My husband wanted a holiday ---- pronto! He was the one that came up with the idea of a cruise - something I have suggested before and he has dismissed! I was straight onto the Internet before he could change his mind! As he utterly hates having to get 'gussied up' for dinner, Cunard was out. The idea of NCL's Freestyle cruising was just the ticket. Booked up two weeks before the leaving date. Very good price indeed for a BA Mid-ship Balcony on Deck 10.
We stayed the night prior to departure in a hotel near the port. After breakfast, we took a taxi to the terminal. Loads of passengers milling around but everything was handled very efficiently and we were soon registered and being greeted as we stepped onboard with a warm welcome from crew members and a very acceptable glass of fizz!
We were directed to our cabin and our cases were waiting for us outside the door. The cabin was just great!! King size bed which proved to be very comfortable - we slept well for the entire trip. Plenty of space ( and hangers) in the wardrobe, with room for our cases at the bottom plus shelves and cubby holes. The ensuite was small but perfectly formed. Basin straight ahead on entry with shelving for toiletries etc, shower cubicle to the left (thankfully with a sliding door rather than a clingy curtain) and loo to the right. Everything was pristine! There was a flat screen TV above the minibar fridge and a little chest of drawers beneath that. A dressing table - with twin lights ( good for make up) also housed a small drawer for bits and bobs. Three power sockets here - one UK, one European and one -- can't remember what type. I had brought two universal adapters with me so no probs there.
Now to the cruise.
Food ---- great and plenty of it. Raffles, the buffet, has an amazing choice but, at bust times it can resemble a school cafeteria! The Garden is only open for dinner and is a nice place to go but Windows(open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) is even nicer! We breakfasted at Raffles each morning - for the vast choice - had a snack lunch at the Biergarten , and frequented Windows for our evening meal. The choice was very good overall though some moaned that the menu always looked the same. Well, there were always a few 'new' dishes on the menu each night so we had no complaints at all. We didn't try any of the cover charge restaurants - no need to !
Ports --- loved Madeira, ditto Santa Cruz and Malaga but I must admit that Arrecife didn't excite at all. Wouldn't go back there. We didn't take any of the organised tours, just did our own thing.
Entertainment --- there's loads to do on-board but we were there for a peaceful, relaxing time after a load of hard work in lousy winter weather so we didn't participate in any of the activities. The Stardust Theatre was great. Good shows and super comfy, large seats.
Staff -- absolutely wonderful!! They were so friendly, helpful and efficient. Genuinely happy and always smiling. Our cabin steward was super-great!! The cabin was kept immaculate and he showered towel animals on us - a little mouse, made out of a face cloth and perched on top if the toilet roll holder, gave me a bit of a start one night :)
Drinks on board --- very expensive. If you and your partner drink 5/6 drinks EACH per day then you should perhaps consider purchasing the Ultimate Beverage Package ( you can find out details of this and register for it when you board)At $49 plus 15%tax EACH per day, it isn't what you'd call cheap BUT a glass of wine (125ml size) will cost about $8 or $9 dollars plus the tax and a Gin and Tonic about the same and a bottle of beer is approx $6 again plus the 15%tax so --- you could get a nasty shock when you get your final bill. There's a Happy Hour - for two hours - each night in the Galaxy Bar and there's also a deal for bottles of beer. We opted for the UBP - so had no worries about totting up bar slips each night.
All in all we had the most wonderful time on-board the Spirit - we loved it SO much that we're off on her again in a couple of months time --- this time round the Med!!
Wherever you go, whichever company you sail with, I wish you Bon Voyage!!!!!