My husband and I were on The Spirit, for a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise, and returned on 12/16. As far as the overall experience, we have a split decision. We had a suite, and you do receive special services and amenities other passengers do not. Also available are a concierge, butler, and priority considerations. Every night there is a different treat delivered - such as canapEs, strawberries dipped in chocolate, etc. We did have the advantage of using a concierge available to us, and I used her almost exclusively to book excursions, reservations, etc., and tipped in addition to the automatic service charge (a bone of contention). We also took advantage of the Butler and full room service, again with the extra gratuity. I booked the cruise one-year before our sailing, so we got a great deal, equal to a balcony room, so we figured, why not.
Here is what I observed - The Spirit is an older vessel, and originally catered to an Asian market, so there were problems with that. My husband weighs 260 pounds, and the chairs and furniture are not accommodating for a man of his size. The ship is worn, as was the suite. Ship maintenance was not quite up to standards I have experienced on other cruise lines. I felt the food was average in the main dining area (portions were minimal), and very good in the specialty restaurants. My favorite specialty restaurants were Cagney's and Le Bistro. It is unfortunate, however, we as passengers must pay surcharges for dining that would not be charged on other cruise lines. The Stardust Theater was smaller than most cruise line venues, which I rather liked - however, the entertainment was redundant. The cruise director was creepy. We had a specific itinerary, we wanted to leave from NOLA in Dec., so NCL Spirit was it. Of the ports we visited - Roatan, and San Tomas - my question would be, why? Cozumel was our last port designated to visit, and unfortunately due to weather, our snorkel excursion as most water activities, were cancelled. The excursion staff was much disorganized in trying to get something else scheduled in the way of alternative activities, and was often unavailable and rude.
In my opinion, NCL does not know who there targeted market is. The food is mediocre, as well as the ship board service, staff, and activities. If we did not have the suite and the amenities, I would have been sorely disappointed. As far as I can tell, while doing my cruise shopping, NCL is less expensive than other cruise lines. Because of this, to surmise in a nutshell - while you may seemingly get a bargain, with NCL, I believe you get what you pay for!