We are in our mid 60's and this was our 7th cruise, second on NCL. Enjoy train travel so we Amtraked from Indiana to Newark, NJ. Spent the night at the Fairfield Inn. Nice clean room for under $130. Hot breakfast included. Saved a bundle by not staying in NYC. Carmel Limo delivered us to the Spirit at 11:30 and we were on board a few minutes after noon.
We were greeted by members of the crew and were offered a glass of champagne. We went to our cabin to drop off the carry on's. The cabin was ready and we programmed the safe and headed to Windows for lunch. Raffles was also available as well as Cagney's for suite passengers.
The NCL Spirit is ten year old and is starting to show her age with a little rust here and there, carpet in a few places that needed to be replaced and my biggest grip was some of the windows in the public areas had moisture between the glass that has either fogged or discolored them. She went into dry dock following our cruise for three weeks having an engine replaced and I hope they will take care of the rust, carpet and windows. We found the ship to be very easy to get around. It has three sets of passenger elevators and never had to wait long to get from one deck to another. The air conditioning throughout the ship was excellent.
Our cabin was just right. Plenty of room in the closet to hang 13 days of duds for two. Nice shelf above the hangers and five open shelves on the side of the closet. Another cubby hole below the TV and 5 drawers below that. Brand new mattress and plenty of room under to hide all the luggage that arrived before 2pm. Nice little desk and a small couch that turn into a twin size bed. No refrigerator. But could get one if requested. The bathroom is divided into three areas with sliding glass doors. Liquid soap by the sink and shower, shampoo/conditioner and body lotion all by Elemis. The shower was large enough for a fat man. Here is a hint on shower operation. It turns on and off on the left, set the temp on the right. For the balance of the cruise only use the left. Look up and there's the cloths line. The balcony was as expected, two comfortable chairs and a small table.
Let me take a few moments to tell you about dining. Our first lunch was at Windows. We were joined by another CC member and all had very tasty entrees. We had breakfast most mornings here. The menu is not that extensive, but has all the basics. They set up a buffet for fruit, cheese, rolls, cereal and jams. A couple of times they under cooked fried eggs and omelets. When that happened we just went up to Raffles. Most of the time when there we ate outside overlooking the stern and the kids waterslide and pool. Our CC group of thirty, had dinner at Windows three times. The Maitre d, Edgar, set aside three tables for us and we enjoyed the special service they gave us. One of our group required a special diet and Edgar made sure his meals were special. One of the nights we had lobster. A little on the stingy side, only gave us one-half of a tail. I asked for a second and had it in no time at all. We also took a glass of wine, from our cabin, with us to dinner quite often.
Raffles, three eggs stations, three fruit stations, four coffee (great coffee), tea, juice stations, bacon, sausage, hot toast, pan cakes, hash browns, fried potatoes, waffles, bangers, biscuits (hard like hockey pucks) & gravy, a large variety of sweat rolls and things like herring, salmon, kippers etc. To have breakfast here was a little hectic, but once everyone got use to the variety, locations and discovered they were not going to run out of food, things calmed down. It sure would be nice of the folks that come to the buffet would learn to use the hand sanitizer, not to use their hands to pick up food, lick their fingers, cough, think they are the only ones in the area and be considerate of others. We found ship to extremely clean. No Nero virus on our cruise.
Dinner at Cagney's twice. The Maitre d, Roman is one of the reasons our cruise was so special. He treated us like old friends. We would see him in Windows or Raffles in the morning and he would go out of his way to make us feel welcome. He would carry my wife's plate for her, he would seat us, he would make sure ever thing was just the way it should be and he always called us by name. My wife called him Romeo. He told her that Romeo was his twin that worked during the day and wore a white uniform. At night, Roman wore black in Cagney's. Make sure to have the shrimp cocktail, they are as large as the ½ lobster tails we had at Windows. The food at Cagney's was very good, and our server Bethel was outstanding. The chef, Dante came to our table the last night of the cruise and told us he had seen us at Le Bistro the night before. He then went over to Le Bistro and got their chief, Robert and brought him over to see that we did not always eat at Le Bistro. What a pleasure to have Dante, Bethel and Roman to make our meals at Cagney's extra special.
We also had dinner at Le Bistro twice. Don't tell Roman, but the filets were better than Cagney's. The wait staff here are great and on our second visit they remembered our names and what we had last time for dinner and drinks. I was kidding them about that great Jamaican coffee and asked for it with desert. Our waiter brought us a couple of small wine glasses of 151 rum with a teaspoon of coffee, whip cream, grenadine and sugar on the rim (don't get a flame close to this drink and thank God they were small glasses). I asked for it and they made it special for us. I really don't know if the is a after-dinner drink call "Jamaican Coffee", but there is now. Here you can see the galley staff preparing the meals. The Chef Tourmant is Robert. He spent as much time with us as he did running the galley. What great dinners we had at Le Bistro. Thank you Robert.
The Garden has the same menu as Windows. It is a smaller room and only open for dinner. If you go here ask to be seated in Orlando's section. He and his assistant, Abhay are the very best of the wait staff in these two restaurants. You will also find them in the morning at Windows or Raffles. Abhay is 22 and from India, he is the hardest worker with the biggest smile on the ship. He really charmed my wife. She wanted to take him home. That would have been O.K. with me, but they wouldn't let me take his place and work for Orlando. Our CC group also had dinner here the last night at sea.
We had lunch a few times at the Bier Garten. Make your own burgers, hot dogs, German sausage, sauerkraut, potato salad, coleslaw, pickles, cheese and fry's. This can all be washed down with a Helmet of Beer. Six Heineken $25.80. They also had Bud Light on special, buy 5 get 2 free. Lots of choices of beer. Did Henry's Pub a few times and enjoyed the Fish and Chips, popcorn, pretzels. Wife said the wings were boring.
We did not eat at any of the Oriental restaurants or the Blue Lagoon, but heard the food was good and fun places to eat.
Casino has a load of "One Arm Bandits" Craps, Roulette, Black Jack and Poker. Wife said the machines were tight. I only play craps and roulette. Watched "0" come up four times in a row. Needless to say, I was not wise enough to put any money on that non-number. Get a new "Players Card" and the give a $20 for $10 slot play, there is a $5 match play in the coupon book and a few other deals.
We went to a couple of great shows, the Magician and the Hypnotist. Heard from others that some of the shows we missed were very good also. Loads of activities such as BINGO and Trivia. Bands and groups playing everywhere.
We arranged our own shore excursions with other CC members.. Did Godfrey in St. Thomas, half day with Aruba Fantasy tours, Lamanai Mayan ruins in Belize, Cozumel Beach Break, and in Roatan, Fins and Flippers, our favorite.
When arrived in New Orleans and NCL did a great job getting us off the ship, U.S. Customs did a lousy job clearing everyone. It took over one hour from the end of the gang plank to the customs desk. You would think, when customs knows 3000 people are going to come ashore starting at 8am they would have more then eight stations to handle the crowd. Good thing we didn't have to catch our train, back to Indiana, till 1:45pm.
We were pleased with NCL and The Spirit. Would take this ship again and highly recommend the cabin, food, entertainment, activities and especially crew.