Norwegian Spirit - Bahamas: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by baristerbrawler
Overall Member Rating
Norwegian Spirit - Bahamas
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
I am not an experienced cruise person but I was with several of them. My only cruise before the Norwegian Spirit was 10+ years ago on Carnival during spring break. I am in my early thirties and single. I am a professional and all I was looking for was a relaxing vacation away from the stress of daily life. I give that useless information so the reader will understand my state of mind and cruising experience. Things that might annoy me, might not annoy you. Things I might be looking for on a cruise, you might not expect or want.
Embarkation -- It took an hour and half to get on board. Treated like cattle through the dingy New York Cruise Terminal. Told to wait in line after line after line. Security, check in, get your key, get a photo, etc. Not the way to start your cruise. I would advise not to be in a rush to board the ship arrive around 2 or 3 instead of 12 or 1 and you could More probably board with no problem after the early rush which is no fun anyway.
The crew was excellent. If you wanted something or had a problem they went out of their way to help. My only problem was the need to come into my cabin a second time at night to turn down my bed. I really dont need that. I would rather not be bothered.
The ship itself was extremely clean and well organized. My room was midship on the 5th deck. The cabin was small but adequate. The bathroom was decent size and had a very nice shower. I am 63, 185 pounds and I didnt feel crushed. All the rooms seemed to be about the same size as my inside cabin. I paid as little as possible for the room on the recommendation of my seasoned cruise buddies because they said outside cabins are just as small and you are never in the room anyway. For the most part they were right. When I was in my cabin, I could watch my 13 inch TV. It was little small for the room. The programming had a group of movies on channels 4 and 5. One channel had older movies while the other had new movies, just out on DVD or a little newer. These movies would be repeated throughout the cruise. They seemed to run the best movies at 6 PM and then again at 6 AM neither convenient for me most days. I watched Walk the Line and Family Stone in bits and parts over several days. I know during a cruise your not supposed to watch TV but how much eating and sun can handle. The rest of the channels had CNN, ESPN, TNT (does TNT show anything besides Law and Order and Charmed, ridiculous) and about 4 stations devoted Norwegian and the story about how they recycled waste.
Most of the restaurants are on 6th floor and 12th. With the Specialty restaurants on 7th Floor. To reach Windows restaurant I had to go to the 7th floor and go to the back staircase and walk down.
On the 13th deck was a basketball court, usually occupied by kids, and a nice driving range. There was a track around part of the ship but it was more for walking than running, not much room to get around people but nice. On the 12 deck was the library, mahjong room, and card room. These rooms were always quiet and not too crowded.
Galaxy of the stars was uncrowded during the day time and offered a pleasant view of the ship. 7th deck offered stores and ability to walk all the way around the ship. Almost a nicer less crowded place to walk than the 13th deck. The 12th deck had the gym which had many tread mills which were crowded every morning but no real weight machines or free weights. The two wave pools were filled when I went there to try them. People seemed to float in them rather than swim. The swimming pool area was extremely crowded with few seats by the pool. Often an area of total chaos. Even the seats on 13th deck facing the sun could be crowded. The Pool was small and often so crowded that floating and hitting elbows was about all you could do in it. The Jacuzzis most times had 8 or 9 people in them .I have a spa at home so it was not worth it to bump legs with 8 other people. I countered this by going into the pool and spa immediately after breakfast. At 8 in the morning the pool and Jacques were nearly empty. I would generally stay in the pool area until 11 when it started to get overwhelmingly crowded as the drunk parents and their children were unleashed from sleep.
Food -- We all know that is what we come on board to do. Luckily I am in good shape, well at least before this cruise. I am no culinary expert but here is what I thought.
After finally getting on board, the only place to eat was Raffles, the infamous buffet. Now I am not a culinary expert, I am more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. So I was not expecting the world from the buffet. But the buffet was packed with people, line after line again, and the choices were extremely limited. Hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, some kind of beef stew, cold cuts. Some of below average quality others decent. But that was only if you were lucky enough to get near them. With no place to sit except outside in the New York 40 degree weather. After the first day the buffet was much less crowded. But the menu did not change nearly enough. Same old Same old for Lunch and dinner. There was a salad bar which is nice but no croutons or bacon bits or most other accouterments. All there was to drink for lunch and diner was coffee, tea, and the worst iced tea I have ever tasted. Not Liptons, this had no sugar. If you have to drink it add lots of sugar and lemons. I notice after the first day a blue button which gave plain water. I was a little nervous about drinking it at first but it was very good and I drank that most times. I drink 90 percent water at home anyway. The water button was not labeled as water. I think they make the worst ice tea so you will buy alcohol or their soda from the cart. Raffles waste an entire area on stir fry. I like stir fry but an entire area for it with more ingredients that they had for other food is ridiculous use of space. Also you waited for ever to get the stir fry. The pasta at raffles was extremely good. There was often a line so I skipped it most days but when I got the pasta it was quite good. There is an ice cream station there as well and I was brought back ice cream from it but I have no idea where it was. Raffles breakfast was not bad. They had the same choice every day but that was not bad. They had everything imaginable for breakfast. Yogurt, French toast, cereal, bagels, bacon, etc. You could have an omelet made but there was often a line. My only complaint was that the eggs were always a little runny if you got them from the trays instead of waiting for an omelet and the sausage was kind of bland, but that is my personal taste. During breakfast you can get Cranberry Juice and Orange Juice along with water and tea and coffee. I recommend that you bring a container to store some orange juice or cranberry juice for latter in the day. They are there but some time not label. That is what the seasoned cruisers I was around did.
