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Cruising on Carnival Spirit

Carnival Spirit to New Caledonia

This article provides information about the Carnival Spirit and our overall cruise experience from Sydney to New Caledonia. I hope you find it useful.

Embarkation Day

We “Ubered” it from our overnight accommodation to the Overseas Passenger Terminal. It was a very easy & relatively inexpensive process, and we were dropped at the door!

I had checked-in online and printed all the documentation in preparation for the cruise, including the luggage tags. The tags are designed to be able to just fold and staple or tape around the handle on your bag. However, I found some useful supplies at Officeworks, including a lanyard for the Sail & Sign card that is used for all on-board purchases and to get on/off the ship at port. Lanyards are extremely useful, I suggest you purchase one if your Travel Agent has not supplied it.

Carnival Luggage Tag

Carnival Luggage Tag

Carnival Sail & Sign Card

Carnival Sail & Sign Card

We were not due to check-in until 2:00 – 2:30pm but arrived at the terminal early to meet others in our travelling party.  It was relatively quiet on the dock so they let us check in early. Bonus!!

One of our travelling companions was not able to walk great distances without taking breaks, so we requested wheelchair assistance to board. They were very obliging and organised it for us with very little fuss.

Queues were short for immigration, check-in and security so our wait time was minimal. We were soon on-board and had immediate access to our balcony cabins. Our bags had already been delivered to our room, although our travelling companions had to wait a while for theirs. Once settled we ventured to the top deck for a little champagne and to watch as the ship left dock and gently departed Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Circular Quay

Sydney - Circular Quay

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Life on Board


We had booked a balcony suite on a “Pack’n’Go” promotional deal. Whilst  cheap, this type of fare includes what is termed a guaranteed cabin. This means the cruise line allocates your cabin in either the same category as booked or will upgrade you to a higher category.

Our cabin (#7337) was at the rear of the ship on the 7th floor.  Whilst it was a great room, we could definitely feel the vibration from the ship’s engines & the rocking motion of the sea.  Our travelling companions were allocated a cabin at the front of the ship (#6128) on the 6th floor. It was quite a hike to  visit & collect them for dinner!

Carnival Spirit Balcony Suite

It was easy to arranged access to a wheelchair on-board (for a fee), which turned out to be a very good decision. All areas of the ship were wheelchair accessible. Pharaoh’s Palace theatre had a place for a wheelchair located about 4 rows from the stage with reserved seating next to it for accompanying guests. Versailles lounge also had reserved seating at the back of the room for wheelchair passengers and their friends.

We found it easier to take the lift down to level 2 or 3 to traverse the length of the ship as there was more space to manoeuvre the wheelchair as the walkways were generally wider.


There are plenty of things to do on board. To find out what is happening day to day download the Carnival HUB App to your mobile device.

Carnival Hub App

You can download the app before or after boarding. Once on board, switch to flight mode (to avoid data charges) and connect to Carnival’s Wifi to view what’s happening, weather, dining menus, your account and more!  There is even a chat feature you can purchase for a low once-off fee that allows you to talk to your travelling companions wherever they are on the ship! Note that you do not have to purchase internet packages to use the Carnival HUB app.

There are also flyers placed in your cabin each day that detail the next day’s activities & information about ports of call.

Below are some photos of various venues and places to enjoy.  There are also nice lounge areas and other bars to while-away your time!

Chippendale Library

Chippendale Library

Monarch Games Room

Monarch Games Room

Pharaohs Palace

Pharaoh's Palace

Serenity Adults Only Retreat

Serenity Adult Only Retreat

Shopping Arcade

Shopping Arcade

Skydome Water Slide

Skydome Slide

Kids Techno Video Arcade

Kids Techno Video Arcade



Basically the food options are: La Playa Grille buffet on the 9th floor Lido deck for breakfast, lunch & dinner, or Empire Dining Room on the 2nd/3rd floor for breakfast & dinner. There are also 2 specialty restaurants – Nouveau (steak & seafood) and Bonsai (sushi). These cost extra.  Otherwise there is a pizza bar & Mexican food outlet near the pool, and a hamburger place on the top deck.  There is also a limited room service menu.

Allocated vs Anytime Dining

Our “Pack’n’Go” fare included an allocated dining time. “Anytime Dining” was on a waitlist basis. It is possible to request the maitre d’ to change the allocated time, but it is highly unlikely they will be able to accommodate your request.

As it turned out, our allocated time of 7:45pm was a perfect time for dinner. In fact we were often late!! This didn’t seem to phase them too much, although the cruise wasn’t full.  It may have been different if every table was reserved.

Empire Dining Room

The Empire Dining Room is at the rear of the ship and covers 2 floors. Allocated Dining is on the 2nd floor while Anytime Dining is on the 3rd floor. We were aware of engine vibration & noise on most occasions.

Our waiter Ronaldo was very charming & tried quite hard to help with the requests of the 4 vegans at our table! The menu was quite limited in this regard.  If you are vegan be prepared to select your meals for the following night.  The chef told us he could “make us anything we need”, however we found some nights our choices were not able to be supplied.  I, for one, got a little sick of vegetable spring rolls & steamed veg!

Entertainment consisted of the maitré d’ saying “Helllooooo” to us each night over the PA and a member (or two) of the dining staff performing a well know song for us. There were also rounds of “Happy Birthday” sung to various tables.

