Our group of 11 consisted of: Me, DH, DS~5, DD~2 My husband's parents My husband's brother, his wife, and their 18 month old son My SIL's sister and her boyfriend
This was my family's 2nd cruise out of NY on the Spirit. We did the 8 day itinerary last spring. In addition, DH and I have sailed Celebrity and Carnival. This was cruise #2 for my children and the first time they participated in the scheduled kid's crew activities.
We arrived at the pier around 11:15. We made our way to the terminal, which to our delight was not too busy at this point. We were one of the first groups to get on line to go through the security checkpoint. The 8 day sailing was still disembarking, so once we got through, we were instructed to have a seat. At this time, close to noon, there were plenty of seats. At a little before 1 our number was called and we boarded the ship!
Like last year, we headed straight to Windows for lunch. We were seated right away and enjoyed our first of many GREAT meals.
By the time we were done with lunch, our room was ready and our luggage had arrived. Our cabin (deck 10 aft) was a LARGE inside cabin (not a handicapped) in a GREAT location. It was right around the corner from the main elevator bank. It was two levels below the buffet and right down the hall from the arcade, kid's crew, and kid's pool area. The PERFECT spot for those with children. Our cabin had no cabins above, below, or next to it so it was really quiet.
Windows was our favorite place to eat last cruise, so we chose it for our first dinner. Other than one dinner at Cagney's, we ate here every night. We never had to wait more than a couple minutes for a table (even the nights we dined with the entire group!). The service was good for the most part. Some nights took longer than others to get our food. IMO, the portions were perfect. The waiters were very accommodating. It was never a problem to order more than one of anything or request something not on the menu.
After dinner, the kids got their first taste of the kid's crew. My son ran right in and got busy having fun. My DD was a little more apprehensive. She shed a few tears as this was her first time going off on her own. The counselors were WONDERFUL. They held her until she stopped crying (usually 10 minutes) and after that she had a BLAST!
The next morning, we ate breakfast at the buffet. It was pretty much as I remember it to be from the last trip. Good selection of breakfast foods. A little something for everyone. The food was plentiful and always served at the correct temp.
After breakfast, I dropped the kids of at the crew. Again, my DD was a little sad to be leaving me, but after about 10 minutes of being held by the counselors she was fine.
Because of the weather, the rest of the day was spent doing indoor activities. The kids had a blast at the arcade. My son went through lots of quarters this trip! DD and her baby cousin were just content with running around and pretending to play. Since our last trip, they have added a few games including a virtual reality roller coaster ride which was really cool!
For formal night, we opted to eat at Windows once again. The food and service were both top notch. We had 9 in our party this evening, so we made a reservation for 6pm. We were seated right away.
After dinner, we dropped the kids back at the crew. DH and I took a nice walk around deck seven and watched as the sun came down.
After the rest of our group came out of the show, we headed over to Champagne Charlie's to listen to some music and have a few drinks. I highly recommend the raspberry chocolate martini.
When I picked the kids up from the crew, their faces were painted like a prince and princess. They looked adorable!
I took the kids to bed and DH went to the casino with his brother. If you are going to spend any time in the casino at night be sure to sign up for a Casinos at Sea card. Free drinks!
In all honesty, I didn't pick this cruise for the ports. I was really looking forward to just being back on the Spirit again, this time with friends and family.
Because of the engine problem, our itinerary was altered back in Feb. I have to admit, I actually liked getting to Florida and Nassau later in the day. This gave us plenty of time to enjoy breakfast and lunch on the ship before disembarking. The kids got to play at the crew in the morning which allowed DH and I to relax. Even with the bad weather the first couple days and engine problem, the captain was able to maintain 23 knots throughout the week and make to each port early.
Pt Canaveral: With two kids, I wanted to keep this one simple so we booked the Cocoa Beach Shuttle through the ship. I have to say, I wasn't really impressed with Cocoa Beach or the surrounding area. IMO, LBI NJ, where we spend our summers is much nicer. The one highlight was Ron Jon's Surf Shop. This place is HUGE. Lots of great shopping.
Nassau: Right off the ship, we headed through the crowds to the beautiful British Colonial Hilton. For $20/adult we were able to use their facilities, beach, pool, kayaks, beach toys, and towels. The hotel and grounds are BEAUTIFUL. I have to say, our time at the BCH was my favorite thing about this vacation. It was so relaxing. The kids played in the sand and splashed in the clam water while DH and I relaxed. We took turns going out in the kayaks. This was a lot of fun!