Windows, main restaurant, was available for lunch between 12-2 and 5:30-10 for dinner. Lunch was much more relaxed at Windows then Raffles, with better quality food. Windows had very few patrons for Lunch which was nice, no line and no crowds. Windows offered hot dog and hamburger everyday for lunch. For lunch they would also offer several different items every day, hot sandwiches and pastas, and a lot of seafood. Basically a full course meal with more lunch type main dish. Then menu was put out everyday at 11 in front of the restaurant. So you have to check to see what they have besides the hamburgers and hot dog. I would recommend going here for the more culinary acute rather than Raffles. Dinner at Windows was always excellent. The service was excellent though at times I felt a little rushed. The main dishes focused on seafood a little too much. I hate seafood and at times get sick when forced to it. Generally there was only one none seafood item on the menu which was a little disappointing. Steak and prime rib were offered the first two days and then disappeared from the menu the rest of the trip. Disappointing. Also the tables were a little too close together in some areas of the restaurant. I felt like I was intruding on several couples when are party was seated next to them. I felt the people at the next table were part of my conversation so I watched what I said very careful. Probably a good thing.
Freestyle cruising could also be call Freestyle waiting. My group ate early every night. One the first several nights we were practically the only people in the restaurant. If one at later around 6:30 or 8 their were often lines. People were not happy. If you were with a big party of say more than 6 than you needed a reservation to get into any restaurant. By the last night there was a line to get into Windows when it open because people were sick of waiting. Every was seated immediately but people wee arriving earlier and earlier to avoid the lines. It was weird often there was many empty tables but still there was a line to be seated when I left the restaurant between 6:45 and 7:15. The Garden is the second main restaurant. Basically the same story as Windows without the beautiful view out the windows. They shared the exact same menu. If you got a table at the back of windows the view was spectacular looking out at the empty sea.
The back of the ship, be it windows on the 6th deck or raffles on 12th deck had a strong vibration and noise from the engines. Probably all cabins in the back of the boat received the same noise and vibration. The vibrations was so strong the huge chandelier was shaking badly at the back of windows. I was glad I wasnt sitting underneath it.
The Italian restaurant is a divided portion of Raffles on the 12th deck at nighttime. The food was very good but the atmosphere was nonexistent. Being 63 and 185, high metabolism I am generally always hungry. I often asked for a second main dish. This was the only time I sometimes got a little bit of attitude from the staff. I understand they dont want to waste food or whatever but if I ask for it I want it. They would often try to talk me out of it, but if you insist they will bring, sometimes begrudgingly but they bring it. Ask for it up front when you order initially, they were rushing to get us out the last couple of nights when the lines got bad. The rest of my part would ask for 2 appetizers and they would have no problem but main dishes they were reluctant.
If you do not have kids I cannot recommend this cruise to Port Canaveral, Miami and Nassau. Out of the 2000 passengers on board the ship 500 were kids. I was told next week there would be 800. After that they were going to limit the number of kids to 500. More than 1 out of 4 passengers were under 18, most of the children on board were under 10. The children on board we running wild with very little control. The parents, many around my age or little older, just let there kids run around the ship unescorted. Or some even let their kids stay on board when they went into the ports. The one and only pool was swamped with children who could barely swim hanging onto the side of the pool for dear life. Other children were swimming with their parents using blow up swimming devices on their arms. I thought at times I was watching parents gone wild. Now I enjoy a drink or two but these parents were downing $9 drinks like water. I can only imagine their bar bills. Parents seemed to think the children were on a ship, nothing can happen to my kids let them run off and play. It was the parents time to scream and drink. If you have children you probably would enjoy the cruise as would your children. Anyone else specifically older people, they were complaining like crazy about the kids, will not enjoy being on this ship.
On the 10th deck there was a nice play area for the kids with a water slide and Jacuzzi, video game area and ping pong. I was tempted to invade their area like they invaded the adult pool area. The pool in the kids are was only a foot or 2 deep. The kids area was mostly for real young kids, say 7 and younger.
