We took the Spirit on the Sept. 16 sailing up the east coast from New York. My husband and I have been cruising for nearly 15 years and have traveled on NCL, Royal, Holland America, Princess, Costa and Celebrity. I choose this cruise because of the itinerary, dates and value. We have gone on at least 5 cruises with NCL in the past and enjoy the free style cruising, but know that some of the other lines are more upscale. Any cruise is a good cruise and this was no exception.
I tend to focus more on the ports of call than the ship itself. I had read reviews on the Spirit, so knew the basics. The age of the ship has never meant much to me and I have had some of my better cruising experiences on older ships that are well kept. The ship was easy to navigate and had a some interesting decor. The room was similar to many I've been in, but did have a nicer bathroom than some. I choose rooms near the middle on a lower level to lesson the risk of motion sickness and did that on this cruise as well.
The entertainment was fine. The typical production numbers, comedian, jugglers, etc. I did think the bands in the lounges were better than most I've seen and spent more time listening to those than usual.
The food was hit and miss. I've discovered that since NCL has added more of the pay restaurants, the food in the main dining rooms is lacking. I don't pay to eat at the alternative dining venues, figure I've already paid for food, why pay more, and $20 is not a nominal fee. The menus in the main dining room were disappointing. If you want prime rib and jumbo cocktail shrimp you'll need to pay to eat. We had some meals that were very good and others that were inedible. Most of the food at Raffles was bland, but the omelettes and crepes were very good. Desserts were a joke. If it wasn't made out of cake, pudding or cheese cake it wasn't there.
What I like best about cruising is waking up in a new port every day. Not having to pack and unpack, and drive or fly to the next destination. Our weather was wonderful. Upper 60s to low-mid 70s everyday and mostly sunny. The leaves hadn't really started to change yet, just a few yellow and red mixed in. Leaving New York we sailed past the Statue of LIberty and it was spectacular.
Our first day was a ship day. Our first stop was in Halifax. We rented a car for the day to get out of the city and see the country side at our own pace. I had reserved a car with Budget - easy walking distance from the ship, but Alamo and Hertz were closer. Customer service with Budget recommended a route through Peggy's Cove and beyond. It was a beautiful drive. Can take the interstate out and do the coast back up or the reverse. Stopped at a beach, strolled some small communities and had a very enjoyable day.
Our next stop was Bar Harbor. This is a tender port and things were a little unorganized. They do customs in the morning re-entering the US from Canada. This bottle-necked things and we didn't get to shore until about 11. The organized tours were off first. We took the LLBean free buses into Acadia Park. These are a short walk from the pier on the village green. They have different routes and offer hop-on, hop-off service. The park itself was beautiful, but we were disappointed that we didn't get to take more routes - took two. Time was short with the late tender. Lines to get back on the ship were long and slow.
In Boston I had pre-booked a hop-on, hop-off trolley online. I thought I had gotten a really good deal, but discovered that another trolley service was available closer to the ship at the same price with a harbor cruise included. The trolley tour was great, had 18 stops and we really got to see the city. Some stops were close enough that you could walk from one to the next, others were further. I found the history very interesting and there was a lot to see here.
Our last stop was Martha's Vineyard. This is also a tender port, but we had no trouble getting off the ship. The day started bright and sunny, but the fog rolled in and we had about half sun and half overcast for the day. We took public transportation buses from Oak Bluff to Edgartown and spent some time walking around there before opting for another bus route that takes you on a loop to the beach. Wide sand beaches, clear water and sunshine, we walked around on the beach for an hour before returning to town. This was one of our favorite places. There are other bus line options here also.
We opted for the taxi to and from JFK. We planned to check our bags and take the Air Train and Subway to see some of New York before our evening flight. They wouldn't let us check our bags early and we ended up wasting time at the airport. Coming home is never fun.