Ok, first let me state that my family (immediate) and I are first time cruisers. We had a total of 9 on board with us. We had 3 cabins all inside, 2 right next door to each other, the other 3 doors away. Only my MIL & SIL have been on a cruise before. We have been on land -All Inclusive vacations before but never on a cruise. With that said, this was by far the best vacation we have ever been on. We- especially I, as I'm the one who read the boards all the reviews and on the NCL Spirit, was very concerned about the bad reviews and complaints from past cruisers. PLEASE TAKE ALL THOSE BAD THINGS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. It would seem that they just had to complain about something, we found very little to frown upon (I'll explain that later). Your on vacation relax and enjoy.
First- we left our hometown of Buffalo around 2am Sunday, as we needed to stop & pick up the MIL in Staten Island on the way to the pier. We should have left straight for the pier at 10am but thinking that was too early we didn't leave until 11:30 am and hit the traffic jam to the parking garage on the Westside Highway. No biggie- took us until 1pm to get to the pier to unload the bags, then DH & SIL went to park the cars and the boys DS17, DS11, DS9 & DS8 along with MIL & I flagged a porter to take the bags. Already had the blue tags they mailed me on them- everything was set. Called DH to meet us inside the terminal 2nd floor.
1st Day (Sunday): Have your ticket & passports and/or photo ID/birth certificate in hand as its required to enter the security line, and what a line this was-everyone must have had the same idea. Since I had all 6 of the immediate families passports in my hand- I keep them as we shuffled along in the line- took about 15-20 minutes. Since DH had the wine (2 bottles) in his bag he got pulled aside to get the corkage fee assessed- he also sent the scanner off 3 times (turned out to be his watch) and I think that's how they noticed the wine, but my MIL who by this time was in a wheelchair-long story here, didn't get stopped with her 1 bottle. From security- you stand in another line this time for check-in and setting up of the on board account. Again-since we had 2 cabins & 6 people took a little time. Everyone has his or her picture taken and cards issued. With the wheelchair still being used my MIL, SIL & SIL's BFF got thru quicker than we did-got to use the Latitudes line. Once everything was in order got a fold out map of the ship then off to take the Welcome picture- bought this one, great picture of the family. Everyone has a smile on there face as we board the ship- finally we are truly on vacation. Since it is now after 2 pm, we stop at the cabins and drop off our carry on bags. I ordered the anniversary package so Sparkling wine was on ice and chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us in the room. Sandro, our room steward greets me by name Mrs. ... and lets us know we can go to Raffles for lunch, from the boards I know Windows is open and want to go there but I get out vetoed by the rest of the family, so off to Raffles we go. We find the rest of the family; they are saving seats for us. Grab a bite to eat- nice selection, something for everyone. Then we hear the muster drill announcement that you need to get your life jacket from your room soon and it will begin in 15 minutes. So we head back get the jackets find out that even though we are next door to each other that 1 cabin is in 1 area and the other is in another. We all go to the same location and advise 1 (actually 4 as everyone keep telling us we were in the wrong area) of the staff of our situation- they took the info and we all stayed together. The drill is over very quickly, then back to the cabin to drop off the jackets and up to deck 12/13 for the send off party. Went and purchased the soda cards for the kids. We told them to make it worth our wild they needed to drink 4-5 sodas a day. Since they don't get to drink soda like this at home- they all thought this was a wonderful idea. Time to eat again-they gave a BBque- I know I gained weight-all we did was eat! Sailing past the Statue of Liberty & under the Verazanno Bridge was the best!!! After a little eating, drinking and music we head to the children's center to get everyone signed up. I made all of the boys go to the get acquainted night. This way they could see whether or not they wanted to go back even the 17 year old. This was my only rule- try it- you might like it and guess what they all did. We had to make them spend time with us. They wanted to be with their newfound friends, even the 17 year old!!!. I head back to the cabins to unpack for everyone, while everyone else plays video games in the Arcade. Then its dinnertime, we eat at Raffles again, quick so the kids can go to the Kid's Crew Center. While they are there, DH, SIL, SIL's BFF & I head to see the show- Chanz- only 20 years old and very talented-tap dance, horn & singing. See him if you can. DH went to get the kids since the show lasted past the 10pm pickup time. After the show it's off to bed. Sandro, has the rooms made up- the boys in 1 cabin, DH & I in the other- GREAT since our anniversary was yesterday! No towel animal tonight.
