A group of 16 of us embarked on the NCL Spirit for the 2/3/08 sailing out of New Orleans. Embarkation was a bit slower than I expected. We had previously sailed the Star Princess, which was a much larger ship, so that was the first thing I noticed. While the ship had all of the necessary amenities, it was definitely a bit cramped for the amount of guests. Additionally the lay out of the ship was strange, difficult to explain, but once I got the hang of it, the cruise was over.
I stayed on deck 5, with a porthole. The stateroom itself was adequate, but definitely could use a face lift. The decor was dated, and a bit tired. One couple in our group had a balcony on deck 9 which was much nicer.
The public areas were nicer. Very clean, pretty. I would say the word adequate again, not fantastic, but definitely not bad. I particularly enjoyed the atrium area, although there were fountains, not being used and a piano that always seemed idle.
Food onboard varied from adequate to excellent. Standard buffet fare, Fairly good restaurants (Garden and Windows) Fantastic specialty restaurants. What bugs me is the trend ships are having to push you towards the specialty restaurants by not offering excellent cuisine in the base restaurants. So you think you are booking a cruise at a decent rate, but then you are drawn into the specialty restaurants and there goes your $$$. Also the price of drinks is outrageous. $5 for a bottle of beer. $8 for the drink of the day. I realize they are trying to make money, but come on! All ships are similar here, so I really can't complain.
Shore excursions were what you make them. We went to the Waterfalls in Guatemala. Very fun. We went Cave tubing in Belize-great. My only comment to NCL is that they need to organize these better. In Belize, we all met in the theater and the director called tour numbers. Well people either didn't hear, arrived late, or were confused so they need to take a lesson from Princess here. When Princess had us meet, they seated you by excursion. Very easy.
No Virus, bed bugs, any of the ugly things people have been mentioning. Service was FANTASTIC. I never felt that the restaurant staff, bar staff or stewards were sub-par, equal to Princess here. Wonderful Service.
Only issue I had with cleanliness was the sewage smell. Slight, but present in just about every toilet, whether in a room or public toilet.
We attended several art auctions, and must say this was a ball. The hosts Erica and Justin made this very fun and educational.
Overall I would say that the cruise was good fun. Unusual ports, lots to do, plenty of sunshine, lots of food. A cruise is what you make it, and we had a ball. Some minor complaints, but I would still say go for it, and enjoy yourself. I would cruise NCL again.