Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship: Overview and Things to Do

Planning a vacation on the fun ships? Here's our complete overview of the Carnival Spirit cruise ship, with what to do onboard and venues.

A little over two decades old, Carnival Spirit is one of Carnival Cruise Line’s older ships. However, despite her age, she still offers a lot of the facilities, venues and Carnival-classic fun that cruisers have come to associate with the brand.

Multiple dry docks and refurbishments have brought this ship up to modern standards, even if it’s not added on extra size or some of the flashy amenities that Carnival’s newest ships offer.

So, is Carnival Spirit a good pick for you and your family’s upcoming cruising adventure? Here’s everything you need to know.

Carnival Spirit Stats

While the ship is slightly smaller than the popular Conquest-class ships, in both gross tonnage and number of passenger decks, it can still hold a decent number of guests.

The number of crew members is slightly higher than the older Fantasy-class vessels. Carnival Spirit is by no means a big ship, and that’s because it’s designed to be able to sail through the Panama Canal and deal with harsher regions, such as Greenland.

  • Gross Tonnage: 88,500
  • Length: 963 feet
  • Decks: 12 (for passengers)
  • Staterooms: 1,062 (inclusive of suites)
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,124 (Double Occupancy)
  • Passenger Capacity: 2,680 (Maximum Capacity)
  • Crew Capacity: 930

Carnival Spirit Construction

The Spirit-class vessel was built at Kvaerner-Masa Yards in Helsinki, Finland, for the price tag of $375 million. Debuted on April 29, 2001, after being christened by Elizabeth Dole, a senator at the time, the ship took to itineraries in the Pacific, traveling between California and the Mexican Riviera, as well as to Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. 

Carnival Spirit was the very first ship to find a homebase outside of North America for the Carnival Cruise Line in late 2012, when it began serving the Australian market.

Later, the ship was planned to become the very first Carnival ship to be home-based in China, though that decision was later backtracked and the ship stayed in Australia. Over the COVID-19 pandemic, the ship was intended to move slightly and begin offering sailings from a new port in Australia, in Brisbane, but the pandemic halted those plans as well.

Carnival Spirit, Panama Canal
Photo Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority

Now, Carnival Spirit cruises in North America once again, from the American South in the winter and to Alaska in the summer.

As the first Spirit-class ship for Carnival Cruise Line specifically (the Spirit class does include a few earlier ships that are used elsewhere beneath the Carnival Corporation umbrella), Carnival Spirit kicked off the class and was followed by Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle.

All Spirit-class ships were built to pass through the Panama Canal and all the ships feature the smallest smoke stacks in the Carnival fleet. 

Carnival Spirit Refurbishments

Carnival Spirit has received an array of refurbishments over its long lifetime. Some of the most substantial took place in 2012, in San Francisco, when, for $7 million, Carnival added some well-known ship features to Carnival Spirit, including the Serenity adults-only area and the Waterworks water park.

Then, an even greater renovation took place in 2015, in Australia, for $44 million, really overhauling the ship and adding a lot of the venues that are now staples on all Carnival ships.

Carnival Spirit Refurbishment

These included Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, Bonsai Sushi, Skybox Sports Bar, Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Pub and Cherry on Top. As such, you can expect to see pretty much all the classic Carnival restaurants and venues on this ship.

In 2018, in Singapore, a few more enhancements were made, though nothing major and, most recently, in 2021, in Dubai, Carnival gave the ship a new hull design and paint scheme, as well as some routine maintenance. The next dry dock is scheduled for early 2025.

Staterooms

The wide range of staterooms aboard Carnival Spirit means that there are options for every type of traveler. The stateroom options break down as such:

  • 277 interior staterooms
  • 103 ocean view stateroom 
  • 632 balcony staterooms
  • 17 accessible staterooms

Staterooms come standard with amenities such as flat-screen televisions, in-room safes and non-stocked mini bars. Interior staterooms are either basic interior rooms or interior rooms with obstructed-view windows. You might prefer the latter if you’d like a little extra natural light, but you don’t want to pay for a full ocean view stateroom.

Carnival Spirit Balcony Cabin
Carnival Spirit Balcony Cabin (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

Regardless of which option you go with, expect a small space that’s suitable for one or two travelers, outfitted in décor reminiscent of a budget hotel, with lots of the orange and red hues that Carnival used excessively on its older ships.

There’s only one type of ocean view stateroom on this ship, which is a bit of a bummer, considering that Carnival offers some pretty amazing ocean view rooms on other, equally aged ships, with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows.

