Embarkation: We arrived at the port at about 9:45 AM. We are a family of 5 adults: myself, husband and 3 adult kids ages 24, 22, and 19. 4 of us unloaded the luggage, and my husband went to park the car. We were dropped off at pier 90, took our luggage in to the terminal and were told that the ship was in pier 92 so we had to exit the terminal and walk with our luggage to pier 92. This was not difficult because there were 4 of us, but just be aware of which pier the ship is at and get dropped off there, to avoid this. (Cruiseclues.com has a great cruise schedule where you can find out which pier your ship is at).
It was really no big deal for us, and once in the correct terminal, we gave our luggage to the porter with a good tip and we were off to check in. We got in line and just as it was our turn my husband joined us to check in. This procedure was amazingly EASY and FAST. Our photos were taken, we received our ship cards and we were off upstairs to the Latitudes waiting area. We met up with 4 of our Beach Bum friends from Cruise Critic. We were on the ship before 12N.
We were told that our rooms would not be ready until 2 so we asked if we could drop off our carry-ons in our room, which they allowed us to do. We picked up a Freestyle and were off to a wonderful lunch with our family and 2 of our new cruise critic friends, Robb and Angela, (Bobar). We had a wonderful lunch, great table, #64 and great service.
After lunch we went to the reservation table set up in the atrium and made our dinner reservations for most of the week. We enjoyed our table in Windows for lunch so we made 7:30 reservations for Windows for the next 3 nights at table #64. On Tues, we had reservations for LeBistro and Thursday we made reservations for Tepanyaki. We then headed out to explore the ship a little, and checked in our rooms.
We had a balcony cabin, 9612, midship and our kids were in an inside cabin, directly across from ours, 9611. The location of our cabin was perfect, and very quiet and close to the elevator. The rooms were cozy but comfortable. Our room steward introduced himself to us, and although that was one of the only times we saw him, he and his assistant did a very good job making up our room, making us towel animals and kept things very comfortable for us.
It was off to our safety drill at 3:30, quick and easy. Sail away at the pool was cancelled due to the weather so we went to the Bier Garten on deck 13, and made the best of it as we started off on a wonderful cruise!! We had a couple of drinks and then went back to our room to unpack and get ready for dinner in Windows.
I had Prime Rib that was cooked to perfection, very tasty and very tender. I can't tell you what everyone else had but all of us enjoyed our meal. Again very good service. After dinner we went to the Welcome Aboard Show, it was okay, and I'll leave it at that. I think we went to Henry's afterwards for a short drink and then off to bed.
Once that ships starts to sail, it makes me sooo tired. I took a Bonine at lunch so that also made me tired as well. The bed was very comfortable, some feel it is hard but I like a firm mattress so I didn't take notice of it!!
Day 1 at Sea: We ordered room service for breakfast to be delivered at 8 Am. A couple minutes before 8 we received a phone call saying our breakfast was on its way. We ordered 2 pots of coffee due to a previous review suggesting us to do this, very good tip!! The coffee, croissants, rolls were all very good. This was just a starter, and then we went to Windows for a nice relaxing breakfast and again service and food was just fine. If you order the pancakes, I would suggest ordering a double order if you are hungry, they are very small but were perfect after having a roll in the room.
We then went to deck 13 just above the pool and stayed there for a while. The day started out gloomy and cool but eventually the sun came out, and it warmed up a little, not a perfect day, but we made the best of it. At 11:30 we had our meet and greet party at Henry's. This was very nice and we got to put faces to all of the people we have been talking to for many months. We also got to sign up for the Murder Mystery Dinner or for a lottery drawing to have dinner with the Captain and crew, which were both to be held on Wednesday. We opted for the Murder Mystery. At 2 PM the martini clinic was held at Champagne Charlie's. I attended this with my oldest son. I was, to say the least, a little tipsy, after about 7 delicious martinis. It was a lot of fun!!
Tonight was Optional Formal Night. We dressed up and had formal family portraits done. We ate in Windows at 7:30, at table #64, of course. I would highly recommend dinner reservations this night, as the lines got quite long. I had lobster and filet that was done medium rare, just the way I like it. The meal was delicious and the service again was wonderful. My husband and son both had Mahi, Mahi and they said that was delicious as well. I'm not good at remembering the desserts but they were all very good. We went to the 9:30 show, "On The Radio", it was again, okay!! Then we went to the Galaxy of the Stars for the New Years Eve Party at 10:30, and at 11:30, they did the new years countdown. A little confusing to us?? We had fun. Off to bed, just after midnight!!
