Cruising with kids on Carnival Spirit

Carnival Spirit docked at Circular Quay

Raffles, Sugarpuff and I are sitting by the Harbour waving our old friend and resident megaship, Carnival Spirit, out of Sydney. It’s been a wee while since our clan of clowns ran away to join her cruising circus but watching folk frolicking merrily on deck as she sails gracefully away has us reminiscing about our own shipboard shenanigans.

Arriving at Circular Quay to board Carnival Spirit

A cruise on Carnival Spirit had been sold to us as a holiday where every guest of every age can set their own pace. Now, given that on a scale of one to ten Raffles and Sugarpuff go to 11 on a quiet day, there’s no prizes for guessing at what speed we spent most of our time.

We also knew that our short cruise would only offer us to sample a few of Spirit’s many temptations so, once we’d unpacked in our stateroom which incidentally came complete with enormous balcony and bath tub (fist pump), we made a hit list to make sure we missed nothing.

CArnival Spirit's signature stack

Predictably with Raffles, that list included filling his stomach, a round of mini-golf, filling his stomach some more, hitting the pool, and stopping for ice-cream. In no specific order.

To get the obvious priority out-of-the-way we started our Carnival Spirit experience at La Playa Grill, the ship’s casual style buffet and just one of 20 restaurants and bars on board. We indulge in a slice or seven of the excellent made-to-order pizza and some barista-style coffee, for us of course, not the kids. Could you imagine adding caffeine to those two nutters, they’d become airborne.

After our leisurely lunch we stumble across a soft-serve machine and ticked another chocolate and vanilla flavoured must-do off my boy’s cruising bucket list. As an ice-cream fuelled Raffles kung-fu danced his way at high speed around the ship we happened to stumble across Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ, an open air American style char-grill. This proved a slight problem as we’d already eaten a small mountain of food. But it was irresistible so I grabbed a little of their pulled pork for a taste. It was good. So good in fact that my wee boy, whose spare stomach had already kicked in, insisted on a whole pulled-pork roll of his own and we watched on in gobsmacked awe as he devoured it … I swear that given the chance that kid could eat a hole in the space-time continuum.

The sparkling pool beckoned but a little digestion was required so we resisted its watery temptation and instead hit the 18-hole mini golf where I had my my arse handed to me by a 4-year old. Twice.

Mini-golf champ, Raffles, on Carnival Spirit

Humiliated by our mini-golf thrashing, we set off for Carnival Waterworks and the SplashZone area where we let both kids loose among the tangle of mini-slides and waterplay equipment while we plotted our parental revenge!

Raffles hits Carnival Spirit's SplashWorks

Something that proved easy when an unsuspecting Raffles copped a drenching from a giant tipping bucket full of water.

Post drenching in Carnival Spirit's Spash Zone.

The kids played happily for hours in the Splash Zone, slipping this way, sliding that way and generally enjoying the watery wonderland until it was mummy’s turn for a bit of wet and wild fun.

Fun for little ones on Carnival Spirit

You see, Carnival Spirit also boasts two twisty turny (and that was just my stomach after riding them) water slides including Green Thunder, the steepest and fastest water slide at sea.

While the kids are too small to take on Carnival Spirit’s star attraction (height restrictions apply on both slides), it’s up to me to take on the three seconds of heart pumping pant-soiling wow! The free falling, 65 km/h slide snakes out and over the side of the ship, yes over!

Having already shouted something that sounded eerily similar to ship when I first dropped into the bright green tube, by the time I’d hit the overwater bend my vocab had further deteriorated and the words pouring from my potty mouth rhymed more with luck, which incidentally is something I thought I’d run out of as my life flashed before my eyes in the slippery green tube of hell.

Shooting through Green Thunder on Carnival Spirit

By the time I’d reached the bottom the slide wasn’t the only thing rocking a vivid shade of green. But  it only took me about three seconds to decide to head back for another twisty turn. Which would also give me time to work our how to explain the new words my children had just learned from their foul mouthed parent.

