Let me start by saying that we enjoyed our cruise on the Spirit. About a year ago we sailed on the Dawn and really enjoyed that cruise so we decided to try the Spirit. I would cruise on the Dawn again but would not cruise on the Spirit. We met quite a few people on the cruise (around 30)and they all had the same feeling about the Spirit. They were enjoying their cruise; however, they would not cruise on the Spirit again.
LAYOUT OF SHIP:
We did not like the layout of the ship. For one thing the pool area is quite small and did not have many activities going on throughout the day as other ships do. Another thing that was odd was that the main dining rooms were on the 6th floor along with cabins and not on a main level. Most ships have lounges with entertainment mid ship that lead to the dining room or the theater; the Spirit does not. It just seemed like the design of the ship lacked coordination of dining with lounge areas and the theater. If you wanted to have a drink before dinner you had to go up to deck 12 or deck 8. We did not like the flow of the ship at all!
Another very odd feature was the disco which was at the back of the casino. It was a nightclub at night and part of the daycare/camp/club during the day for 10 to 12 year olds. It just seemed bizarre to have children walk through a smokey casino to go to the camp.
We also did not like how the Spirit showcased gambling. There was gambling poolside and in Galaxy of the Stars. I don't think it is appropriate to have gambling in supposedly kid-friendly areas. In fact one night I saw a 15 year old in the casino along with other teenagers gambling. It was not until he was up $400 that someone asked him what age he was. I am sure if he just kept losing money no one would have said anything
Another odd feature was the running track ran through the Bier Garten grill. So runners were constantly getting upset because the had to slow down or come to a full stop because people were either standing in the track, pulling a lounge chair into the track or carrying food across the track
My daughter hated the basketball court. For teenagers the basketball court on cruiseships is a great place to hang out. Spirit's basketball court was a joke and a big disappointment to my daughter
The spa as well as the gym was so small and congested it wasn't worth going too. Everytime my daughter went to the gym, the limited amount of machines were taken. The Dawn had a fabulous spa; the Sprit spa is a joke.
Deck Seven is a great place to go to and relax outside; the problem is they only have about 8 teak lounge chairs. I just don't understand why they do not have more lounge chairs on this deck. A lot of people love the quietness of deck 7; unfortunately you cannot lay back and enjoy it.
We were quite surprised how much we enjoyed the food.
Windows: We usually had breakfast there each morning because the two times we ate at the buffet the food was cold. We really enjoyed the eggs benedict and the waffles with the banana compote. We also ate there one night for dinner when the lobster was served. The service and the food was excellent
Garden Room: We had dinner there twice and both times our meals were excellent as well as the service. The prime rib, veal piccata and rack of lamb were excellent. In fact the rack of lamb was better here than at Le Bistro. It was probably the best rack of lamb I have ever had; very tender, not gamey, and well seasoned.
Teppanyaki: We had the filet mignon and I thought the food was good but not great
Asian: Excellent. We tried all of the appetizers and they were great especially the squid, shrimp and vegetable tempura and the pot stickers.
Sushi: Excellent. The had a nice variety of rolls. We tuna, yellowtail and eel were excellent along with the shrimp tempura roll
Le Bistro: Good. As stated above we had the rack of lamb but it was not as good as the Garden room
Cagney's: BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!! We loved Cagney's on the Dawn; We were very disappointed on the Spirit. We truly felt we did not get our money's worth with the meal. The shrimp are not the jumbo shrimp you would expect to get at a steak restaurant. They were more the size of the cheap peel and eat shrimp. The crab cakes had barely any crab in them. The lobster bisque was horrible! AND THE WORST PART WAS THE LOBSTER. The lobster was suppose to be at least 1.5 lbs. The lobsters we received were puny and could not have been more than 1 lb. The only item we enjoyed was the bananas foster.
Italian: The only item we enjoyed was the fresh mozzarella and tomato. The pasta was precooked and reheated.
Buffet: The two items I thought were very good was the Ceasar salad and the Stir Fry.
Beir Garden: Good hamburgers and french fries
Outdoor Grill: On certain days they have a charcoal grill where they serve hamburgers, chicken and pork which were quite good.
CABIN STEWARD AND CLEANLINESS
We were blessed with a wonderful cabin steward. He kept are room spotless and always welcomed us with a smile. Every night we would come back to the cabin and be surprised with his towel art.
Overall, I thought the ship was very clean. They were always cleaning up all of the public areas. Very rarely did you see glasses or plates laying around for a long time. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the ship.
The only show we watched was the Broadway show which we did not enjoy. We did however, enjoy the main band which usually played at Galaxy of the Stars. The woman singer had a fantastic voice. The comedian was also pretty good.
We were suppose to receive an onboard credit and never received it. I will have to deal with NCL and my travel agent about this issue. I would highly recommend that you check to make sure your onboard credit is posted at the beginning of your cruise so it can be investigated if it is not listed.
San Juan: Would have loved to have gone to St Thomas as originally planned. Since we did not get in until the middle of the day it limits your choices on what to do.
Tortola: We went to Cane Garden Beach. It was a lovely beach with beautiful scenery of the mountains. The ride to the beach was very exciting going up and down the steep mountain. We really felt the ride was as exciting as a roller coaster ride.
Samana: Cayo Levantado is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This has to be one of the most beautiful, peaceful beaches in the world. We have been all over the Caribbean and this beach is one of the best. DO NOT MISS THIS BEACH IF YOU ARE A BEACH PERSON.
Don't wait on that long line to make dinner reservations. Every day I would see people waiting on line to make dinner reservations. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CALL ON THE TELEPHONE AND AVOID THE LINE
There are certain hot spots on the ship especially on deck 13 above the pool area on the balcony up the stairs near the Beir Garden. I highly recommend on chilly sea days to try and find these spots. We were very lucky; three of the days were a little chilly on the ship but we found the hot spots and were able to lay out in the sun all day while other people walked around in sweat shirts.
For embarkation if you get to the port early and you are Latitudes member DO NOT go to the Latitudes lounge. We were told by someone in port authority as well as the NCL booking person that if you arrive early your are better off sitting down in the general seating area. We got on the ship hours before any of the Lattitudes members got on. Thank God we were told this because we are Latittudes members and we were going to go the the Lattitudes lounge area.
For Disembarkation if you choose to go with Express whereby you carry your on bags DO NOT go up to deck 7 until you see that they are letting people off and the lines have shortened. Just stay in your room or on deck 12
Make sure you book your excursions early. In Samana a lot of people wanted to go on the beach excursion and it was fully booked.