Day 2, at Sea: The sun was shining when we woke up this AM, Yahoo!! We went for a walk around the ship checking out new places that we did not see previously. Yes, electricron, we saw the "dragon"...looks more like a dragon than a lion to me also!! Although we did not use the children's area pool, it looks like a lot of fun and is a real nice idea. We saw very few children around the "adult" pool. I was wondering if there were many kids on this cruise as we never saw many at all, not many teens for that matter either!! It was so nice hanging out by the pool most of the day with our new cruise critic friends, Angela, Robb, Susie and Kris...I really miss you guys!! When I woke up today I asked Steve if we could order room service and then I remembered it was back to reality...Okay, back to the review...We ate lunch at the BBQ, by the pool, and it was very good. Don't forget to try the pretzels in the Bier Garten, my mouth is watering for one right now, they are amazing!! Today was Margarita Tasting at the Bier Garten that I attended with my oldest son, and daughter. This was a lot of fun but if you have someone you could partner up with I would suggest doing this, as I could not drink that many icy drinks at one sitting!!
At 6:15 we went to Henry's Pub for Progressive Trivia, this was actually the second night but we were able to join in and this was a lot of fun. Our team was the Beach Bums. The bar server, Budhi, was fantastic. He will be on leave after this next cruise to go home to meet his new infant baby for the first time. He is so excited!! We had dinner at Windows again with Angela and Robb and then we attended the show, Ed Alonzo, which was very funny and we really enjoyed. We then went to 50's & 60's Sock Hop at Galaxy of the Stars, with Fusion Wave who were very good. Our kids went to Henry's Pub and enjoyed Corey Jones. Any time he was playing, they were there.
Day 3, St. Thomas: We arrived in St. Thomas at about 11:30. We went to lunch and then got ready for a fun day in the sun. Our family opted to catch a taxi, $9 each, and go to Coki Beach. This was a wonderful beach for snorkeling, but was a very small beach and got quite crowded. After a couple of hours there we decided to catch a taxi and go to Megan's Bay ($8 each from Coki to Megan's Bay). This is a beautiful beach with a nice bar and restaurant. We ordered a Pizza and it was delicious. We also had some very strong drinks!! We left there about 5 and headed back to the ship (another $8 each for taxi), we did make a pit stop at the liquor store in Havensight to buy a few bottles to take home, very inexpensive!! As stated previously, the shops do close down around 6 so if you want to shop make sure it is before this. We then went back to the ship where we stayed for the rest of the night.
We had dinner reservations for 8:30 at Le Bistro. This was a great meal. I again had Surf and Turf that was wonderful. We all enjoyed our dinners. Chocolate Fondue was wonderful, but I was honestly too full to really enjoy it!! We did not go to the show tonight but did hear from our "Beach Bum" buddies that they did not enjoy this show. Tonight was the Caribbean Deck Party by the pool. I tried so hard to stay awake at night but just can't seem to make it much past 11/12, that swaying just puts me right to sleep!! The ship was very steady in my opinion. I only took the Bonine the first couple nights and didn't need it until after we left Bermuda.
Day 4 Tortolla: Today we arrived in Tortolla at 7 AM. We went to breakfast and then we did the Virgin Gorda Swim and Snorkel excursion. You meet at the pool deck to collect your snorkel gear and vests. Due to some rougher water, we had to take a shuttle, about 5 minutes from the pier, to catch the catamaran. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the Bath's. We docked about 400 feet from The beach and swam/snorkeled to shore. We then went through the rocks/caves to Devil's Bay where we did some more snorkeling and then swam back to the Catamaran, that moved over to Devil's Bay side. The NCL staff, Amanda and her crew were wonderful. Very helpful, cheery and you could tell they really enjoyed their jobs!! This was a great excursion and I would highly recommend it. It did fill up, so if you think you want to do this excursion I would sign up online, before you cruise. We enjoyed this excursion with Robb, Angela, Susie and Kris.
Tonight was Murder Mystery Dinner Night. We met at 4:45 at the Stardust theater where they give you your directions and script. It was fun, dinner was in Windows. You are in teams of 8 people. We went to the 9:30 show, Seymour & Alfred, this was in my opinion the BEST show!! They were amazing, with a very nice message at the end of their act. Not to be missed show!! We then went to Henry's to hear Corey Jones and catch the last of his Dave Matthews Tribute. He is very talented.
