Review of July 20, 2008 cruise on Norwegian Spirit to Florida and Bahamas This is my third cruise. The first two were with Carnival and one was also to Nassau. On this cruise, I traveled with my friend who has sailed on Celebrity. This was a very enjoyable and relaxing cruise.
Embarkation: Initially there was some confusion at the pier as to where we should be dropped off, but check in was easy. We were not allowed to board until 12:30, while waiting, you could purchase the soda cards for the cruise. As I only drink one or two glasses a day I didn't purchase one and am not sure how much they cost. One disappointment when boarding was we did not get the welcome aboard photo. I am not sure if the photographer was not set up or if we missed it somehow.But there were so many other opportunities for pictures so it was not a big deal. We were greeted with champagne and mimosas on board the ship. We ate lunch at Raffles as it was not very crowded when we got there.
Room: We had a balcony room on the tenth floor. Balcony came in handy on the day we returned to NYC as we sailed right past the Statue of Liberty and were able to see it from our balcony. Room was functional, a little small but we were not in the room much so it was fine. Shower area was fine. Toilet area was a little small and could be a tight squeeze for some people. Cabin Stewards were nice. Room was always clean, one night we found candy, one night cookies, and we were also able to get some fruit.
Dining: We ate at Le Bistro, La Trattoria, and Shogun. We liked Shogun the best, but the other two were fine. We usually ate breakfast and lunch at Raffles Buffet. Quite a selection to choose from. We never had any problems finding seats, if we could not eat inside Raffles, we could always find something on the deck. Be warned, since many people enter the buffet area from the pool area, the floor is often slippery. I saw many people slip and slide while carrying their meals. We ate one breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Windows. Breakfast and dinner were OK, but the lunch service at Windows was very slow. It took almost an hour to be served soup and a sandwich and the dining room was almost empty. Not sure if that was typical or not, as we did not eat lunch in Windows again. We also tried the Blue Lagoon Cafe. Typical finger food. Just try to go there off times otherwise it was crowded and service was a little slow. We never had any problems getting reservations at the specialty restaurants, but our times were flexible.
Entertainment/Activities: There was a different show each night. The magic and illusion show was great. Highly recommend it. During the day there were a variety of things to do. There always seemed to be some music playing somewhere either at one of the lounges or by the pool. Bingo, there were some afternoon shows, as well as some lectures. On sea days the casino was opened also.
Port Canaveral: We did the Wildlife Encounter. It was a great way to see manatees and dolphins on a pontoon boat ride.
Nassau: I did the Ardasta Zoo excursion. It also stopped at one of the local historical sites. I enjoyed it. My friend went on one of the Atlantis excursions-the Beach Break. She said the beach itself was beautiful, but the time element of getting to the resort and back did not make the cost of the trip seem worthwhile. With both excursions, there was mass confusion on the piers finding the tour guides. Even the NCL staff did not seem to know where the tours were meeting. Also on the Florida day the ship arrived into port late and everyone was trying to get off the ship at the same time. Just be prepared to wait.
Ship: Very pretty and elegantly decorated. I enjoyed the ship itself and would often find quiet nooks to relax and people watch or just read. The observatory by the Galaxy of the Stars lounge is a great place for relaxing and watching the ocean going by. It was so nice to just walk around the deck and take in the sights and sounds of everything.
Pool: Not enough lounge chairs by the pool for everyone, people were actually waking up early and claiming chairs but not returning to them until late in the day. As I am not a pool person, it did not matter to me, but I know other people were upset.
Disembarkation: Very smooth-we were off the ship and in our limo by 10:45 am. Everyone chose a time based upon a color coding system. Also if you can carry off all of your luggage you can do the express walk off and be one of the first off the ship.
Overall Impressions: Very peaceful and relaxing cruise. Despite some snags I enjoyed it very much. I would try freestyle cruising again on NCL-just a different itinerary as I have been to the Bahamas twice now on a cruise. All in all the food was good; the staff members I encountered were for the most part friendly and helpful. Very positive experience.