If this was my very first cruise on NCL I probably would never cruise again!! However I have had some really good experiences on NCL. This was not one of them. Embarkation:Filthy Dirty New York City, the pier was probably much less hospitable than Ellis Island in its heyday!. We were yelled at by an officious woman who herded us into lines four abreast surrounded by ropes,where we stood and were verbally berated for not standing close enough. Then a Immigration Officer yelled at us to have our tickets on show with our passports, those without tickets (e tickets were further berated) Lovely start. We then proceeded to a vast dirty 'shed' with a few folding chairs where we were separated into Latitude/Non Latitude. Waited for about fifteen minutes in line and then were dealt with by an unsmiling clerk who demanded our passports and said they would be held until we returned. I had to be quite firm to get even a receipt.
We made it onto the Spirit.
The cabin was small, with a Balcony. The beds were hard, a plank would have offered more comfort, requests for a egg crate cover were turned down. The washroom was tiny, and this was a 2 category 'upgrade'. We had the privilege of having the Childcare center above us so the noise most of the cruise was dreadful.The room crew were polite and efficient, as were all the room and wait staff. No towel animals for us though!
The ship was extremely crowded with a very 'blue collar' crowd. Lots of backward ball caps and buckets of beer being toted to and fro. Not what I was used to.There was no decent pub or bar, Henrys Pub was a total smokers area, Shanghai Bar was just a few stools in a corridor. There was no draft beer at all except some Heineken in the so called Biergarten.But that was a smoking area too. Food as usual was excellent, tasty, diverse and well presented. We preferred Windows but the Garden Room was pleasant, we only dined in Restaurants, The buffet (AKA The Trough) was always crowded ,with teens and kids being allowed to run rampant throughout it, we avoided the buffet , the food looked none too good.
Entertainment was a little on the poor side. A Magician with little personality, a family acrobatic act (the star was 10 years old). The usual Jean Ann Ryan Group was not on the Spirit but the NCL SHow group were who performed some reasonable shows, although there was one of those 'My country is of thee' type of patriotic American fervor that never fails to irritate everyone who is not from the so called land of the 'free'.We have seen much much better. The lowest of taste was exhibited by the Cruise Director Ray Ray who did the Newlywed game with a Gay couple who described their first sex act on the sand dunes in Canada!. There was a pretty poor standard of behavior and language exhibited by many on the Cruise Directors Staff in General.
Excursions : Past experience proved NCL Tours to be overpriced and overpromoted so we did the same tours for half the price in St Thomas and Tortola independently. Samana was scary. Why NCL chooses a destination where you cant get more than 10 feet from the pier before getting harassed and accosted by beggars and locals.I don't know. Most people on our tender out turned around and returned immediately.There is no tourist infrastructure and a definite lack of security. As usual drinks and Wine was vastly overpriced, the phony art auctions were held, Mr Shopping tried to flog his watches and obscure gemstones.The usual one expects. I did hope for some peace and relaxing quiet, that was difficult with the location of the twice upgraded cabin and the 'brats on board' and the number of inebriated passengers.
In short I was most disappointed, the ship was crowded, the entertainment and activities poor.I have had much much better from NCL. They should put Patti Honacki from the Dream as Cruise Director and raise the standard from the bottom of the barrel. I would seriously advise anyone who wants to go on a cruise to avoid New York at all costs. Disembarkation was also a nightmare involving bad organization, delays and having to experience the new York 'Cruise terminal'It took an hour to the Taxi Rank.