This was my first cruise, so I depended heavily on the Cruise Critic reviews, so I do want to give back. This ship and cruise line were chosen because of the itinerary and the desire to be in a casual environment. With so much to do in each port, the last hing we wanted to do is think about dressing up to go to dinner.
We arrived in Barcelona 6 days before departure. Barcelona is a beautiful city, with a nonstop nightlife. The hotel we stayed in was Hotel Jazz that also offered breakfast. Great place, clean, new and 2 blocks from Catalunya Plaza.
A quick cab ride to the peer on embarkation day took us to the terminal. The process was reasonably fast, and could have gone faster if there had not been two lines, with one line deciding they could just cut in. My recommendation would be to go to a single line. However, we were on the ship quickly, and our cabin was ready. A quick unpack of carry ons, and we went for lunch in Windows. What a great room. Lunch was tasty and service excellent, which really was the theme of this cruise.
The cabins on the Spirit have really been criticized on size, and they are small, but well laid out. Our home for the next few weeks suited us just fine. The bathroom was fantastic and well designed. Water pressure was excellent.
The layout of the ship made it easy to get around. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out how 2000+ passengers seemed to disappear. There were always quiet places, on the sun deck, lounges, etc. it was greatly appreciated.
Dining was spent mostly in Windows, but there were chances to visit the buffet (food was good but not my style of dining), le Bistro (excellent food and service), Cagney's (a lot of food and excellent service) and the Garden, which like windows had excellent food, though I got the impression it was lower staffed but they may have just been that way for the Jazz brunch.
Entertainment really was excellent. I was expecting some pretty corny stuff, but what I got were some well written and choreographed stage productions. Elements is a must see and kept the standing room only crowd spellbound. The rest were entertaining, though I missed seeing the magician.
In addition to the Jazz Brunch, we went to the Chef's Table. Great food, great wine parings and exceptional service.
All shore excursions were arranged through NCL except Toulon. There it was just a walk through town. Mykonos was cancelled on this trip due to weather, which strangely, was a relief. With all the other excursions I wanted another day of rest. The provider to NCL in Turkey was the best organized but all had good guides except in Pompei. The tour guide there was very poor, but there can always be a bad apple. Her incompetence did provide the group with many laughs for the rest of the cruise. We did appreciate the tours through NCL because it really left the cruise stress free.
The only blip in the cruise was with guest services. My first experience with them was to see if they had comment cards because i was so impressed with the staff and really wanted to capture my experiences. They seemed confused by my request, but did give me some Cruise Hero cards When I went to them next, when the excursion desk was closed, to share my experience about the poor tour guide, I was told in not the most friendly way that I would need to talk to the excursion desk when they open. The excursion desk listened well (I should note that we did not ask for money back,only to let them know of the poor Pompei tour guide). My final experience was to drop off my prepaid deposit form, which stated on the form it could go to the cruise consultant (closed) or guest services. The response was that "it would be easier for us if you wait and give it to the cruise consultant when she is back". Only after pointing to the form, did she grudgingly take it. After the amazing service, this was very surprising behavior from staff who should have the best service.
Disembarkation was simple in Venice; caught the People Mover to Roma Plaza and on to the hotel.
Overall, I was impressed with the staff, the ship was wonderful and I will cruise both NCL and the Spirit again.