime cuts of beef, lobster and hand-picked wines. Wherever you dine, the food is fantastic so be prepared to come home a few kilograms heavier.

11. The ice cream

Seriously, what kid (or parent, for that matter) isn’t going to love free 24/7 ice cream? Ours could quite happily have spent all day laying prone under the ice cream taps if we’d let them, but instead had to satisfy themselves with frequent visits to the two poolside ice-cream stations for top-ups. Carnival Spirit also has its own candy store called the Cherry on Top where your kids can stock up on all their favourite sweet treats!

How good is icecream! Credit: Aleney De Winter

12. The Cat in the Hat

One ship, two ships, it’s Dr. Seuss on a cruise ship!

There is a glorious Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast where the kids dine on Seuss-themed goodies including green eggs and ham, moose juice and goose juice right alongside the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam. There are also character parades, interactive story times, arts and crafts and other Seuss themed activities and events. The Seuss at Sea program proved a huge winner with my little Seuss fans.

13. The High Tea at Sea

Pack your craziest hats for a Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea party, where there’s a huge spread of teas, coffees, hot chocolate and tables laden with delectable canapés and cakes. The kids are sure to enjoy the sugary treats as well as appearances from the white rabbit, the wicked Queen of Hearts and Alice herself.

kids dancing with Carnival Spirit crew
It’s so fun to dance with the crew. Credit: Aleney De Winter

14. The crew

Even with all its amazing features, the crew is the icing on the Carnival Spirit cake! From the room stewards to the incredible cruise director, hilarious head maître d’ and dancing waiters, every one of the 930 crew is warm, friendly and professional. Each and every one of them goes above and beyond to make your family holiday a great one.

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