I have decided that cruises are one of the best holidays you can have!
We have just had a cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit and stopped at Mare, Noumea and Lifou in New Caledonia and Port Vila, Vanuatu – it was amazing! The thing with cruising is most things are included. You can pretty much eat anytime you want and there are always lots of things to do.
Each day you get a guide on all the activities happening during the day and night and all you have to do is show up to be a part of the fun. To keep the kids entertained there are Kids Clubs – Camp Ocean is for kids aged 2-11 years, Camp Carnival has lots of activities for kids in three different age groups: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years, and 9 to 11 years – Circle C is for kids aged 12-14 years and Club 02 is for teens. For kids with disability, you can access the Kids Club using the specialised chair lift, which takes you straight to the fun.
Apart from the clubs, you really need to make sure you try the Water Works and in particular the Green Thunder – it is an amazing waterslide that juts out past the ship, so for a few seconds, you are flying over the water! It is so much fun seeing the faces of people when the floor disappears under their feet and they go flying down the slide. I had so much fun on the slide, but you should climb the stairs to take a 360 degree photo of the boat and all the water; just make sure you hang on because it gets a bit windy up there!
At night we watched the ‘Dive in Movies’ under the stars at the pool deck. It was surprisingly cool but they give you nice warm blankets and a bucket of popcorn. The Techno arcade is the place to go when you want to have some arcade fun – there are lots of prize machines and some kids won a few prizes. I tried but only won one rubber duck! For people wanting to spend more time outside, you can play basketball, mini-golf or just hang by the pool and watch the entertainment on the big screen.
Each day our cabin crew would leave an animal made out of towels in the room, they were amazing and I often pulled them apart so I could work out how to make them. I wasn’t very successful getting them back together again so I took a class at the towel animal workshop, it was great and lots of fun … but I still can’t successfully make a towel animal!
Dr Seuss is a big thing on the Carnival Spirit and we had the chance to try the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast – the food was straight out of the Dr Seuss book and the characters came in to have photos. it was lots of fun and my waffles looked so good I didn’t want to eat them … but I did!!
There are so many places to eat on the Carnival Spirit that you have as much fun deciding on the place to eat, as you do eating all the great food! We loved Guys Burger Joint for lunch – you can pretty much put whatever you want on your burger and they even have a bacon patty that sits on top of your meat patty. The chili sauce is yum and the chips have a bit of spice to them as well. If you don’t want burgers, you can make your own pizza, try Fat Jimmy’s C-side BBQ or grab a plate and check out all the food options in the food hall – there really is something for everyone.
We were lucky enough to be able to stay in the suite modified for people with disability. It was huge and designed perfectly for someone with special needs. The room had a wide automatic door for entry and exit; lowered shelving in the cupboard and the clearance under the bed was 30 cm, so there was plenty of room for a lifter. The room also has emergency call buttons to alert staff if help is required.
The cabin had a king size bed and a queen fold out bed, so there was enough room for a family of four. The bathroom was huge, with plenty of room to allow a person in a wheelchair to manoeuvre and the balcony had a wide door and a ramp to allow everyone to enjoy the views of the ocean. Carnival obviously realised how important it is for everyone to be included in the family holiday – how great is that!
Our beds were so comfortable and for the times when you just want to sit in your room to take a break, there is a kids movie channel option on the TV.
I have to be honest and say the Wi-Fi on the ship is not the best, but you are floating in the middle of the ocean, so just getting Wi-Fi is a bonus. But there is so much to do on the ship that you really don’t need Wi-Fi and its actually nice being able to just meet new people and get away from the internet for a while.
The crew on the ship is amazing and everyone is really friendly and makes a point to remember your name – so different from many hotels we go to when kids may as well be invisible.
The thing I like about cruises is there is something for everyone to do and everyone feels part of the fun. If you want to relax, you can and if you want to fill your day with lots to do, there is a whole list of activities available.
We did a few tours at the various stopovers and the people we met were all really happy and friendly. They loved to show you their village and share some of their culture and they have the most beautiful beaches with amazing marine life. On one tour, the water was so clear we could see the fish swimming around … it was amazing!
Carnival Cruises have made cruising an affordable and fun option for families and their focus on inclusion for people with disability means family holidays overseas can be a reality for everyone. I asked a man on the cruise in a wheelchair if he would recommend a cruise to other people in wheelchairs and he said this is the holiday he takes with his family every year because it is just easy and comfortable for him.
While airlines are slow to change how they support people with significant physical needs to travel in comfort, cruises are making it easier and affordable. If you want an inclusive but fun and affordable holiday, a cruise might be just the thing for you!
– Bella Tipping