On the port days the ship was much less crowded and pool area was little more fun and usable. Ports Port Canaveral Many people took trips Disney World, Universal, (1 hour away) Sea World and Kennedy Space Center. I went to Kennedy space center. We rented a car, was picked up right outside the terminal and taken to get my car no problem. Make sure you get a good map if you rent a car, Avis did not supply one resulting in us getting lost in little bit. If you go to Orlando, already an hour away be careful the road are not well marked in Florida. Kennedy Space Center, not much there. Not really worth the 30 plus dollars charged for admission. Almost all films with a few building and old rockets. If you go, see the IMAX movies first. Imax films run only every hour or 2 and there are 3 of them. The Imax films seem like retreads of PBS specials but are cool with 3d on a big screen. The bus ride, avoid unless you want to be taken for a 2 hour ride you can not escape. We made the mistake of going on this first and could not get back to the main area for over 2 hours. All you see is the buildings in the distance a little bit closer and some movies on the bus. Then you stop climb the tower get on another bus stop go in a room and see another movie. See a big missile and then take another bus back to your starting point. Then you can get on another bus to some other part of the space center if you want. I skipped that part. After 2 hours of doing nothing on a bus I had had enough. Though I did see some crocodiles and some people saw the 20 year old bald eagle nest.
I have to also say that the Kennedy space center workers must be my follow new yorkers transplanted to Florida. KSC workers for the most part were obnoxious and not visitor friendly. Simple questions were greeted by unnecessarily nasty responses. After I heard them be nasty to people I suffered the bus tour from hell in silence and I was not happy. It scares me that the poor astronauts lives depend on the employees of NASA. If you bout the full access ticket you have the right to go to the astronaut hall of fame. But it is 6 miles away from the space center. Why I have no idea, that is what I call great planning but the nations smartest engineers. So I drove 6 miles to the hall of fame which had a lot of interactive things for kids. Smithsonian has better display of space memorabilia. Unless you have kids not worth it. Though Mars ride was fun.
If you ask me what Norwegian wants its passengers to do is 2 things 1 Drink alcohol 2 Gamble There were bars everywhere and always servers looking to get you a $9 cocktail or $4 or $5 beer. I was always asked do you want to see the wine list of minimum $30 bottles. Bottles I could pick up at my local liquor store for $7. But that is the way of resorts and cruise ships. I would love to have seen some of the cruise passengers bar bills at the end of the cruise. Sometimes I thought that NCL wanted to give you as little as possible to do so you would drink and gamble more. Gambling the casino was nicely laid out. It was casino need I say more. They take your money for a momentary thrill. I will never understand the attraction people have to gambling. To each their own.
The entertainment was good but they seemed a entertainer light. Repeated some of the performers too much, specifically Bob Turell, magician. He was okay but the 3rd time you see him give me a break. Ventriloquist twice. Funny slightly the first time but then again. Please. The best entertainment came from a group of singers who performed on the radio(popular songs) and standing room only (Broadway songs). They were outstanding, maybe the best part of the trip and I dont even like musical performances and never go to Broadway even though I live 15 minutes away. Bands like fusion, a Latin band and others only seemed to perform in the bars at night and maybe once at the pool. I would rather have seen them perform on the big stage than the magician and ventriloquist for the 2nd and 3rd time. The cruise director was fine but not overly bubbly but good. Most of the NCL staff seemed efficient and helpful but not overly friendly and talkative. I thought the Captain was more funny than 2nd city comedy troupe who performed at the Stardust, main stage. 2nd city was mildly amusing, better than the ventriloquist and magician on their 2nd and 3rd performances. I also saw the Newlywed game done by passengers in the galaxy of the stars hosted by the cruise director, it was funny but some of the questions were lame. I also saw the performance of the crew talent show, also better than the magician and ventriloquist for the 2nd and 3rd time.
For the few single guys out there who may read this review I have to right my single guy report. If you are under 18, could be fun lots of young girls with their parents. Plenty of kids hanging out. If you are in your early 20s maybe fun, lots of women with their parents and depending on the time of year spring breakers. I was told the week before my trip 50 percent or more of the cruise was booked by spring breakers. If you were single in your early 30s like me not much was there. Lots of young married couples, families, and college girls talking to me how they spent 6 straight hours in the Jacuzzi or how much they drank the night before. Not interested, past that. Some of the best looking women on the ship were the waitresses in Windows.
Disembarkation -- If you could carry your own bags early disembarkation was available. I was looking forward to get off the ship at this point so I carried my own bags which was a little bit of a hassle. Had to carry them from midship to end of a line on the 7th floor. Very crowded with people which made it hard to get through and then of course people were trying to cut the line . Spirit lines and then more lines. But once the line started moving the line moved very quickly and we breezed through. I was told it was the easiest disembarkation ever by the seasoned cruisers. Less