We headed back to the ship at around 5pm for an early dinner. After dinner, we took a taxi over to the Atlantis to just look around. All I can say is AMAZING! The kids were mesmerized by all the fish in the Atlantis' massive aquarium. We walked down to the marina village. This is a nice outdoor area with shopping, music, ice cream, etc.
Freeport: Since we were only going to be here from 7-1, we opted to stay on the ship. We did get off briefly, to walk around the straw market and take pictures of the ship, but other than that there is nothing to do on the pier. It was a beautiful day, so we enjoyed some time at the pool.
After leaving Freeport, I headed down to the spa for a hand treatment, manicure, and pedicure. My time in the spa was nice and relaxing. Between the soothing music, the rocking of the boat, and the hand and arm massage, I nearly fell asleep. The treatments were overpriced compared to what you would pay on land, but it was nice to get pampered.
The previous morning, I made a reservation for Cagney's for tonight. Much to our delight, when we showed up for dinner, they led us into the private back room. It was so nice to have an entire room to ourselves. I thought the food and service were outstanding.
At 8pm the Kid's crew reopened and I dropped my two guys off. The theme was "It's a Zoo in Here". When I picked them up a few hours later, they had their faces painted. My DD was a cat and my DS was a bee!
Tonight my DH and BIL volunteered to watch the kids so us girls could go to the Chocolate Buffet at 11pm. Like last time, it was a sight to see. Since we had a big meal at Cagney's a few hours earlier, I didn't eat too much but what I had was pretty good.
Friday was our last day at sea. The kid's had a full day of activities at the kid's crew so DH and I were able to relax by the pool for most of the morning.
For dinner, we decided to eat as a group (minus my 2 kids) one last time. The 9 of us showed up at Windows a little after 7pm and were seated shortly after. This was the latest that we dined this week and the service was a lot slower than usual. The dinner itself was very good though.
Disembarkation: After doing the 8 day itinerary last year, I expected this trip to fly by. This was not the case. This trip didn't come and go in the blink of an eye, but it didn't drag either. It was just right.
Since a car service was scheduled to pick us up at noon, we picked 11:30am as our disembark time. A little before 11:30 they announced our color. Unlike last year, there was no line to get off the ship. We just walked right out, had our cards dinged one more time, and off the Spirit we were!
Once in the terminal we found our luggage right away. We tipped a porter to take all of our bags. We got to go through a special customs line for people using porters. Once outside, we called our limo company and told the driver what pole we were at. 10 minutes later he pulled up and we waved good-bye to the Spirit.
The Not So Perfect:
~I am a VERY positive and patient person, but I have to say after dealing with NCL customer service reps over the course of the past two years, I really don't have anything positive to say about this aspect of NCL. IMO, they are not adequately trained to deal with problems (or even answer simple questions correctly).
~Check your onboard account summary daily! For the first few days of our cruise, every time my FIL charged something using his card it got added to our account. In addition, my BIL was charged twice for a soda card. It took a lot of time on their part, but the problem eventually got fixed.
~The staff (especially the room stewards) seemed to be spread a lot thinner this trip than last. I fear that this will only get worse when all the 2.0 changes take effect. On the other hand, lying by the pool in the AM we were constantly bombarded with people aggressively trying to sell us drinks.
~Parents: Don't leave your little ones lovies anywhere near the bed when you leave your cabin. My son's blankie went missing during turn down service and was never found.
~Not a huge deal, but we were advised not to use our safe this trip. The machine they use to open jammed safes is broken.
The Best of the Best: Now that I have the complaints out of the way on to what was GREAT about our trip:
The Ship~The Spirit is beautiful and elegant. Windows is by far the nicest dining room from any of my cruises. The ship itself was well maintained and very clean.
The Food~IMO the food this trip was even better than last time. I can not think of one dish that I did not enjoy.
Cagney's~Food and service were top notch. Getting to eat in the private back room was a real treat. Well worth the minimal cover charge.
The Kid's Crew Staff~SUPERB
Deck 10 AFT Kid's facilities~AWESOME
Cabin size and location~Ideal
Fellow Passengers~A nice mix of people: young, old, families, couples, etc. Everyone (except for a few sour pusses) appeared to be having a great cruise.
Disembarkation: Very well organized.
I could go on and on and on. . .