We decided to do a cruise for our anniversary, and we chose New Orleans as the port because we are frequent visitors. We also used the Harrahs discount and had free rooms prior to the cruise through Harrahs. We also like driving, and New Orleans is the closest port to Chicago.
We chose NCL, because one of the things we do not like about traditional cruises are the "formal nights". I do not want to "dress up" while on vacation. NCL was just what we expected, dress up if you want, or wear your swim suit all week long. We did wear resort casual to the formal dining rooms two of the nights.
Embarkation was a breeze. We drove into the Erato Street terminal and Seacaps were right there and took our bags. The parking fee was $98, not too bad. We parked and went through TSA processing line, which took about an hour.
Our cabin was ready at 2:00 PM. First impression was small, and hard to maneuver in the bathroom. But again I have nothing to compare it to. We did get used to it. The cabin was decorated nicely, if a bit dated, but the desk, table and chairs were pretty worn and need replacing. The Spirit was re-fitted this Winter, but I am sure it was only the common areas that got the attention. Balcony had plenty of room. Balcony railing glass had salt scum that spoiled the view, a recurring complaint I see in other reviews. I requested it be cleaned, but my apologetic housekeeper said it must be done by outside crew that rides in the maintenance basket. It was not cleaned on our trip.
Common areas were beautiful, and you can tell they work hard to keep everything spotless.
All food was very good, we did not eat in any of the premium restaurants. Wait staff was superb. Entertainment was also very good. The theater was just gorgeous. We are casino people, and the casino on board was nice. We always found a machine available, and I actually hit a Royal on video poker! Great bar crew in the casino.
We did three shore trips. Costa Maya - toured the Mayan ruins, was a great trip and great guide. Guatemala city tour - glad I went, but will never go back. St. Thomas de Castillo is a very poor area, and there is no "city center" that we saw. Belize - did the trolley tour and jungle bike ride. Recommend both. Belize I could see going back to visit again. Cozumel - no tour, just got off and went through the high-pressure souvenir shopping experience.
Debarkation, another hour of waiting in line. Decided to use the stevedore service which gets you through customs a lot faster. There were two customs agents for the stevedores, only one for the people carrying their own bags. So once you reach your luggage, it puts you right out the door, and he took the bags to my car and packed my trunk. I was so happy I tipped the guy a $20.
All considered, a great time. I would definitely do NCL again, but would chose another ship. Been there and done that!