2nd Day-1st Sea Day (Monday): Got up early, got everyone, but DS17, out of bed to have breakfast. Went to Raffles- great selection-eggs to order, omelets, waffles, French toast-awesome, turkey sausage, everything you might want- they have. Sat outside but was too windy, so moved inside still cool outside. Took the kids to the Kid's Crew for morning session. DH & I went to the Meet & Greet- what a nice bunch of people I have been talking with. Met a few officers- Marc from South Africa filling in for the Hotel director was quite impressive. Great Guy! It didn't get warm until about South Carolina, we saw the funnel in Virginia though-dark clouds, rained a little. But once we got to about SC the sun came out. Ship was a little rocky, but that's to be expected since we are in the ocean and going against the current! No problem, no one got sick, but I had medicine just in case. Spent the day exploring the ship. We went to Galaxy of Stars to check out the Captain's Bridge. What a great find, they even waved to the kids-which I thought was very nice. Ate lunch at Raffles but dinner at Windows- it was lobster night! Didn't dress up with a gown or anything but we all looked nice so we did the family photo. Last one before the oldest leaves for College in the fall, very nice photo if I do say so. We had the most fabulous time at Windows- ask for Jerome & Anju, they work well together. They make wonderful suggestions-even before I know what I would like and they were never wrong. Say hello to Monica & Issac the maitre de's they were wonderful!! My youngest just loved Monica-if you see her tell her "Gabe" say's Hi! Great dinner from the appetizers to the entrEe to the dessert-everything was wonderful. Including the wine we brought with us. Since somehow they found out of anniversary had just past they song "Let me call you sweetheart" and brought out a small cake. It was very nice. We went to Galaxy of the Stars for a drink and to listen to some music, then off to bed. Still didn't drink the Sparkling wine, Sandro, did fill the bucket again with ice, along with the cooler filled with Diet Pepsi. Got a towel animal in each cabin-a Seal.3rd Day Port Canaveral, FL (Tuesday): Didn't do any excursions. We decided to stay on the ship and take advantage of the pools. What a lovely day! We sunned and the kids played not only at the kids pool which we did in the morning but then used the adult pool in the afternoon. It was like having the place to ourselves. My color was really starting to come out, yeah! Kids decided to have dinner at Raffles. DS17 decided he would take them so the adults could have dinner together. We went to Windows again but didn't ask for Jerome & Anju- that was our mistake. L This was my only true frown. I couldn't even tell you the waiter's name because he didn't tell us. Didn't make any suggestions not even from the chef, didn't speak most of the time. We needed to ask for butter, rolls and then for more when they were gone. Since I am one of those people that don't like confrontation I chalked it up to he might be having a bad day. We all do don't we. We didn't linger over dinner tonight; we eat and went to the Casino. Lost a little money not much since I don't gamble a lot. Then back to the room to relax. Still didn't drink the Sparkling wine but Sandro keeps the ice in the bucket- bless him. Received another towel animal- a Snake.
4th Day Nassau, Bahamas (Wednesday): Again Raffles for breakfast-there is defiantly a pattern here. Sunning in the morning- God knows I love the sun. Lunch at where else, Raffles. In between breakfast & lunch and after the kids use the Kids pool until about 3pm when we arrive. We got in late- no biggie- we just don't get to do the Pirates Museum this time since we arrived late. We get dressed and go shopping. Quick exit off the ship- no line. Straw Market- reminds me of Downtown LA shopping- haggle, haggle, haggle. The first price is not the best price. After some shopping we head to the beach we saw from the ship. Next door to the Hilton is a free beach. We had brought a sheet from the ship & towels and everyone already had on their suits so into the ocean we went. What a fun day! Back to the ship for dinner at Windows-never had a line, never had to wait. Asked for Jerome & Anju- wonderful serve is back. Kids decide they want great serve too so they eat with us. Went to the Broadway show DH & the younger boys, wasn't Broadway, which we didn't expect but was very good-just my opinion though. Took the kids back to the cabin to get ready for bed. DH & I went back out to listen to music in Champagne Charlie's-nice 3 person band. Still didn't drink the Sparkling wine but got a towel animal-a Elephant.
5th Day Grand Bahama Island/Freeport (Thursday): Raffles of course for Breakfast, then sunning. No excursions, no getting off since the closest town is a 30 minute cab ride and we are only in port a short time. Kids go to the kid's pool, I watch from a chair with my suit on. Life is great! After lunch back to sunning and swimming. Since this is Kids Crew Dinner night the kids get ready for their dinner. They are so excited. DH & I go to LeBistro for our anniversary dinner. We opt to upgrade to Surf & Turf-which was very tasty. Nice and romantic, wine wasn't bad. After Dinner we walk the deck on a nice stroll, holding hands. Life is good. Pick up the boys from Kid's Crew and head to the line for the Chocolate Buffet- WOW!!! It was great, delicious. Chocolate dipped banana bread & pound cake-both of which are good without chocolate but even better with.J The canapes where delivered today-not bad. If they where not included though I wouldn't have ordered them. Still have to drink that Sparkling wine-maybe tomorrow. Got a towel animal today-a Rabbit6th Day-2nd Sea Day (Friday): Breakfast - Raffles. Nice outside. Kids wanted to get up early-they had a full day planned at the Kid's Center. They went to the morning session. After lunch they went to the afternoon session- Cookies with the Captain-although because of a mix up with nuts being in the cookies, no cookies, just punch & the Captain. We read & sunned, of course. They-the kids rush us to dinner at Windows as they were having a PJ party with the Kid's crew and wanted to make it. We finally decide to bring the Sparkling wine to dinner with us- this way it will get drunk. After they-the kids finish dinner I take them back to the room to change and then off to their party. I was able to get back to Windows in time to have dessert and say goodbye to my favorite servers-Jerome, Anju, Issac & Monica. After some photo's, my oldest DS heads off to his friends and DH & I go to Galaxy of the Stars to listen to some music. Picked up the kids and went back to the cabin. We had a crocodile & the boys had a monkey hanging from the ceiling- it was so cool! Sandro rocks! I finish packing everyone's stuff then off to bed.
Disembark: We picked a late color-Orange since we don't have a flight. Breakfast at Raffles. Then video games at the arcade, we still had quarters left. Then back to the cabin to wait to be called. We got off a little before Noon. No line, got our luggage, gave it to a porter who got us through the customs line in 5 minutes and that's only because the agent had to scan all 6 passports. The other line for those without a porter looked to take a lot longer. That was best tipping I ever spent- off to the rooftop parking to put the luggage into the car.
I have to say NCL is a great organization. Everyone (OK almost everyone) was great. They knew our names-it was great, and it had nothing to do with a tip because we didn't tip everyone. You can tell those on the cruise who came to have fun and relax (meaning cruisers not workers) and those that thought they were worthy of more, better than others-they were the ones not smiling and complaining about everything. I didn't meet a lot of this type- I guess I draw those who are having a great time. I would defiantly recommend NCL and I have- to everyone who will listen. Happy Sailing!!!!