La Playa Grille

The buffet in La Playa Grille is designed to feed the masses. It has 2 main hot food areas with bain-maries offering food such as fried rice, roast veg, noodles, Chinese food, beef casserole, hot chips, pies, eggs, bacon, grilled tomato, freshly made omelettes etc. There are 2 counters offering fresh salads, fruit, and other sides, as well as a sandwich & dessert counter. I wasn’t too happy with the concept that everyone helped themselves to the food. It is a great way to spread germs!


In terms of alcohol, wine ranges from $9 to $12 per glass, $38 – $46 per bottle. Generally cocktails are cheaper than a glass of wine! Refer to the extra information section below for more details about drink packages.


There is a gym on board offering a lot of standard equipment. Some of the equipment is out-dated and the touch screens can be a little sensitive (or not as the case may be). Space between the equipment is limited, so you may find you can’t stretch & lift as you might like.  Otherwise the gym overlooks the bow of the ship so offers some vantage viewing during your exercise routine!

Shore Excursions

We were able to take the wheelchair with us, which was great! The only catch was that the wheelchair was too wide for the gangplank, so our travelling companion had to walk a small distance onto & off the ship. The bus drivers and tender crew were also more than happy to assist loading & unloading the wheelchair.

Refer to this article for more information about shore excursions for limited mobility.


On arrival in Noumea we purchased the “Hop On, Hop Off” bus ticket for $20.00AUD.  The bus meets you at the ship and offers 9 stops around Noumea, including the markets, shopping centre, aquarium, Lemon Bay, Anse Vata, and the Museum & Library. We spent most of our time between the markets & aquarium. The bus then drops you back at the ship.


Noumea Markets

Noumea Markets


Noumea Aquarium

Noumea Aquarium

Noumea Aquarium

Noumea Aquarium


We elected to stay on board this day as the only excursion seemed to be to Yejele Beach on the other side of the Island.



Isle of pines

Today my travelling companions caught a tender across to the main town and spent the morning looking around. This cost them nothing besides time. They enjoyed themselves and got some great pictures of the local activities. Other shore excursions are available at a cost & include trips to beaches around the Island offering snorkelling and other sightseeing.

Isle of Pines

Isle of Pines

Isle of Pines

Isle of Pines

Sea Days

There are 2 Sea Days both on the forward & return journey, arriving back in Sydney in the early hours of the 8th day.

Sea Day

Sea Day

Sea Day

Sea Day

Extra Information

On board account & credit cards

Besides the Casino, the ship is a “cashless” society. Everything you buy  is charged to your room via your Sail & Sign card.

Here’s a tip for you: if you pay via Visa/Mastercard, and you have entered your details online, Carnival will be unable to determine if the card is a credit or debit card and will therefore not charge credit card fees. However, AMEX cards will attract a fee of 2.3%.  If you update your credit card details through Guest Services they will know whether the card is a credit or debit card and will apply a fee of 1.01% for Visa/Mastercard.

An initial $200 hold is placed on your credit card. Each subsequent purchase places a further hold on your credit account. At the end of the cruise the total amount will be charged to your credit card. However, the holds placed on your credit account will not released immediately. Be prepared for your credit card balance to be adversely affected for a number of days afterwards!

Drinks Packages

Carnival do not offer an alcohol drinks package.  They do have wine packages, e.g. $185 for 5 bottles which will save you a few dollars on purchasing a bottle per night.  They also offer bottomless bubbles packages for unlimited soft drink and juice.


Considering you will have held onto handrails, pressed elevator buttons, and otherwise touched surfaces that may have been infected by other peoples germ-ladened hands, it’s always a good idea to use the hand sanitisers whenever entering & leaving eating venues.  If you do happen to come down with gastro, make sure you report to the Medical Centre. You may be confined to quarters, but at least you might save others from suffering the same fate!

Power boards

Carnival do not allow power boards. They will be confiscated and returned to you at the end of the cruise.


If you are prone to travel sickness, pack ginger tablets, Kwells and ask your GP for a script for seasickness tablets.  Better to be safe than sorry!


On board shops sell duty free alcohol (not for consumption during the cruise), cigarettes (the allowance for Aussies is extremely limited), perfumes & jewellery. They also sell clothes & handbags, potato chips, chocolate, and a limited range of “over the counter” pharmaceutical supplies.  Shops close on “port days” and reopen once the ship has left port.


I was surprised by the number of smoking areas available on board. Open parts of the Lido deck (9) and deck 10 provide lounges & sitting areas with ashtrays. Note that you are not allowed to smoke while the ship is refuelling & ashtrays are removed. Announcements are made to keep you aware.

Target market

There is a wide range of passengers, from young singles to retired couples, but mostly it’s families with toddlers, young kids & teens, as well as younger couples. It is not really a “singles party cruise line” even though they use the motif: “Fun Ship”.


Unlike some cruise lines, gratuities are not included in the fare. If your cabin stewards or waitstaff have been helpful, tip them! Go down to Guest Services and ask for a couple of envelopes that you can leave some Aussie dollars in. Hand these directly to the staff you wish to tip. They get to keep these tips for themselves, i.e. don’t have to share amongst others.

Continue reading my journal or click here to see other articles I’ve written about various destinations around the world!

Don’t hesitate to contact me for help planning & booking your next trip & let’s make your Holidays Beckon!

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