All this and we hadn’t even set sail yet! When we did finally bid adieu to Sydney to the hooting of horns and the hollering of happy passengers we decided a change of pace was in order.

sailing out of Sydney Harbour on Carnival Spirit

After all that action, and given that I was still a little wobbly from all that slip sliding stuff, it was time to seek out a little of that zen they’d been talking about  and Camp Carnival (the ship’s kids club for two to fives) came to our rescue, spiriting away our children for some pre-school friendly fun.

Luck yeah!

We seize  the rare moment of childlessness and head for the Serenity deck.

Cocktails and sun lounges on Carnival Spirit

The open-air, child-free space gives parents (and non-parents) the opportunity to soak up the sun and cocktails from a day bed and enjoy 270-degree views of wherever they happen to be.

In actual peace!

No ship!

17 Comments on Cruising with kids on Carnival Spirit

  1. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    October 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm (11 years ago)

    Wow I have always wanted to do a cruise, since there seems to be so much for kids to do! Did your kids do most of these activities before even LEAVING the harbour – I can see the bridge in the background! So you’d recommend then? Do you have to pay more for kid’s club entry? Thanks for insight!

      October 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm (11 years ago)

      Yes Em, that was mostly before we even set sail! There is so much for kids to do on a cruise (we’re planning another) and food and kids clubs are all covered by the fare! 🙂

      • Have a laugh on me
        October 13, 2013 at 10:51 pm (11 years ago)

        I just have to convince hubby and we’re there!! x

  2. NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad)
    October 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm (11 years ago)

    MAN I so would be there – soaking it all in! A cruise ship is so the way to go with kids – both parents get time together and time alone while children have fun in the kids club – its the only way to have a relaxing holiday 🙂

      October 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm (11 years ago)

      And no unpacking at every stop! It really is made for families! 🙂

  3. Cooker and a Looker
    October 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm (11 years ago)

    I laughed when you’d already got up to so much and you hadn’t left port yet! Bearhands and I have talked about cruising with the kids, but we thought it’d be better to wait until they were a little older. You’ve got me rethinking that plan – looks like you all had a ball!

      October 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm (11 years ago)

      Little kids LOVE cruising, Amanda. My two love it! Carnival have excellent Kids Clubs for over 2’s and Royal Caribbean even offers a nursery for kids over 6 months on most ships so they are more little kid friendly than most resorts. There is so much to do you can hang out with them or send them (and yourself) on you own merry ways… which means you and Bearhands get to have as much fun as the girls. My only tip is to always book a cabin with a balcony because living quarters on board cruise ships (unless you’re in the presidential suite) are tight and it gives you somewhere to escape with a bottle of wine once the tots are asleep. 🙂

  4. Sally@Toddlers on Tour
    October 11, 2013 at 11:13 am (11 years ago)

    This one is on my bucket list for family travel.
    When I was a teenager my family went on a cruise – it was the best family holiday as there was something for everyone.

      October 17, 2013 at 11:33 am (11 years ago)

      There really is. Tot to teen!

  5. Leanne Winter
    October 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm (11 years ago)

    Aleney, you’re making it sound very good – I didn’t know cruise ships had waterslides! I’ve never done a cruise but a lot of people are telling me that they are the best family holiday ever. The problem is that I’m sure I would get off weighing 5 kilos more than when I got on.

      October 17, 2013 at 11:33 am (11 years ago)

      At least 5 kilos Leanne. The food is great on board 😉

  6. redlandcitygirl
    October 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm (11 years ago)

    We’ve been on a couple of cruises now and LOVE them. But there wasn’t any mini golf or waterslides on ours – ripped off!

      October 17, 2013 at 9:32 am (11 years ago)

      You’ll just have to go on another now 😉

  7. Grace
    October 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh, FUN! I didn’t realise there was so much to do on a cruise! I hope we get to go on one soon! The twinlets would love it!

      October 17, 2013 at 11:32 am (11 years ago)

      They would Grace. There is a crazy amount of stuff to do for everyone. Cruising is perfect for families.

  8. Bronnie
    October 17, 2013 at 11:43 am (11 years ago)

    Now that looks like a cruise I would actually go on … with plenty to entertain the kids and a place for me to get some peace and quiet. Awesome review! Now, when can we go?

      October 17, 2013 at 11:45 am (11 years ago)

      I vote for right now 🙂


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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