We boarded the Norwegian Spirit in Barcelona. We have been on this ship twice before, prior to its expansion and name change. The ship is the oldest in the Norwegian fleet. Though it is keep spotless and the staff is wonderful it still is an old ship and looks 'tired' in some areas.
Embarkation, was fine with little wait. Boarding in Barcelona after you check in and go through security there is some stores where you can buy wine and liquor. There is no further security checks, so after checking in you can buy wine and liquor for your stateroom. If you bring the wine to the dinning room there is a corkage fee ($ 10). Luggage was in our room in about one and a half hours upon boarding. I would suggest that you pack a bathing suit in your carry-on. The day was very hot and a quick swim would have been nice. The usual buffet was being served on the upper deck.
Cabin,was a standard one. The balcony was small (re: old ship). There was no refrigerator in the room (re: old ship). Room and bath were very clean and beds were nice and comfortable. The major issue for the cabin we were in (11556 and 11558) was that it was directly under the ships gym. The gym was open from 6am to 11pm everyday. At 6am the treadmills would start AND the free weights would bang to the floor. This went on pretty much all day into the night. So we were all up at 6am. Because we were in a new port almost everyday this was a problem BUT, if you wanted to take a nap, or go to bed early, that wasn't going to happen until 11pm.....every night ! It is my own fault for not checking out the deck plan prior to choosing my cabins. I would strongly suggest that before going on any ship look at the deck plan and see what is above your cabin. Again the placement of the gym over at least 8 cabins is evidence of an old ship.
Dinning: Food was fine. Not as much of a selection as we have had on other cruise lines or even prior Norwegian ships. Food that was offered was fine and well prepared. The Norwegian only offers the 'Free Style' dining. This was 'okay'..not great. There were 4 nights that we had to wait for seating a party of five. Also you have a new waiter each night and the service would vary from each one. At assigned seating you have the same waiter and bus boy who knows what your party likes and has it ready. So i am not a fan of the 'Free Style' only format. On our last two cruises (Princess) they offers both assigned seating and 'Any time dinning'. I did like the 'no formal' night format on the Spirit. We did go to three of the speciality restaurants. All were good, the steak and Asian ones were best, the Italian one was 'so,so'. There was an on deck BBQ most days which was excellent.
Entertainment: Because of visiting 8 ports in 12 days, we were tired most nights. We dd catch one show, again okay, but if you been on any cruises, it was girl singer, guy singer and then six dances. Nice, but been there and done that. On the other hand the bands that played poolside and in a couple of the lounges were great.
Ships port tours: we did the Provonce, France tour in Toulon which was very nice. In Florence we again did a ships tour to Pisa and then wine tasting in Tuscany. This is our second time doing this tour, it is great and I think only offered by Norwegian (I didn't see it any where else) by Pisa in the morning was great with the leaning tower, etc and then onto Tuscany for 'wine tasting' which is nothing like the wine tasting in Napa Valley. This is wine drinking along with a great 4 course lunch. Great tour if you have a chance. In the other ports were hired private tours which is the best thing I ever did. I will discuss these in the port review section.
Disembarkation: was done in Venice. This was HORRIBLE. The ship was in port over night so you would think that it would go smoothly. There was 'timed' exits scheduled. About every 15 minutes. Ours was at 9am, we had booked the ships transportation to the airport. I guessed that this would be the easiest way to get to the airport......wrong. We waited in a long line at 9am and 20 minutes later we left the ship. We got out luggage with no problem and then was directed to the transportation bus(s). We stood in line for 40 minutes waiting for the bus, which was there to be loaded and boarded. The company that was contracted by Norwegian to provide this transport had 8 (EIGHT) people standing there with clip board doing NOTHING !!! finally the bus started boarding and ONLY the bus driver was loading the bags underneath. He had to as several of the EIGHT people standing there (all young people) to move out of the way so he could do hi job. Had only a few of these people helped their bus driver we would have been on our way with only a slight delay. Has to be a better way to do this, at least USE some of these EIGHT people more effectively.
Last gripe is a usual one. People hoarding chairs around the pool (which there was only one small one....RE: OLD SHIP). This is a problem on all ships, there must be some way to deal with this. The other issue were young teens in the pool causing all kinds of horse play that lots of people did not go in or complained about there behavior. They also took over the hot tubs.
I know I sound more negative in this review, but I CHOSE this cruise...and ship because of the ports that were visited. If you want to see all these amazing ports and sights and have a nice floating hotel to come back to each night, then you can beat it. Or trip was great and if you take it I am sure yours will be also.