Some background info about our cruise - Hubby, myself, daughter (13), and son (2). The weather was pretty cool on our cruise - I'd say about 70 degrees each day, even in Nassau. There were very few times we didn't have a jacket on while onboard. While we did see lots of people in the pool/hot tubs - it was too cool for us ! We met a few great Cruise Critic families at our meet and greet - Hi - Welikepalms, Loves2Stamp and Tinkerbell ! Hope you all enjoyed your cruise, too !
Embarkation at Manhattan Cruise Terminal - We drove from near Pittsburgh, PA. Took us about 7 hours - arrived at noon. And so did everyone else ! ( I took some "prizes" for my 2 year old son to open on the way and this really worked well.) I'd recommend getting there a little earlier or later ! Clearing security and check in probably took about 1 hour - we were allowed to board the ship directly after checking in. Went straight to our cabin, which was ready. We went on Deck 12 on Raffles terrace while leaving the port - how neat it was to go by the Statue of Liberty ! It was pretty darn cold that day though !
Debarkation at Manhattan Cruise Terminal - We arrived ½ hour late - at 10:30am. We chose to do the Express Debarkation - so did a lot of other people ! The line was the whole way around deck 7 ! Once they started letting us off the ship it went pretty fast through customs. We then just took the elevator up to the parking area, threw in the luggage and took off ! You pay for the parking on the way in, so you are just able to leave when you get back. We noticed the terminal was much busier on Saturday when leaving than on Sunday when arriving. There was also another ship there on Saturday - that could have had something to do with it. Also, my husband said when he parked the car on Sunday, there was no bomb sniffing dog, but when we left on Saturday, they were checking the cars coming in - go figure !
Cabin - We were in cabin #6035 which is 200 sq. ft. There was a noticeable difference to us in the larger cabin size. The queen bed was centered on the wall and there was plenty of room on either side. On one side (where the pull down bed was) we had the pack 'n play set up and there was still room to walk between it and the bed. There was plenty of room to leave the stroller up - never had to fold it and put it away. There is one 110 volt plug by the vanity/desk area. We found this to be enough - didn't take a power strip. There were some shelves by the TV with drawers below. The closet was roomy (not very many hangers) and it also had shelves off to one side. The safe was also in the closet. To the left of the closet was a chair which we used to hold one of our suitcases. The bathroom was larger also. Shower was plenty big with sliding glass door, shampoo/soap dispenser, hook on wall, handrail on wall, and clothesline. I took an inflatable tub to give my son a bath and there was plenty of room in the shower. There were 2 corner shelves on each side of the mirror. We found the hairdryer to work just fine. The one thing I had never seen before were - shoe mitts - they were left beside the shower caps - does anyone know what you're supposed to do with them ?! You are given beach towels and if you don't have them in your cabin at the end of the cruise - you are charged $25 ea. for them. I guess if they are wet - they will exchange them for you on deck. Our room stewards were just O.K. - we only had 2 towel animals all week. My husband thinks that since the tips are added on ahead of time they just don't try very hard anymore. I did the birthday package for my husband - a couple birthday signs, 5 balloons, and a birthday cake - $30, the look on his face - priceless ! I really don't think it was worth the $30, but he was really surprised. The cake was a nice size and it was good, but we didn't eat much of it because there was so much other food ! We did notice some noise from the steps if kids were running, but other than that not much noise - unless we were just too tired to notice !
Dining - We ate at Raffles buffet every day for breakfast, lunch, dinner I know, how boring !! I just felt more comfortable in there with our 2 year old son. We were always able to find something we liked to eat. For breakfast we liked the pancakes, French toast and muffins. The stir fry was very good - on the first night they had chicken and calamari stir fry already made up -so there was no waiting - each night after that they made each person's stir fry to order, so the line sometimes got really long ! They had a kids section which had hot dogs, pasta, pizza, fries, macaroni and cheese, etc. - my kids both enjoyed this section. My family was also thrilled to see Heinz products - ketchup, mustard and 57 sauce !! I ordered a diet Coke - it was $1.75/$2.01 w/tip. The maitre d at Raffles was very nice - he would get juice anytime for my son even though it was only available at breakfast.
