We flew to Barcelona independently with BA and after a great flight got a cab to our hotel the Tryp Apolo in Barcelona. This was an excellent good value hotel near the port and within walking distance of the Ramblas and with the metro right outside (Paralel) a fantastic base to explore the city.
The next morning we got a cab to the cruise terminal - again the taxi rank is right outside the hotel - but if you have easy luggage you could actually walk (about 1/2 an hour) or at least walk to the Columbus monument (about 5-10 minutes) and get the 2 euro port bus from there. We have never been ripped off by cabs in Barcelona and the fares are metered and by European city standards reasonable, so we decided to take the easy option.
Embarkation was a breeze and as we boarded the sun was out and there was a real holiday atmosphere, even though it was only about 12c outside!
The Spirit is an older ship, but it is kept very clean and has a very logical and ambient design. Our cabin 10628 was fine, smaller than most balcony cabins but adequate storage. The beds were comfortable and at night it was very quiet - slept perfectly! Maybe that was to do with the fact that we didn't turn in until the early hours as we were busy with the evening/night entertainment which was generally great fun.
The swimming pool was large and deep for a cruise ship which I liked; there is a children's pool at the back which for this cruise was largely a waste of space as there were few children on board. Selfishly this would make a fabulous adults only area as it occupies quite a large area at the more sheltered back of the ship.
The 1st day was an overcast sea day and it was also cool but explored the ship. The casino was good for the size of the ship and the gym which I attended daily was also fine. Lots of quiet areas (not for me) and also lively bars. The buffet was excellent and I don't understand the negative comments I have read. I have always found the NCL buffets to be amongst the best at sea and certainly better than P&O and Cunard. The "washy washy" girls at the entrance to the buffet areas are hilarious and can't help bring a smile to your face, and on a serious note with their spray attacks of sanitiser help prevent infection.
We upgraded to the speciality restaurants and our favourite was Cagneys. Please don't believe comments that the food is the same as the standard dining rooms - it isn't. The steaks here are delicious, service brilliant and great atmosphere too. We also liked the Bistro one night, again the food was excellent, but the second time we went there the service was poor and the food OK only. The Teppanyaki was also a fun experience and the food delicious. We found the quality of the drinks available both in the restaurants and the bars also to be very good - we were on the ultimate beverage package which for us was excellent value.
We only saw one show - Elements - which was a 1st class production and well worth seeing. We generally toured the bars and then went to the Galaxy lounge where there was a band, dancing and fun - and then on to the decadent Mahirinis lounge where we had a lot of fun chatting and dancing and having more fun! We had a great time!
1st stop was Casablanca - interesting city and worth going to the Mosque and the old town to capture the flavour, but also to walk around the quite European modern part of the city. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great that day, although back on ship in the early afternoon the sun did shine for a while and I managed a swim - the last until we got to Funchal! The sea was rough sailing from Casablanca to Funchal and the following sea day the ship was quiet as it was rolling about and the pool was closed. It was a sunny day though so we just enjoyed the weather in the sunlounger - walking about was difficult!
Funchal is a pretty port and it was a warm sunny day, the next stop was Arrecife where it was even warmer and sunny too. Got the ship's courtesy bus to the town centre which is worth doing as the town is more pleasant than what it seems from the ship. We were fortunate then with the weather back to Malaga and then on to Barcelona.
We have never gone into Malaga before on previous trips - just walked to the beach area of Malagueta. This time we took the 4 euro return bus transfer to the town itself and had a delightful walk around the castle and the cathedral - well worth doing.
Disembarkation at Barcelona was easy - we just walked off with our own luggage. Our flight wasn't until the afternoon so we decided to get some exercise to help shed the pounds we had put on eating the delicious food and walked from the ship to the Ramblas and then down to Plaza de Catalunya. Bit of a hike I know but it felt good! We had a coffee in the sunshine and then boarded the aerobus direct to Terminal 1 for 6 euros!
We absolutely loved this cruise - we expected to enjoy it anyway just to get out of the British winter, but it did exceed our expectations on every level. The ship was better than we thought, the food was excellent, service everywhere with a smile, we were lucky with the weather and we had fun fun fun.