I cruised on the Spirit in May 2008. We visited San Juan, Tortola and Samana. Let me tell you the ports of call were fabulous. I have always loved San Juan. However do not pay for the tours in certain areas. If you get off the ship and bypass the first bunch of tour busses, etc. you will get a nice tour from a local with a van, etc. This is the way to go. Was great. Our guy was originally from NY and knew absolutely everything about Puerto Rico. My father is a history teacher and kept trying to stump him. He could not. The island is fantastic. Have the driver drop you off in the old part of the city and walk through the stores. Del Sol is great with all the changing colors, the Butterfly people store on one of the side streets is also amazing. I love old San Juan. When we got to Tortola we took the island and beach tour. We toured the island and then were dropped off at a beach. There we were given lunch (very good) and spent 2 1/2 hours at the beach. That is just about the right amount of time. Great place Tortola, make sure that you take pictures from the tops of the mountains (if you do not like mountains and open air busses however this may not be the tour for you. I am always amazed at how hilly these islands are.
The third port of call, Samana was great. We took the Cayo Levantado beach tour. Let me recommend to you that you take a tour when you are tendering. Getting off the ship is easier if you have a booked tour. Let me caution you however that the Spirit staff is disorganized and does not get anything done on time. Cayo Levantado was fantastic. The beach is truly something you have to see. Be careful however of the local vendors. They want to sell you everything. However they will if pushed give you a great deal on their products. The only issue I had this day was getting from the tender to the ship. NCL had us getting back onto the ship on the side of the ship where the waves were getting to the point of dangerous. The tender kept tossing about and getting off it was an adventure. The problem would have been solved by moving the entrance to the other side (which was open also).
Now with the ports of call identified and praised lets turn to the ship. I have been on 4 cruises. Crowne and Royal Caribbean Radiance and Serenade and NCL Spirit. Spirit is by far the worst ship I have been on in terms of Customer service, entertainment and dining. Freestyle cruising is not a good idea. Plus the automatic tipping is leading to a staff that have forgotten how to serve and treat its customers. Plus NCL nickels and dimes you for everything.
I did find some satisfaction at the end. For those of you who have complained about service etc. I found out that you can request your 10 dollars a day per person back. I asked them to refund my money for the automatic 10 dollars and while they gave me a hard time and did not want to help me, due to the fact that I was only the wife and they wanted my husband's approval to do this, they finally did give me back the $160 they owed me. I then gave a tip to my cabin boy (less than normal because he was not that good).
None of the dining was up to the standard that I have gotten at Royal Caribbean. In fact nothing was.
I was very frustrated because this was my parents first and probably only cruise. They did enjoy the cruise and they had a fantastic cabin steward. However I would like to have shown them what a "Real" cruise should be like.
This ship needs to be updated, the staff needs an attitude adjustment and in general NCL needs to be more aware that people are paying them. We do not want your attitude and poor customer service. I would say this was the worst cruise I have ever been on. Was is bad, NO but it had the potential to be so much better. I will never ever ever cruise with NCL again. I will go back to Royal Caribbean the next time I sail. The only reason I even gave NCL a chance is because of the NYC departure and the ports of call.
I think I have said Enough.