I did take our 13 year old daughter to Windows one evening - we both had some kind of steak which was very good - we went about 6pm and didn't have to wait in line at all.
There was always food by the pool and at the Bier Garten for lunch, but we never tried it.
Kids Club/Arcade/Pools- Our 13 year old daughter didn't want to sign up for the Kids club - I didn't force the issue. I signed up our 2 year old son on the 2nd day. I was given a pager, but no one ever paged me. He went for 2 hours - when I came back they said he started to cry and they held him the whole time. So, don't assume that if they're not calling you - everything's O.K. I'm glad I only stayed away for 2 hours - would they have held him for 3 or 4 hours ? Anyway, he wouldn't go back after that - which was fine. They also had times set aside that parents could come in and play with their child - we did this once and he loved it. They have a pretty nice play area with a ball pit/climbing area and they got out bins of toys - blocks/cars,etc. for them to play with. We only went to this once - it just seemed like the times interfered with his nap !
Both of the kids enjoyed the arcade - it was really big ! All kinds of games/air hockey/jukebox. Our 2 year old just liked to sit on the car/motorcycle games - cheap entertainment - we never had to put money in for him !
The Buccaneer pool looked like lots of fun. My son is not potty trained, so I took along an inflatable bath tub which worked great. He only got to use it once - it was pretty chilly weather. I did use it to give him a bath, too - plenty of room in the shower. There was also a small oval pool off to the side that had about 5 inches of water in it. Just a note about the enclosed play area by the kids pools - don't go in there in your bare feet ! The flooring is some kind of black rubber - I was in there in my bare feet and it took me 2 days to scrub the black off my feet !
All of the pools were closed on Friday, the last day of our cruise, because of the rough seas. The Tivoli pool looked like a wave pool. That was kind of a bummer because that was one of our warmest days !
Excursions - Port Canaveral - my husband and daughter went on the Cocoa Beach shuttle. We arrived in Port Canaveral early, so almost all of the excursions left one hour earlier than the time stated. They were back in 2½ hours because they were too cold ! My daughter had on jeans and a hoodie - just to give you an idea of the weather !
Nassau - we just got off the ship on our own and walked around to the straw market, etc. It was a nice day. We saw a lot of people renting scooters. The water is so beautiful - some green, some blue ! My husband and daughter along with a lot of other passengers saw a sting ray jump up out of the water ! I missed it !
Grand Bahama Island - we didn't get off the ship here. You pull into a very industrial looking area, but he water is so beautiful !
Miscellaneous - We didn't take any watches with us - we figured we'd use our cell phones to see what time it was - well that didn't work out so well ! I'm not sure why, but the time on our cell phones was all messed up - it was never the right time - so you might want to take a watch ! Does anyone know why this happens ?
Photos were very expensive - $15 for a 4 x 6 photo - they offered packages on some days, but basically you get screwed !
Captain's bridge viewing window in Galaxy of the Stars was really neat. It's kind of scary though - there was hardly anyone in there - must have been on auto pilot ! My daughter thought all the windshield wipers were cool.
Deck 7 (Promenade) was our favorite to just sit and relax ! I took cars/trucks for my son to play with and I just sat on the deck with him and he played for hours - I liked playing on Deck 7 with him because there were no steps for me to worry about him falling down !
Deck 13 was usually so windy - we didn't spend much time up there unless at port.
Internet café - I did to an internet package, but beware - some days the internet was sooo slow ! So, on those days, I just logged off and tried again later - usually it was better later in the evening - don't know whey that would be, but it was.
Over all - we had a great cruise - the Spirit is a very nice ship - the oriental décor was really different ! We just wish the weather had been a little nicer - but that's the chance you take sailing in April ! Happy Cruising !