We try and go somewhere warm every January for my wifes birthday and booked our cruise in late August. We looked at available cruises from a port within driving distance from Nashville Tennessee and New Orleans works well for us as we love and try to support the city a few times a year after Katrina.
We arrived at the terminal at around 1PM and as past NCL guests we were led to the Latitudes check in area for the usual health questions and cabin key assignments. We boarded by 2PM and were advised the cabins would be available at 4PM. Anyone who doesn't understand that is just unreAsonable as the ship has to be just about completely redone within 6 hours as this is a 7 night cruise and leaves New Orleans again at 5PM.
We were actually pleasantly surprised when we arrived at our inside cabin. The new mattresses and linens were really luxurious and the shower as stated before by others is huge by other standards. The bathroom consisted of the traditional wall mounted stool and single sink with shelves on each side for medications, shaving cream etc. A small desk with chair a few wall shelves for the small TV and ice bucket. The doors on the Spirit are solid and pretty with a sea shell for mail on each door. As for the size of the cabin, we basically book the least expensive cabin and stay in the cabin for sleeping, showers and naps. There was a drop down wall bed and a small side chair that is used for storage. The closet is small but has shelves and a safe and around 8 hangers. All in all anyone that books an inside cabin for the price paid gets more than they could possibly expect. We have sailed on Carnival and the odors from the bathroom and undrinkable water were a bad experience.
After getting on board and before we were allowed in our cabin we went to the buffet on deck 12. The food was not outstanding however there was a wide variety to quench just about any taste. There was the traditional casseroles and pasta, fresh fruit, great bread assortments and decent desserts. After stuffing ourselves we toured what we could of the ship. The Spirit had just gone through dry dock for renovations the month before and we were very very impressed with the ship as a whole. It was clean let me repeat, It was clean. The pool deck is a kind of poured floor and there was NO sour smell we experienced with Royal Caribbean the year before and with Carnival in the past. The pool deck is attractive and has 4 hot tubs one on each corner of the pool. There are 2 showers on deck and plenty of lounge chairs. If you like to sit out in the sun the Spirit has many different deck areas all with plenty of chairs. On a recent Carnival cruise if you didn't claim a lounger by 10AM you did without or were in some strange deck area. The Spirit has plenty of seating and plenty of deck areas.
As for the staff, everyone seemed friendly and attentive and there is the usual staff plugging the familiar "cocktails"? question but they weren't pushy like some of the other ships we have been on. Just a wave of the hand and they left you alone. The common areas always seemed clean and the ship has many convenient cubby holes with out of the way restaurants, bars and a nice internet cafe however it was overpriced. If you want at nearly every port there was internet available as low as $3 for 30 minutes.
All in all the Spirit was a very enjoyable experience. The down side was the entertainment in the show room. The musicals were lame but we enjoyed the magic show and really liked the close up show held a couple days later and the magician is a 5 time guiness world record holder for sleight of hand. All in all this was a very enjoyable relaxing cruise.