We were on the 5/14 cruise and had a very good time aboard the beautiful Spirit of the Seas! The ship is gorgeous and immaculate. The staff was always friendly and willing to do anything within their power to make your cruise a special one.
Embarkation was a nightmare! We stood in line with 6000 people (there were three ships in port) and it took us 2.5 hours to go through security and immigration. Lots and lots of complaints were heard all around! Many people were stating that they cruise often and had never gone through anything like this before. I guess that the first cruises of the season caught the port staff unaware...because it was a giant mess. I hope that they figure out how to make it much better as the season goes on. Here's my advice...GO EARLY. The folks that showed up at 11:30 am were on the ship by the time the rush hit. By the time we finally got to the check in for Norwegian, it was a breeze. They were efficient and apologetic and made things quick and smooth from that point on. We missed the muster drill and had to do a make up drill on Sunday morning, along with hundreds of others.
It (the weather) was very warm! I ended up buying T-shirts so that I could be comfortable as all that I brought was clothes for cooler weather. It rained a bit in Ketchikan, but Juneau and Skagway were very warm...over 70 degrees.
My only complaint was on the Chocolate Buffet, which was very poorly organized. We never got to see it, much less eat any of it. The doors were open for one hour..if you were not willing to wait in line for over an hour, you didn't get to go. I hope that they change this for the future...a buffet in the performance theater did not work well. We were told by two separate staff members that it was open for photos a half hour before. No such deal.
The beds were not hard to me. I slept like a baby. I enjoyed the comforter..it was cozy. I did not notice our room to be smoky. The Galaxy could be smoky and times and the casino, when busy, is smoky. Aren't they all?? (except in the non smoking section, of which this casino has none) I won $450 on a penny machine!! I thought that the casino was pretty loose and the machines kept me playing quite a long time.
The food was awesome. We did not feel the need to pay to eat in any of the specialty restaurants but enjoyed each meal. Raffles is a buffet..and as buffet's go, it was fine. I loved their waffles...nummy. My husband enjoyed the dessert table and the made to order omelettes. We alternated between the Garden restaurant and Windows each night. I think that I preferred the Garden as it was a bit more intimate...but they had the same menu and both were very good. If you sit up near the beautiful windows in Window's dining room, you do feel and hear the vibration quite a lot. The rougher the seas, the worse it is. It was nice that there were always 'light' choices for those that were trying to watch their calorie intake. Some of them were better than the more fattening ones, in my opinion. On Italian night..make sure you have the Italian Almond Cake! It was delicious!
The entertainment was so-so compared to the other cruise that I went on with Royal Caribbean. They had the same comedian nearly every night and he was ok..but not outstanding. The juggler was awesome. The staff singer dancer group was good, but my husband doesn't like that sort of thing, so we didn't see much of them. We also did not see the special singer.
I felt that the Catamaran Misty Fjord's cruise was over priced, although it was nice. It seemed too much like home to us (Oregon) We did see some orca whales, one humpback tail and a pod of Dall Dolphins...and lots and lots of eagles. We walked to the Totem pole park and it was a disappointment to say the least. At least we didn't have to pay to get into it.
In Juneau, we had a blast! We took the Roberts Tram up to the top of the mountain and did some hiking up there. Beautiful! In the afternoon we did the sea kayaking at Mendenhall Glacier. We had a lovely day and enjoyed it so very much!
Skagway was also lots of fun for us. We rented a car from Avis and drove to Whitehorse, YK. We were spellbound with the pristine beauty of White Pass. You can stand at the scenic view spots and be amazed when you realize that there are no resorts, no vacation homes, no restaurants and even no gas stations! It is totally unspoiled and just breathtaking! We had the world's best halibut fish and chips in Whitehorse...and then hiked on a trail at Mile's Canyon on the Yukon River. On the way back to the return the rental car we stopped at the old Skagway cemetery and hiked up to Reed Falls. Gorgeous! The cemetery was also very interesting..to read the stories that are posted on the board at the entrance....lots of history! Most of the people died very young.
We got up early and watched at our balcony as we entered Tracy Arm. An ice burg here..and one there..and all of a sudden..there are tons of them! The blue color is brilliant. We never saw a seal on one of them, nor any wildlife up in that area, other than sea birds. As stated before, we didn't get too close to the glacier, but we could see it. I was glad that we had seen Mendenhall so that we had a good idea in our heads of what the glacier would look like.
Back out to open sea caused a lot of rocking and rolling of the ship. My hubby got seasick and spent most of the day horizontal on Friday. (Please note that he will not take any medicine to combat this...I took the little tablets and was fine..he prefers not to take any meds..not even aspirin!) So..he was not feeling well most of the day but it did settle down in the evening.
We loved freestyle! We would cruise Norwegian again when the opportunity presents itself. Re: upgrades. We met several people that had booked just a couple of weeks before cruising that got upgraded to suites! I mean..the Owners Suite and another whoopee suite. Neither had cruised with Norwegian before and they had booked a GTY balcony! I will never book a cruise early again. We paid twice as much money by booking in January and we paid in full and booked on our own without a travel agent, which means that we were just out of luck. That was pretty frustrating but we tried not to dwell on it.
And finally...about the Meeting place for our Cruise Critic meeting. I had emailed three separate times about getting a meeting place and never heard back from the staff. On Saturday evening, my phone rang and it was one of the staff saying that they had our meeting room reserved! I did not have a chance to tell everyone by phone, but we just caught them as they were coming to Champagne Charlie's, where we had originally agreed to meet and directed them to our meeting room, which was right around the corner. We were greeted by Mike, the cruise director and were joined by the head honcho Food Director and his asst. as well as the head Hotel Director. They all stayed for the entire hour, visiting with us. They were in full dress uniform. (well....not Mike..but the others) The provided us with cookies and coffee and juice. All but one couple showed up...it was just great! Thanks so much Spirit Staff!!
Disembarking was smooth and quick. They started at 8:15..and my guess is that they were done by 9:20 or so. We were in the 2nd to last group to be called and we were off the ship by 9:10. Very smooth..no problems.