I travelled with my two sons, ages 14 & 11. I have been on a few other cruises, this is their 2nd cruise. We live in Ottawa, Ontario
We had a great time!
It was terrific leaving from NYC, I would definitely take another cruise out of NYC. I drove us down the day before and we stayed at the Sheraton on the Hudson. We left the hotel at 10:35 or so and got the ship by 10:45. Thank goodness I know my way around a bit in midtown! We had hoped to board a bit early, but they do not allow non US citizens to check in early. A tip: get a seat right near the front so when they open the desks for non US you can get checked in right away. They will take your passport til the end of the cruise (only non US). Last passengers were off the ship by 11:30 or so, so no one could really get on til about noon.
First impression: very beautiful and super clean! Lovely atrium! The ship is reasonably well laid out, we didn't have any trouble finding our way around.
Cabin: 9560 on the port side. Small, but very clean and efficient. Enough closet space for two people, or in our case one adult and two boys. Only four small drawers though. Loved the bathroom - the shower stall was great, sink area was a bit small so I stored toiletry bags under the counter area on the shelf.
We asked for 'egg crates' but they put on extra padding on the bed. We found the beds very comfortable. At night our room was like one big bed - two singles (very narrow - not full sized single beds - this is common on every cruise we have been on, so just a note to those of you who are very tall or wide) and the 'double' pull out couch (really an oversized single) when the couch was pulled out you could not open the balcony door. In the morning I made my son get out of bed and have him move over so I could get to the balcony. This is our second cruise with a balcony, I don't think I would ever like to go back to a regular outside cabin.
The only downside of the cabin was that in the evening we could hear the singer from Henry's pub - it was odd that we couldn't hear his guitar, just his voice. Not loud or anything, it was just there in the background.
Food: As soon as I got in the ship I booked the specialty restaurants.
Raffles court (buffet): Everything seemed ok at breakfast and lunch. Fresh and well tended. No trays. I am not a buffet fan at all, but travelling with boys, we went in the mornings. There was a good selection, usual stuff, bacon,sausage, eggs, cereal, yogurt and fresh fruit etc.
The breads and pastries are fantastic!!
Le Bistro: very good, lovely room and good service. They treated the boys very well.
Cagney's: Very good, regular steak house menu. The room had an asian theme, which is in keeping with the ship. The service was excellent, Michelle and Aileen were our servers and treated the boys very well. La Trattoria: good, limited pasta menu. Shalla was our server and was fantastic!
Teppanyaki: The highlight of the restaurants for us! lots of fun, there was a great group of people, including one other boy who chatted with my boys, and a travel agent who loved it so much she and husband had eaten there three times in the week. I can't remember the names of the servers and cook, but they were all fantastic. Oh, and the food was great too! Windows: a lovely dining room. The service ranged from very good to ok. The food was good overall.
Garden room: Very nice dining room, great service by Luis. The boys were treated very well yet again. We went on the formal night and it was very busy, but we got a beeper and were seated in less than half an hour.
Ports: I have been to all the ports so I didn't bother with the ships tours.
Port Canaveral: We took a cab to the Kennedy Space Center. We have all been there before, but it is a terrific place for history and science buffs. The cab was $10pp each way, with the entry fee $31 (or $38 or max pass) per adult (don't remember the kids rate sorry) it was much cheaper than the ship's tour ($69 per adult). We got to spend as much time as we wanted. Miami: south beach. $20 cab ride each way. I am not fond of Miami, so I wasn't interested in spending much time here. Traffic is awful and I didn't want to waste our day driving around anywhere. I have done the everglades tour etc here in the past, so that wasn't of interest to me.
Nassau: Not as many people asking us to take a cab or get our hair braided this time - what a relief. We walked over to the pirate museum (we have been there before) it is very good and informative. I think people rush through this place without appreciating the displays - take some time and read everything! We walked a few steps and took a jitney (small bus) to cable beach ($1 per person) and got off at the Wyndam. We sat under a palapa at the Nassau beach hotel and no on asked us anything, I thought someone would ask us to move, but no one came near us. The beach is ok there, you can rent jet skis and go parasailing.
Great Stirrup Cay: It has been a while since I have been here. I was warned by Nat at the kids club that it had been hit hard with a hurricane. Boy was she right. Very small beach now. It was crowded and there were few loungers, but lots of beach chairs and umbrellas. We had a burger etc for our lunch. It was a beautiful day, lots of sun & sand. The tenders hold 250 and there are two or three tenders, so it doesn't take long to clear the ship.
Sea days: My favourite. Go to the pool, read and relax. Explore the ship and sit on the balcony.
Kids club: My kids had a great time. My younger son (11) had a fantastic time. He met a few kids and hung around with them. The counselors were great. My older son (14) went to the teen club. There wasn't much in the way of organized events, but they seemed to hang out more. He met up with his buddies to hang out and play ping pong or basketball. There were 400 kids on the ship. It was our march break here in Ontario and a good number of the kids were Canadian. Almost all the counselors are Canadian, and if you want to do something nice for them, bring them coffee crisps, kit kats, smarties and cans of timmy's coffee.
This particular cruise also had about 800 college spring breakers. It was hard to get in the main pool and hot tubs. Good thing the kid's pool was quieter and had a hot tub. It was still crowded, but a bit easier to use. There was evident security on the ship and I am sure that kept some of the spring breakers from being too rowdy.
I only went to see Second City (I have been to Second City in Toronto so I knew what to expect) and I thought they were terrific. I also saw them on the adult night in the Galaxy of the Stars. It was a bit odd that the spring breakers were rude and inconsiderate, and would not stay put to watch/participate in the show, they kept milling around with drinks and it made it a bit difficult to see anything. Good thing there were seasoned performers and they took everything in their stride.
I didn't see any other shows or the choco buffet.
Overall we had a great time and would definitely sail the Spirit again. This is the first time I have done freestyle - my last NCL experience was on the Norway. I think freestyle works great with families or for those who don't like to stick to a routine. Freestyle was great for the boys and myself.