This was our 3rd NCL Cruise - Hawaii, November 07 and Alaska June 08...
- New Orleans Hotel - We Arrived in New Orleans Thursday night March 19th about 11pm and stayed at the Drury Inn. We got a suite. Our suite was suppose to have a king bed and pull out sofa but instead had two double beds and a pull out sofa but we had a very nice bathroom with whirlpool tub and separate shower. Our friends who we traveled with got the king bed and pull out sofa but just a normal bathroom. We had stayed in a Drury Inn twice before in San Antonio and liked it so much we thought we would try this one. This Drury Inn is smaller and not quite as nice as the one in San Antonio but still very nice. They have hot breakfast in morning and cocktails at nite (limit of 3 per person). The sitting area is small and you must get there early for cocktails (5:30 to 7:00) if you want a seat. Breakfast was crowded but we were able to find seats whenever we went down. They ran out of Sausage our first morning but the breakfast was a good deal.
- New Orleans Activities - We had two days in New Orleans, Friday March 20th and Saturday March 21st. The weather was perfect in the mid 70's. Our first morning we took a 2 1/2 hour combo City/Katrina tour with Greyline. It was a very interesting and informative tour for us adults but our 13 year old girls slept through most of it and thought it was boring. We walked our feet off and even traumatized our daughter going down Bourbon Street (spring break no less) as it makes Las Vegas look like Disneyland in comparison. We ate at Deanies Seafood Restaurant in the French Quarter and the portions are very generous so be prepared. This original Restaurant is a local favorite our tour driver told us tho this one in the French Quarter is suppose to have same food. It was very good. We saw it on "Man Verses Food". We also had to visit Cafe Du Monde for Beignets and coffee. On Saturday we took a carriage ride from Jackson Square around the french quarter tho we could not even understand our driver but we still had a good time. In the evening we took a ghost tour which was a fun way to finish up our time in New Orleans.
- The NCL Spirit - We had to check out of our room at 11 so we started the trek down to the port. It's a long walk but definitely do-able. However, as we were walking a taxi driver came by and convinced us to go with him to the pier for his special price of $5 a head. On top of that we got $9 cab fare from port to airport (normally 12) by calling our taxi driver when we got off ship. We had to wait about 25 minutes for him but we were in no hurry so it was a win deal for us. The Spirit is smaller than the Pearl and Jade (Pride of Hawaii) that we had sailed on before but still very nice. We had a Balcony Cabin and after staying in an inside cabin on our previous cruises it was awesome. It would be hard to go back to inside room. The food on this ship was JUST OK. There was not near the selection on this ship as on our previous cruises. They had soft serve ice cream in the buffet "Raffles" and sometimes they would also have a couple types of hard ice cream. They also had a Crape station open during dinner from 5:30 to 9:00. The Main Dining Room "Windows" and also "Garden" have the same menu which changes daily. Very limited choices but the food was good for the most part. They no longer have Lobster night but did serve surf and turf "Small Lobster Tails and Grouper Gulf Fish" one night. We ate at two pay restaurants. The Italian Restaurant was $10 a head and was good for the price and to break things up a bit. Cagney's is the ships steak house and is a must even at $20 a head (Make reservations when you get on ship). Be sure and have the Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp appetizer and Filet Mignon. The Blue Lagoon has all the comfort foods and is very very good but it's very very small and you may have to wait to get a seat. Be sure and have the Tomato Soup, Chicken Wings, Burgers and Cheese Cake - We snacked here at least 3 times. NCL now charges $12 a head for anyone 2 and up. It use to be $10 ahead and kids were half price. We went to all but one of the shows in the Stardust Theatre and enjoyed most of them especially the comedian "Sam Fedele". We liked him so much that we also went to his adult show in the Galaxy Lounge late nite. Our Steward was awesome and he called us by first name almost immediately. Our 13 year old girls had a blast running around the ship with all their new friends on the ship. On our last sea day was the only cloudy day of our cruise and we had 13 to 20 foot waves towards evening for about 5 hours which made for an interesting experience as some people were not feeling to great as the ship was really rocking and rolling. The Spirit was a nice ship and we didn't really notice to many areas that were worn down outside of some windows in the Galaxy Lounge that were fogged over so you couldn't see outside. We always saw people working around the ship when walking around. We carried our own luggage off ship and had no problems what-so-ever and the lines went pretty quickly.
- Shore Excursions - We learned one thing on this cruise "DO NOT TAKE SHIP SHORE EXCURSIONS, BOOK YOUR OWN INSTEAD". You can save money and/or get longer excursions doing them on your own. The only exception to this would be if they tender you into port and you want an early excursion then you might want to book with the ship as you will be able to get off the ship immediately. There are tons of tour companies at every port with lots of tours to choose from so no problem finding something to do even if you don't make plans in advance. - Costa Maya - This was our least favorite port. It is just a cruise ship port and the people are not willing to bargain much here. It is pretty small as well. If you don't want to do anything but hang out they have a swimming pool here that is free. We took a tour of the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins with NCL. The ruins were very cool but our tour guide was not. It was only his second time doing the tour. It was about a 45 minute drive to and from the ruins and he called it rest time. It would have been nice if he would have talked and told us facts and interesting stories or something. - Guatemala - Fun port. Local vendors selling merchandise in large building at port. This is the place to shop as they are willing to bargain here. The people here are very friendly. We took the Las Escoba's Waterfall Voyage with NCL. Had fun time on this tour swimming in the water and walking in the rainforest. Too bad it was such a short tour as would have enjoyed staying at the waterfalls longer. - Belize - This is a tender port and the ship parks a long ways out from Belize City. It probably takes close to 20 minutes to get to shore from tender boat. Very commercial here and lots of people. We did the Beach Break and Snorkel with NCL. The snorkeling and beach break spots were right next to each other on a tiny little island out in the middle of ocean. Snorkeling was somewhat of a disappointment as lots of waves and fish were small and down on ocean floor in coral so you had to dive down to get good look at fish. It would have been better to just do the beach break if you have ever snorkeled before - this was not good snorkeling. Just hanging out at the beach on the white sand drinking beers was great. They serve Rum Punch after the snorkel and that has a kick to it. - Cozumel - We had planned on going to a snorkeling beach "Chankannab" on our own but after talking to our taxi driver we ended up going to Paradise Beach. This was a nice swimming beach but it was not good at all for snorkeling. For $10 a piece you get snorkeling gear (not needed here) and can use their water activities such as trampoline, floating beach chairs, slide. It was a lot of fun and we did enjoy our day even tho we were a bit disappointed that we didn't get to do any snorkeling. Next trip :)