Regardless, with this option, you get more floor space than you’d find in an interior stateroom, plus a small rectangular window on one side of the room. There are several balcony staterooms available, including:

  • Classic balcony
  • Balcony with an obstructed view
  • Extended balcony
  • Aft-view extended balcony
  • Premium balcony
  • Premium balcony with an obstructed view

All of these options give you pretty much what they sound like. However, when you’re booking your stateroom, be sure not to book an obstructed-view balcony room, if you would prefer not to look at a lifeboat as you attempt to take in the sea views. 

Otherwise, if you book a balcony cabin, expect a very similar aesthetic to what you’ll find in all the other staterooms, with lots of orange, red, creams and gold accents. 

Suites

If you want something with a little more space and more amenities, you’ll want to book a suite for your Carnival Spirit cruise. While this ship does not have the all-VIP area newer cruise ships have, with private pools, decks, restaurants and more for suite guests only, it does offer 50 suites to pick from, including:

  • 6 grand suites
  • 32 ocean suites
  • 2 junior suites
  • 10 vista suites

All suites come with extra perks like priority check-in and boarding, priority main dining room meal assignments, priority debarkation and more. 

The junior suite offers a standard balcony, plenty of floorspace with a small table, a walk-in closet, whirlpool and other special features. The ocean suite features much of the same, but with a larger balcony. The grand suite is similar, too, but with a dressing area off the bathroom.

The vista suite offers even better views, thanks to its wall of windows in the bed area, as well as the wrap-around balcony. There’s plenty of space outdoors to spread out, lounge and soak up the sun, without ever leaving your cabin.

Worth Reading: Incredible Cruise Ships With Family Suites

It’s worth noting that all of these suites still feature that outdated décor style that’s found throughout the ship, and none of these suites are quite “suites” in the traditional sense, with more than one room. Instead, they’re just larger than a standard stateroom, with dedicated spaces taking up one larger space, for sitting, dining, etc.

Free Dining

Speaking of dining, you’re not likely to do much of that in your stateroom. Instead, you’ll find yourself flocking to the multiple free dining options on the ship. These include Carnival classics and expected favorites such as: 

  • Guy’s Burger Joint, for Guy Fieri-created menus
  • BlueIguana Cantina, for Mexican bites
  • The Empire Dining Room, the ships main dining room
  • Lido Marketplace, the buffet
  • Swirls, for quick and frosty treats
  • Sweet Spot, for tasty bites to satisfy your sweet tooth
Carnival Cruise Line Funderstruck Burger
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

While, yes, this isn’t a ton of options, at least not when you think about the number of complimentary dining options you might get on newer ships, consider that this ship is on the smaller side, so the number of restaurants is fitting.

Specialty Restaurants

If you find that you’re still hungry for more, consider visiting one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. There are a few to pick from, so, combined with your complimentary eats, it’s more than enough to get you through a trip. Options include: 

  • Nouveau, a steakhouse
  • Bonsai Sushi, for quick Japanese-inspired bites
  • RedFrog Pub, for pub-style fare with a twist
  • The Coffee Bar, for your favorite caffeinated beverages and light bites
Carnival Cruise Line RedFrog Pub
Carnival Cruise Line RedFrog Pub

In addition to these, you can also order room service for a slight fee, depending on what you purchase, as well as pizza delivery to just about anywhere on the ship. You can also pay extra for dining experiences such as a Suess-inspired breakfast for the kids, as well as The Chef’s Table, a chef-led dining experience with a limited guest list.

Bars and Lounges

There’s no shortage of great bars and lounges aboard Carnival Spirit. You can have a drink in your hands in seconds, no matter where you might be. Want a martini? You got it. Beer? Sure. Great wine selections? No problem. Plus, each different watering hole offers its own vibe and feel, so you can get a different experience at each. Your options will include:

Carnival Cruise Line's RedFrog Rum Bar
Carnival Cruise Line’s RedFrog Rum Bar
  • The Alchemy Bar, for magical mixology
  • RedFrog Rum Bar, for island vibes, live music and the drinks to match
  • BlueIguana Tequila Bar, for all your tequila-based beverages
  • The Piano Bar, for singing along to your favorite tunes
  • SkyBox Sports Bar, for drinks while you watch the big game
  • The Casino Bar, for libations while you try your luck

Activities and Entertainment

There’s always something fun happening on a Carnival cruise, no matter what ship you’re on. If you’re on a Carnival Spirit cruise, though, you can enjoy checking out the following:

Pools and Waterparks

Carnival’s own waterpark, WaterWorks, offers various heart-dropping water slides, to get your adrenaline pumping. The Splash Zone caters to kids who are under 11. The primary pools are great for all ages and, believe it or not, it is possible to find some spots that aren’t completely packed.

