This was our first cruise.We have travelled to many parts of the world,but have somehow resisted cruising,assuming it to be fairly restrictive.We were wrong.!!
Our embarkation port was Venice,and we walked straight to the luggage drop of point and handed over our cases.We were then directed into the check in area,which was littered with paper cups,and plates discarded from other fellow passengers,waiting to check in.What appeared to slow the check in process,was the companys determination to take your photograph,before you got on board,however,after about 45 minutes wait we were of to our stateroom on deck 11.We were a bit surprised about the size of the room,but the balcony helped to give a greater feeling of space.We were amazed at the small entrance doors to the w.c. and shower with the w.c. being 16 inches wide and the shower being 18 inches wide.I'm just glad we are a small statured couple.There was complimentary shower and body wash,the bed was comfortable,the coffee machine was a perculator,(wish we had taken our Nescafe)and the flat screen t v,gave us b b c world news,but overall the cabin was comfortable,and well looked after.
The ship was easy to navigate around,and while we used the buffet area for lunch/snacks,we ate in the windows restaurant at every possible occassion,and appreciated the table service,and more relaxed atmosphere.We also ate the Shogun A La Carte,which had a $15 cover charge.The food in all areas,was good,however not exceptional,and we were certainly never hungry during our stay.
We went along to the theatre most nights,and were pleasantly surprised by the standard of entertainment,Omar Gonzalez Yalba,The Evolution of Magic,The Marionettes and Elements were very good,Four Ever in Concert,were outstanding,sorry entertainments team,your singing was more screaming than singing.We went along to a few of the trivia quizes,but found they were very slanted towards the American market,but overall,there was plenty to do if you were not leaving the ship.Drinks were also very reasonably priced,and better still,well made,with the choice of branded spirits.
However,the highlight of the ship,was the standard of service.It was OUTSTANDING !!the cabin steward,the server at your table,the service in the bar,shore excursions,guest relations,etc,etc,etc,Well done.Norwegian Cruise Lines should be proud of you,as front line people,you made our holiday.The highlight for me,was that after 5 days visiting the windows restaurant,the young girl who checked us in (Lotta.) knew us by our surname,without swiping our card!! out of the thousands of guests that is exceptional.!!
We only did one shore trip with Norwegian,and did the remaining shore trips through Cruise Excursions.com,they were more competitivly priced, but the down side was you had a bit more walking to do,as their buses were always parked further away,and you had a bit of a wait,before boarding your bus.
We enjoyed every port,and were sorry the ship could not dock in Mykonos(high winds)but at all places the ship was just so easy to get off and on.Where the Captain went that day after we could not dock,was a mystery to us,but the consequence was we spent an extra day at sea.
In Barcelona,where we disembarked,we chose to walk of the ship,with our luggage,instead of using the colour coding luggage system, so so easy.
In conclusion,a wonderful,excellent,brilliant,great,etc holiday for us,with just a couple of niggles.One,we were charged $12 per person per day for service charges,and an autogratuity on every drink we bought,which cost us an extra $50.Two, the menu in the windows restaurant was too repetative,they did have a daily special,but in our opinion,could have done much better,even a different menu for week one and week two would have been an improvement.
And finally,although it did not effect us,the daily service charge is charged to children (3 years and over)!!! sorry I think that is disgraceful...
Anyway,you have won us over,we will be back,and are already looking out options for 2014...Thank you all,from top to bottom,on the Norwegian Spirit...