This was my first NCL cruise and 12th cruise over-all. Comparing cruise lines and/or vessels is truly like comparing apples and oranges. In 11 previous trips only 1 was horrific and this cruise on Norwegian Spirit was the 2nd Best over All. The only thing stopping it from being #1 was the 18% gratuity in the less than adequate Spa and the cost of take home duty free liquor.
For point of reference I am a divorced woman from Canada, traveling with a friend in my 40's.
We had a great holiday ever, and most cruisers that we met were happy with the Free Style concept, on Dress Up or Not Night -- we Dressed UP.,
On embarkation in Barcelona was one of the smoothest ever, once you had made it past the Guardia Civila -- Not a smile or speed in the X-ray line. 180 degree change once you passed into NCL's care, Warm, welcoming and speedy. Barcelona's cruise terminal is large, , and very impressive, there are so many counters open that they can take care of every one at the same time. Airports could take a lesson, The disembarkation was just as smooth and we were on our way to the airport before 8:30am.
Norwegian Spirit is a beautiful, very clean brilliant combination of understated elegance and room-to-roam., The interior decoration is an eclectic combination but very impressive. Everything seems to flow very smoothly. The Norwegian Spirit simply works.
I usually get an upper deck inside, since we knew that we would spend very little time in our cabin .The cabin had the largest bathrooms I've had in an inside cabin. I liked the dispensers of high end bath gel and shampoo in the shower. The beds were 2 twins with a night stand in between,, nice flat screen TV, only European channels, A ,wide chair that converts into a bed , make-up desk and mini bar.as well.
The beds were just right amount of soft and comfortable, and it was easy to adjust the temperature of the cabin.
Cabin Steward was good, not great. A little to him self. Not so much fun as others on other ships. Did make cute towel animals each night. Loved the dragon, even had red eyes.
The food was never ending, even snacks in the casino, and never left you wanting anything. The main restaurants and buffet were more than adequate; I am now addicted to Chocolate Raspberry Cake served in the two main dining rooms . The food selection was wonderful, and the quality was never an issue. Both the two main rooms, and the Raffles buffet restaurant always had plenty of room and not once did we have to wait to be seated in the restaurant or have difficulty finding a table. In the buffet. Might be because we never ate breakfast before 9am and had dinner after 8 each evening. Several times we were given free drinks that were not for the faint of heart very generous serving. . The drink prices were the highest we had ever experienced on a ship, Other than the 2 for 1 at Happy Hour in the 12th deck Galaxy of the Stars. If you enjoy adult beverages all day long then buying. The All inclusive "Ultimate Beverage Package" would save you lots of money..
When I read this tread I wonder what ship some reviewers were on? There was so much entertainment we often had to make a choice among offerings... The Spirit has one large Stardust theatre, which limited the number of production shows. But had many venues for music, contests, trivia, etc.
The gym, spa pools, and adult swim pool is way up on Deck 12 out of 13, and there is a golf driving area and basketball court on Deck 13.. The gym is mid-sized, like the Spirit, and the only miss is that there was no fresh juice bar onboard. There were always plenty of deck chairs; all you had to do was hunt a little. Many did not seem to know that DECK 13 has lots of lounge chairs and on our cruise of 2,000+ always had unused places.
There are a number of classes to take. Most free and quite good. The Napkin folding is a new skill I will share with my friends. Too bad they do not teach animal towel folding that is something you could do to entertain the grandkids. Beware of the classes if, they are held in the training room off the gym, they are 30 minutes of valuable information then a sales pitch for the last 20 minutes.
NCL had free or well priced buses in every Port to take you to the town's centre. We took the ship's transport then got on the local HOP-ON HOP-OFF bus to see Funchal, Santa Cruz and Malaga. NOTE to NCL -- Sell these trips on board.
We took the NCL shore excursion from the port of Arrecife, went on the tour that included the desert, volcano, and the camel ride. It was a hoot and a good value.
The service is ship is not as varied as many others. It is a REAL HIGH POINT for the crew. Most crew members did an excellent job and they seem a smiling and happy group, truly enjoying their occupation.
4 crew members stood out for us. First, we had the great good luck to be assigned dinner with an officer one night. When we boarded we asked reception if we could dine with an Officer one night. Wish GRANTED! We were meet at the Windows entrance by a very friendly Officer from the US, named Robb. He is the Human Resources Director. Before this I never knew you would need HR on a ship. Robb told us he was fairly new with NCL, and that this company treats its crew better than others he's worked for. You can tell that is true by the way the crew wants its guests to be happy onboard. The ship kept the wine p0uring, quite good wine it was. Robb joined us in toasting our holiday with a glass of water. He explained that for safety reason Senior Officers were alcohol free for their entire contract aboard ship or on shore. That really lets us sleep soundly knowing that those in control of the ship were always totally sober.
Next was our Washy-Washy Girl Sybille-- Might need explaining- on the Norwegian Spirit there are hand sanitizing gel dispensers everywhere. At the entrance to the restaurants there are humans spraying your hands called "Washy Washies". In front of Raffles Buffet is Sybille who is always singing and dancing, and joking with the guests.
The last two are the Captain Lars who was heard on the intercom a couple times a day, was seen eating with passengers in the buffets, and was always happy to be interrupted and talked to the guests. Especially fun was Captain Lar's interaction with our 4th best crew member, Armando, the hotel director , who did a cake bake skit with the Captain and also was so entertaining when he and the Captain had a Q&A session for the passengers. Armando's accent was amazing.
I would recommend NCL and Norwegian Spirit to any cruisers, who like a laid back, easy going cruise atmosphere and unobtrusive fun. A long as you want to have fun, and be part of the fun The Norwegian Spirit is for you.