Sailing on the Spirit was everything we expected, and more. We had booked a BE cabin on deck 9 14 months ago and when the price dropped in Oct.(Nov.?), I called the TA and was "upgraded" to BA on deck 11. Since at time of booking there was a $75. OBC promo and I never got confirmation, I called the TA to confirm it, and was happily surprised that we ended up with $75. PP.
Left Louisville early on the 6th, flew Delta (thru Atlanta) with no problems. Used points to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Conv. Ctr. which is very close to the terminal. However, Sunday a.m. when I checked the walkway doors they were locked, so had to taxi to the ship.
As previously stated in other reviews, the embarkation process was a mess. We arrived at 11 and got boarding #16 and sat at the far end of the waiting room, not knowing the PA system didn't work; so when we finally inquired, we found that #16 had been called and were finally aboard about 1 pm. We loved New Orleans (I had never been). We lunched at La Bayou on Bourbon and had dinner at Mulate's, with live Cajun music ! Had a lovely, quiet lunch at Windows and we ended up having all 3 meals mostly there and the Garden Room. Food and service were consistently fine and I loved the escargot, but having eaten a ton of beef in my 60 years, the Beef Wellington was possibly the most tender piece of beef I have ever had. It literally melted in my mouth. The first night we used the 2 for 1 coupon to eat at Shogun, which was excellent. The waitress even talked us into ordering more dishes to try, so we did. Was pleasantly surprised that Joel Sonnier was still aboard and enjoyed his first and last night concerts. Ran into his guitar player at the airport Sunday and told him how much I enjoyed his work as he was on the same flight to Atlanta. He asked if I'd been to the pool party show, when I said no,he said it was horrible.
Monday we enjoyed the Meet & Greet at Henry's with the mystery gift exchange. Thanks again, Ralph and Paige! Attended the Mayan lecture since we had Altun Ha coming up in Belize. Get there early as it was in a small space and seats went fast. Had another good lunch at Windows. Try the blueberry soup. Went to about half the stretch classes, which were good; but take your pool towel as the Maharini floors are very hard and somewhat cold. BTW, room service was 25 min. early due to the volume of customers; so when we used it again, we were ready for that. Got a cute towel bunny Monday night.
The anniversary package is a great deal. The wine and strawberries were delivered promptly the first day and the canapes on Friday (caviar, deviled eggs, etc.) were very good. Missed the champagne and cake party on Monday, so did not get the photo. Used the package Monday night at Le Bistro, which was excellent. The waiters even sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and presented us with a cake, which we enjoyed throughout the week. When perusing the photos of the performers, I recognized one of the dancers who I had previously worked with and we were later able to get in touch with her and have dinner together and get a backstage tour. Thought that "On the Radio" and "On Broadway" were both very well done, particularly the female singers.
Tuesday had breakfast in Garden Room. Looked for a taxi into the port at Mahahual but eventually found out we could ride a bus; which was fine. It dropped us off and we sat on a beautiful beach with hardly anyone else nearby enjoying beer, margaritas and guacamole thanks to the friendly Diego at the El Capital(?). Were serenaded on the beach by a lone mariachi and his $2 guitar. Approached by a sad dog on the beach that apparently understood English since when I said, "I got nothin'" he turned and strolled away. Weren't overly hassled by vendors. Road trolley from pier to port. Back to the ship and after a nap had lunch at the Bier Garden. Second City show that night was just O.K.
Wednesday, Santo Tomas: Had booked the nature and culture cruise ( our only excur. booked thru NCL) and my confirmation said 11:00 a.m. However, I failed to check the tickets which said 8 something, so we missed it and ended up on the town trolley tour instead sucking on two Gallo beers. Saw both Richard Burr's shows and his History of Magic lecture; and although I was familiar with most of the illusions, I enjoyed him very much.
Thursday, Belize: Got to Champagne Charlie's at 8:00 a.m. for tender tickets with no problems, since I had apprehension about booking Altun Ha ruins independently of NCL. Found our "Best of the Caribbean" group, and had a very knowledgeable guide who was of Mayan descent and quite informative about Mayans as well as Belize itself. Upon return had planned to have lunch in a local restaurant, but both possibilities were closed. We were approached by a taxi driver who said he could take us to " the best restaurant in town." It turned out to be the Bird's Isle, and he said he'd return in an hour to pick us up, and he was! His name was Alton, and he was quite friendly, informative, and well-spoken on the drive.
Friday, Cozumel: Atlantis Submarine excursion canceled due to high wind and choppy water. Small boats could not take us to the sub. So we had lunch across the street at La Mission and loved it. Al fresco dining with the outdoor grill, the smell of roasted garlic along with the Sol beer appeased our disappointment about the sub. Then taxied to Museo de Cozumel, which was quite interesting. Don't miss the authentic, fully-furnished Mayan hut in the courtyard complete with a docent to explain the items. The crew show was pleasant and we appreciated the extra efforts of all involved. We're suckers for the sentiment when officers, staff and crew marched in at the conclusion. As per usual, we missed the late-night parties and chocolate buffet.
Saturday, at sea: Stretch class, magic show, Joel Sonnier Sunday: We had a late flight, so we took a taxi to the Gray Line Lighthouse Ticket Office and caught a two-hour Super City Tour with stops at St. Louis Cemetery No.3 and City Park. Enjoyed the tour very much; the guide squeezed a lot into two hours. It was very informative and what we saw of New Orleans looked great. Had to drag our bags to the ticket office, but they stayed on the tour bus until we cabbed to the airport, so it wasn't too inconvenient. P.S. For the DON'T MISS EVENT, which is at your leisure (always the best time) check the back page of the Daily for the bridge viewing room - an amazing living museum.
Thanks to all the info-sharing by you Cruise Critics, our week turned out to be everything we were hoping for and expecting ! Our first NCL experience will, I hope, not be our last. P.P.S. LOVED the new firm bed, but watch out for the sliding balcony door, as it is heavy and hard to open. I tweaked a back muscle on it, but still preferred it to the Carnival door which opened "in".