Carnival Spirit Deck
Photo By: Carnival Cruise Line

Serenity Adults-Only Retreat

If you need to chill by a pool without the kids, head to the ship’s adults-only pool zone, where the tone is very chill. Lay back on a lounger, enjoy a drink or a dip in the pool, and do it all far away from any splashing or screaming children.

The Spa

The ship’s spa offers all your favorite classic spa treatments in a relaxing setting. Just be aware that you can get the best spa deals if you wait to book your treatment on a shore day, when most of the cruisers will be out exploring. You can also get better spa deals if you wait until the end of your cruise to book a treatment.

Theater and Shows

Carnival Spirit hosts a rotating list of shows, but no matter when you take a Carnival Spirit cruise, you can be assured that the entertainment will be extravagantly well done.

The theater itself is gorgeously impressive, with an Egyptian motif, and the seating is highly comfortable, so you won’t find yourself itching to leave before the end of a show.

Mardi Gras Cruise Ship Game Show
Rendering: Carnival Cruise Line

And in addition to theatrical performances like musicals and plays, you can also find other activities that occasionally take place in the theater, such as game shows (Carnival’s Hasbro events are really popular with families!), comedy sets, lectures and seminars.

Fitness

If you want to get active in the traditional way, you can check out Carnival Spirit’s fitness center, or take to the popular outdoor jogging track (just note that the jogging track is most popular in the mornings, but for a good reason — the view is amazing!). 

However, if you’d like to get active in a non-traditional way, that’s an option, too. Head to the ship’s games and sports zone near the pool area, where you’ll find favorite competitive activities like miniature golf, ping pong and basketball, among others.

Daily Fun

There are lots of official entertainment venues across Carnival Spirit, but you don’t necessarily have to go to one of these official venues in order to have a great time. Wherever you happen to be, there’s always going to be something fun going on. Activities pop up all the time, so keep your eye out for everything from bingo games to trivia, comedy improv to dance classes, live music to poolside movies. 

Kids Venues

Carnival’s Camp Ocean caters to travelers 2 years old to 11 years old, and splits kids into toddler, elementary and pre-teen groups, with activities designed for each. Circle C is for kids 12 to 14 years old and Club O2 is for older teens. Better yet, all of these kids venues are free, with lots of non-stop programming. A babysitting service is further available until 1 a.m. every night.

Carnival Camp Ocean
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

If all of the above isn’t enough for your kids, there are loads of kid-specific activities they can try, too, throughout the ship. There’s a Build-a-Bear workshop, arts and crafts on the regular, gaming rooms and Dr. Seuss-themed activities and breakfasts. Kids will also love a trip to the on-board candy store and the 24/7 ice cream stand.

Carnival Spirit Itineraries

Carnival Spirit currently offers sailings primarily to Alaska and the Bahamas and Caribbean, from Seattle and Mobile, Alabama. However, you can find a range of itineraries offered on this ship, with durations to match every need, whether you just want to get away for a few days or for over a week.

Read Also: Carnival Onboard Credit – Ways to Use It

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Carnival Spirit refurbished?

Carnival Spirit has been refurbished several times over its life. The ship received refurbishments in 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2021. The ship has a scheduled dry dock in 2025, from January 30 to March 15.

What cruise ships are the same as Carnival Spirit?

Carnival Spirit is in the Carnival Spirit-class, which means that it is identical to Carnival Pride, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Legend. The Carnival Spirit-class ships were all built at the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard and share a unique funnel design that includes a skylight dome in the ships’ atriums. The ships also have the smallest funnels of all Carnival ships.

How many decks does the Carnival Spirit have?

The Carnival Spirit ship has 12 decks that are open to guests on the ship. Decks 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are reserved for staterooms. Decks 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 and 12 are social spaces, with drinks, dining and entertainment.

Final Thoughts

While Carnival Spirit is on the small side and its staterooms might be a tad outdated, Carnival has done an overall good job of ensuring that this 20-plus-years-old ship still provides lots for cruising families to love.

With classic Carnival brands on board, as well as plenty of fun activities to discover at all hours of the day, you’ll find you’ll hardly run out of things to do while sailing on Carnival Spirit.

Holly Riddle
Holly Riddle
Holly Riddle is a travel and food freelance writer whose work can be found in print and digital publications all around the world. She is additionally an entrepreneur specializing in content and marketing services. Beyond frequent travel, Riddle enjoys cooking, reading, camping and spending time with her husband and two dogs. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and just about anywhere in the Caribbean. Find out more about us here.

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