Norwegian Spirit Mediterranean Cruise
Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
We sailed on the Norwegian Spirit out of Barcelona on Oct 12, 2012. When arriving at the embarkation point the staff of the Spirit were there to cheerfully greet us and usher us on our way to the start of a fantastic vacation. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) are noted for their "freestyle cruising". Being a first time cruiser this did not mean a lot to me at the time but I have to say it definitely fit my lifestyle. Not one who likes to dress in fancy clothes and sit with people I don't know to make stilted conversation, NCL is my best fit. Freestyle cruising, you do not have assigned seating, you can eat when you want, where you want and the only rule is you must wear long pants. Respectable jeans are allowed. You can certainly dress up if you like, lots of people were dressed up and the have dress up or not nights. Life Safety drill was done before leaving port.
Our room was mid-ship balcony - port side. Everyone says the balconies are small, my question - what are you More
doing on the balcony - how much bigger do you want it? The balcony was fine, the room is fine and the bathroom is great. I have been in smaller rooms in hotels in NYC. We did not spend a lot of time hanging out in our room or on the balcony of our room.
The food was great, in all the venues. We ate at the buffet, dining rooms, ordered pizza, ate wings and salad - we never had a bad meal on this cruise.
The ship is meticulously clean, service in the dining rooms, buffet venue, and bars are 10 out of 10. Service in the casino is a 6 out of 10, lots of time there was no one at the desk, and you would wait forever for a waiter to come around to take your order, (no the drinks are not free for most) - I think if you are a big player or have some kind of status you can get free drinks.
The evening shows were amazing, great entertainment.
Arriving at all the ports and exiting the ship was not a problem, line ups that maybe took 5 mins if that before you were off the ship.
We opted to do the tours with private companies and did not do any NCL tours, so I cannot comment on NCL arranged tours.
Disembarkation day was fine, you were given a colour and your colour corresponded with a time you were to disembark. No problems there.
The friendly, cheerful staff, freestyle dining and cruising (if you bought a drink in one bar you can take it to another) was definitely a hit with us and we would cruise NCL again. Less
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Cabin review: BB9578
Never having been on a cruise before I did not know what to expect for a cabin. The cabin was great. I am a fussy person and I had no issues with this cabin. Space was big enough for a king sized bed and a 3/4 couch/futon, desk, chair and built in dresser. Closet space was great, lots of hangers and my husband discovered that the suitcases fit under the bed - great discovery as that left lots of room in the closet for shoes, backpacks and parcels.
The bed was super comfortable.
The balcony - everyone says it is small. I found it fine. I used it every morning and every evening to have my coffee and fresh air break on. I don't know why people want a large balcony - for the 15 mins a day you spend on it, why do u need it any larger? The ship provides lots of space for sunbathing, quiet rooms, etc. For me the balcony was great.
Bathroom was fantastic. You walked in to the sink area, on the right with a sliding door was the toilet and on the left with a sliding door was the shower. It was a good size.
Our location mid-ship/balcony was quiet. Rarely heard hall noises and definitely heard no noise from other rooms. We were across from a small crew area but again no noise what so ever.
Port and Shore Excursions
Our tour operator met us at the ship and gave us a great tour of the city, Acropolis, brought us to a fantastic place for lunch, brought us to the Mediterranean so we could stick our foot in and see how warm the water was. We toured Sounion - which was great timing - no one at Poseidon's temple but the 4 of us.
Our tour operator met us at the airport. We picked up another couple at their hotel in Barcelona and we were given a great tour of the city and the highlights of Barcelona. Our driver/tour guide was wonderful.
Our tour guide provided us with an explanation of where to walk and what to see while walking. It was some great time on our own to explore and discover Florence.
Excellent viewing, explanation provided by our tour guide/driver.
Our tour guide, Laura met us at the ship. She was excellent! Laura explained everything to us about Pisa, even took us to the "other leaning tower" in Pisa. On the way to Florence she talked about the agriculture, the manufacturing, Tuscany, wines, pasta. Laura brought us to a great place for lunch among the market stalls in Florence - with absolutely amazing food.
Unfortunately for us, we were there on a Monday so we did not get to go into any museums.
We did this on our own and it is an amazing city. The Grand Bazaar - Like the West Edmonton Mall of Canada - not fussy about it.
Istanbul is easy enough to get around in on your own, all the books said this and it is true. We did it on our own with a taxi driver and it was great.
Archaeological Site of Ephesus
Absolutely amazing, the tour of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, wow, what history. Ephesus really leaves you speechless.
A very touching experience. Unlike the Sistine chapel, this was a well respected holy place. Very moving experience.
Carmine 2 as we called him was our tour guide through Pompeii. He was excellent. Very knowledgeable and really is everything you want in a tour guide. "Take your time but Hurry" was his motto and that was perfect for us as we walked through Pompeii. Through Carmine's explanations he was able to give us a fantastic picture of what life was like in Pompeii.
Our driver/tour guide Carmine was absolutely fantastic. He set up our day to avoid crowds - perfect - and brought us halfway up the Amalfi Coast (Carmine's coast) to have lunch. Carmine showed us an olive oil operation, brought us to the most amazing place for lunch of antipasto, pastas, wine, water and dessert. With a breathtaking view and then on our way back to the ship, Carmine stops for a minute, ducks into a store and brings us all out a gelato. How perfect is that!!!! He loved his country and all that it has to offer and he was really the perfect tour guide. Anyone who is lucky enough to have Carmine drive them around Naples and the Amalfi coast is blessed. All of us agreed (8 of us) we couldn't have had a more perfect day.
WOW - it is breathtaking.
the disappointment with the Sistine chapel has nothing to do with our tour guide or tour operator. The disappointment is with the people who were in this church, talking out loud, taking pictures when both are clearly disallowed. Besides having this information - NO Talking, NO pictures allowed published in every language imaginable, they also played a recording. People continued to talk and take pictures the whole time. You could not sit and revel in the beauty and history with hundreds of people being so disrespectful. Even other tour guides going in with their crowd of 50 plus people and talking inside the chapel.
Our tour guide explained everything to us outside the chapel and then met us outside the chapel when we were done.
Our driver/tour guide met us at the ship. Maurizio, gave us a good explanation of what we would be seeing and set up our day so it would have a good flow. He arranged lunch for us at a local eatery and the food was fantastic. Unfortunately our ship docked late due to some issue at the Rome port so this really cut into our time in Rome. There is soooooo much to see in Rome that 8 hours does not do it justice. Our driver/tour guide showed us as much as he could with the time allowed we were rushed but he brought us to all the highlights of the city and returned us to the port in time - even accommodating us with a request to stop for gelato.
Vatican museums are priceless. So, so much to see. Our tour guide, Lisa, was excellent.
We did Venice on our own. Our biggest problem was figuring out the water bus ticket. Wow, 8 educated adults and we could not figure that out. Oh well, we got to where we wanted to go, however, 4 of the group bought a different ticket so we ended up being separated. Venice is as romantic and enjoyable as you can imagine. It was relaxing, inviting, we got lost walking around - as suggested - a perfect ending to a great trip.