It may not be the biggest ship in Australia, but Carnival Spirit has gradually won over a huge segment of the local market with a selection of entertainment, theatre shows, programs and interactive games for all ages which far exceed its physical size.
Once you’re onboard and see the towering central atrium, straight away it hits home just how big the 2,124-passenger ship really is. The variety of things to do on what is, by some standards, a mid-size vessel is testament to just how well Carnival Cruise Line has made use of the available space on the ship.
Whether you’re on the top deck around the swimming pools, inside the Camp Ocean Kids Club (if your age permits), in Pharoah’s Palace Theatre, in the Shanghai Piano Bar, RedFrog Pub or any of the lounges or bars, you’re never short of things to see or do.
Let’s take a quick tour of some of the highlights you’ll find onboard Carnival Spirit.
Carnival Cruise Line was one of the pioneering brands to bring water slides onto cruise ships in Australia, and did so with a pretty amazing creation which it labelled Green Thunder. And like real claps of thunder, it’s over pretty quickly but you’ll probably remember it.
Naturally, you’ll find this amazing slide on the top deck, at the rear of the ship. After climbing a few flights of steps, one person at a time climbs into the entry chamber and stands on a platform. The capsule closes and you can hear a countdown – which only heightens the anticipation – after which the platform falls away underneath, sending you plummeting through the tube, which veers out over the side of the ship.
After about 15-20 seconds, you emerge back on deck near the bottom of the steps where you started, climb out and in so many cases, hurriedly rush back up the steps to go again.
SkyBox Sports Bar
On a much more serene level, the SkyBox Sports Bar is one of the many lounges and bars you’ll find on Carnival Spirit. Located next door to the RedFrog Pub on Deck 3, SkyBox offers wall-to-wall screens showing any and all popular domestic and international sports.
During the day, you’ll find a lot of international soccer from domestic European leagues playing, but if there’s a particular event or sport on you’d like to see, you can ask the crew member working if he or she can change the channel. If you’re sitting in one of the booths, each one also has an entertaining rugby video game where you can test your skills potting goals while you enjoy your beverage.
Most afternoons at sea, Carnival’s entertainment team will run sports trivia. If you consider yourself a bit of a sports brainiac, you should enjoy this activity.
Seuss At Sea
Part of the Camp Ocean Kids Club on Carnival Spirit, the ‘Seuss at Sea’ experience involves all sorts of different activities themed around the characters from the legendary author.
These include special themed breakfasts in the main restaurant where you can literally enjoy “Green Eggs and Ham” in the company of the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, Thing 2 and Horton, among others. The characters can sometimes be found wandering the ship, stopping to meet and greet with kids and running activities across the ship.
On one of the days at sea, head to the Central Atrium around midday and your kids can join in a group activity, after which the Seuss characters turn up and lead everybody on a parade through the ship to the theatre, where the Cruise Director leads everybody in a reading and live action rendition of the classic ‘Cat in the Hat’ story.
As far as theatre entertainment on a cruise ship goes, Playlist Productions is hard pressed to be beaten as one of the best.
A small troupe of prodigiously talented singers and dancers make up the group, who perform in a variety of shows throughout the cruise, including ’88 Keys’ and the long-running Carnival mainstay ‘Epic Rock’, both of which we’ve recently reviewed.
Depending on the length of your cruise, one or both of these shows will play either once or twice, with two performances per night in order to allow travellers at both dinner seating times a chance to see the show. Both are worth seeing, with some of Australia’s most talented performers plying their wares before your eyes.
Hasbro the Game Show
It’s a pretty novel idea and amazing nobody had thought of it sooner – but when Carnival decided to super-size some of the most famous board games of generations past – it proved to be a master stroke. Introducing ‘Hasbro the Game Show’.
Everybody knows games such as Connect 4, Trivial Pursuit, Operation and SORRY! among others, and there are opportunities to win some cool prizes by heading to Pharoah’s Theatre and volunteering to play. This event is usually run by the Cruise Director and makes for some excellent entertainment, whether you’re taking part or just watching from the audience.
Punchliner Comedy Club
Live comedy always draws a crowd at pubs, bars and comedy clubs all around the world, and many cruise ships feature a comedian as part of the entertainment line-up. Not many cruise lines however offer their own dedicated comedy club.
Punchliner Comedy Club on Carnival Spirit is designed to reflect the classic underground New York style, with the brick wall background and dimly lit atmosphere (minus smoke of course) making for a pretty cool venue for some evening laughs.
Carnival is regularly rotating its comedians, with our cruise featuring the hilarious Jason Ryder and Mick Meredith, both of whom are mainstays on the Australian comedy circuit. Evenings usually consist of the same lineup, with both comics offering a number of different shows and rotating each night as to who performs early and who is on later.
The earlier show is always family friendly and features no foul language and lots of corny humour, so it’s perfect for kids of all ages to go along, interact and have a giggle, playing at around 8pm. The later show comes on close to 11pm and is more the style of the performers and is naturally for adults only, with plenty of more adult oriented jokes and musical routines. Both are hilarious, but it’s important to be aware of the time slot and whether your sense of humour is appropriate for the show’s content. It’s still a fun way to start or end your night.