On the subject of FOOD on the Carnival Spirit
Twenty four hour Pizza was advertised, and fulfilled. Gourmet dinners were advertised and have lived up to their promise. Service is always with a smile and on a scale of one to ten, a ten. We always have two options for breakfast -- on the Lido Deck or in the main dining room. Same for lunch and same for dinner. The main dining room menu has always had at least five selections for appetizers, two for salads, five for the main course and several desert choices. Lobster, Filet Mignon, Veal, Prime Rib, Tiger Shrimp, Pacific Salmon, Quail, Duck, and various very elegant pastas were enjoyed by the four of us at our small table. Our next table neighbors were seen refusing an occasional dish that did not suit them for whatever reason and I noticed it was exchanged with an apology and a winning smile by our waiter. I brought the bottle of Merlot to our table on the last night and Luka, our waiter promptly brought the four wine glasses and pulled the cork with grace and great smile, poured the sample for my wife, and then for the rest of us. On the formal night we received a bottle of chilled champagne compliments of the Vacation Club. A nice touch.
During my lifetime I have had the good fortune to dine at four and five star restaurants such as Anton's in New Orleans, The Brown Palace in Denver, Tijuana's Country Club, The Ritz Carlton, and the like. I am rating our dining on the Carnival Spirit at that level. Perhaps there is a more limited variety of things one could ask our waiters, but whatever is within their reach was made available to us with a simple request. Most often, they would make the offer and we would either accept or reject. To me, this is a sign of true quality.
On the Lido deck 9 there are 9 distinct mini-buffets, the fruit bar, pizza bar, four breakfast/lunch bars one specialty bar, one oriental bar and the hamburger/steak/hot dog bar. The quality is good, but the appeal seems to be for those who measure good food and eating by the "all you can eat" mindset. The specialty bar offered Mexican fare one day and other national favorites on other days. The oriental bar was never short of sushi, sauces, wont-ton soups, sweet & sour and the like. There is always an ample supply of iced tea, lemonade, orange juice, coffee, decaf, chocolate and ice.
Some Statistics from the Carnival Spirit
2,400 passengers, among them are some 300 kids. A crew of 924 made up of people from over 70 countries speaking some 60 languages, all getting along just fine. Over half the crew are in food and beverage services from receiving product to cleaning up and everything in between. Crew members are recruited in Carnival Cruise offices all over the world, are sent to a four week Carnival University, then assigned to one ship or other for apprenticeship and then full crew status. They work six to seven months, then take a six-week vacation and if qualified, are assigned to another ship.
An observation: The inside cabins are dark and you never know when it's daylight or night by looking. So on our first cruise we kept the TV on to the forward looking camera which provided enough light to keep from stumbling. On this cruise we had the drapes pulled open all the time and enjoyed the view!
Jose and his helper, our cabin boys clean up and make the bed twice a day, once in the morning breakfast, and once during the evening meal. Mints and sculpted towel designs greeted us every night and were superb mood-lifters and smile-makers to end the day with. They also made it impossible for us to tell the purser to lower the $80 per person tip as "suggested" on our bill. What with Luka and his assistant, the other servers and crew, we got our money's worth, and more.