Norwegian Spirit is a beautiful ship that I have sailed on three times - Southern Caribbean out of New York in 2006, Western Caribbean out of New Orleans in August 2011 and now the Grand Mediterranean cruise out of Venice. I have sailed two other times on Norwegian, once each on Disney, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. The Grand Mediterranean itinerary is clearly the best of the nine cruises. Boarding the ship in Venice was easy, so was disembarking in Barcelona. The overall impression that I took away from the trip is that Norwegian has done an excellent job in focusing the staff on the experience s of their customers both aboard and on shore. Their smiles and winning attitudes are contagious and made a great trip even more enjoyable.
LAUNDRY SPECIALS : My wife (45), son (9) and I (60) traveled to Paris and Venice for a week prior to boarding the ship, so getting laundry done was essential to having fresh clothe in a summer climate (two days were close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit). On days 5 and 10 out of Venice, the ship ran a laundry special of $25 to wash and fold as much as you could stuff into an oversized paper bag. The laundry is returned two days later. By having ours in the bag in the morning, we got it back a bit sooner. With airline baggage limits, laundry service made it possible to travel lighter than usual without having to wear soiled clothes or wash them in the sink.
MEALS : We dined in Windows every day and never went to any of the upcharge restaurants (all of which we have dined in and enjoyed on prior cruises). The service in this main dining room is as brisk or slow as you want it to be. Most passengers seemed to go to Raffles (buffet restaurant) or upcharge restaurants. Windows was rarely, if ever, full. Lobster tails were served on the first and 11th nights and my wife had four each time and enjoyed them. Steak , chicken, salmon and pasta were always on the menu with another five or more changing entrees each dinner. Plenty of choice and the waiters encouraged us to mix and match side dishes with any entree. Very flexible and accommodating. We loved Kwasi, Santiago and Nieva among others - everyone was excellent. On days when we had early tours, we ordered room service (no extra charge but a tip) - fruit, juice, croissants, muffins, toast and coffee, tea, hot chocolate and other items. We could have run up to Raffles, but preferred a calmer start to the day. Blue Lagoon is great for tomato or wonton soups, chicken wings, burgers, fish and chips, salads and other snacks/light meals - and open continuously until you dock in Barcelona.
PORT TIMES: Return to the ship at least 30 minutes before sailing time or you may end up being left behind as about 10 passengers were in Rome when they failed to make it back to the ship. They had to make their way to Livorno on their own and stay in a hotel at their own expense. The Captain reminds passengers of this every day and times are posted in the Freestyle Daily. We took NCL excursions at every port but one and did not have to worry bout it. On Mykonos, we went on our own and regretted it. Mykonos has only 31 taxis on an island that was visited by five cruise ships the day we visited there. It took over one hour to get taxi to the beach (after taking an hour to get off the ship in a tender) and we were unable to get a taxi back even though the waiter from Puli at the beach at Aigus Ionnis (great beach across the water from Delos) called several times. The waiter drove us back to the port in time and refused to accept any money.
ENTERTAINMENT: There were shows in the theater every night but e only attended the Welcome Aboard , On Broadway and Soul Rockin Nights shows which we liked. We had sen Elements before and were not interested in the Magic, Vocal,David Meyer, Angels , Variety, Juggler, Flamenco, or Farewell Variety shows. In addition to these shows, there was great live music in Champagne Charlie's, Galaxya of the Stars and other venues aboard the ship. In addition, the ship offers over a dozen movies that rotate around the clock during the cruise. The new flat screen TVs in the cabin make it even better. KID'S CLUB : Our 9 year old son loved the club and spent more time in it than on any other cruise we have taken. Willy Wonka, Diamond and the other staff members kept it interesting and fun.
POOLS: There are two pools onboard - a kid's pool with two small slides plus a hot tub on a lower deck and another pool and four hot tubs that served everyone.
MAPS : Maps of each port are available upon request at Guest Services.
PASSPORTS: US citizens will have to leave your passport with the ship's staff for a week. Make a copy of your passport before leaving home so you can carry it ashore at each port.
CURRENCY and CREDIT CARDS: Let you bank and credit card company know you will be traveling abroad so that your ATM card and credit cards will not be frozen if you attempt to use hem abroad without prior notice. An easy call to make for our own convenience. Restaurants that let you use credit crds do not let you put tips on them - so bring Euros, too.