Day 5, at Sea: Today we had breakfast and then went to our favorite spot by the pool, which is where we spent most of our days at sea! We had an early dinner at 5:30 at the Tepanyaki which was wonderful. We ate with Angela, Robb and another very nice couple (somewhere in the sun). We all enjoyed this dinner, and show!! We went to the 7:30 show, The Second City, they were pretty good but not my style of comedy. We then went to 80's Night Under the Stars, by the pool. We joined our fellow beach bum, Ronnie, who was having lots of fun, on the dance floor!! She made our night!! The girls then headed to Ship N' Males at Maharini's Nightclub, but only lasted for 3 dancers before calling it a night!!
Day 6, Bermuda: This was a very gloomy weather day but we made the best of it and lived up to our names, the Beach Bums by going to the Snorkel park after lunch, in the rain!! We started the day catching a ferry to Hamilton $8 round trip per person. You get your token when you get off the ship and it is a very short walk to where you catch the ferry. For $12 you can purchase a pass that you can use on the ferry's or busses, for the entire day. We only went to Hamilton and then came back for lunch and then went to the Snorkel Park that is about a 5-7 minute walk from the pier. This is a free park and has very good snorkeling. Due to the rain, it was not crowded at all!! It's not very big, so I can only imagine it must get very crowded on nice days. The fish we saw there were amazingly beautiful!! It is very rocky, so I would highly suggest water shoes. Our sail away party was moved from the rear of Raffles (due to rain) to the Galaxy of the Stars at 5 PM.
It was nice meeting up with "The Beach Bums", one last time. We had a nice group pix taken. We went to the early show at 7:30, Standing Room Only, that we enjoyed listening to some favorite show tunes. We had dinner reservations at 8:30 in the Garden Restaurant for 9 of us Beach Bums. This is the same menu as Windows. Nice restaurant but we all liked Windows better. Our server there Jocelyn, was wonderful, very friendly, and prompt. The meal was very good also. Honestly, I can't remember what we did after dinner, but I did take 2 Bonine so I was out of it very quickly.
Day 7, Sea Day: Our last day!! Again we spent most of the day by the pool relaxing. At 1:30 was the picture taking of the Choc. Buffet. We waited and went a little later after picture taking and only had to stand in line once (I'd recommend this, we still got some good pix, and only had to wait in line once.) The line moves very quickly once it starts. The chocolate was amazing!! This was the last of Progressive Trivia in. Henry's, NO, we didn't win, we don't even know what place we came in We missed a few sessions, so we didn't fare too well, but had lots of fun when we did go. We enjoyed hearing our favorite bar server, Budhi, sing, he is very talented and got a standing ovation!! We went to our "last supper" in Windows at about 6:45 without reservations and we were seated immediately. We then went to Galaxy of the Stars for The Weakest Link and the winner was ROBB!! This was a lot of fun!! We went to the 9:30 show, (only show of the night), very crowded. I would recommend getting there early as it was SRO. The show was Seymour & Alfred, and Ed Alonzo. Lots of fun!! Our family then went to Henry's but I went back early to finish packing to have our bags in the hall by 2AM.
Day 8, Disembarkation: We ordered room service for some coffee at 7 to watch, from our balcony, as we passed by the Statue of Liberty. It was quite windy and cool but we got some good pix. At 8 we all met at Raffles for breakfast and said goodbye to our new friends!! We went back to our room until about 10, when our color was called to disembark. We walked right off the ship, passed quickly through customs and then found our luggage with no problem at all. We headed for the freight elevator to the parking lot and we were parked right at pier 90, where the ship docked, so we didn't even have a walk, second parking space from the elevator. Left the city with very little traffic at all...And now BACK TO REALITY!!!
Overall: This was a wonderful cruise. I enjoyed meeting all of our Roll Call Buddies. I honestly and totally agree with Robb (Bobar) that this had to be a different ship than what I have heard previously from some reviews. There are still no trays in Raffles, but I knew this, and honestly the plates are huge, and this did not bother me at all, I only would have eaten more. There were never any lines, other than omelets and pasta, and even those moved rather quickly. I never even waited for the delicious waffles!! The food selection was large and I could always find something good to eat. I only ate at the Blue Lagoon once for a snack of some fried rice, and that was good. It always smelled wonderful when I walked through there. The service and food in Windows was wonderful, as were the Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. I honestly did not see a difference in food quality from the pay restaurants to Windows/Garden Restaurant. The ship was immaculate and the entire crew went out of their way to serve you. Even my young adult kids raved about the service they received from the crew. We all enjoyed it and would travel on the Spirit in a heartbeat!!