Norwegian Spirit, roundtrip from Boston to King's Wharf, Bermuda. Roger and I sailed this cruise in a balcony stateroom, with our friend, Dave, in a solo oceanview cabin. This was our first NCL cruise and our first visit to Bermuda, and we thoroughly enjoyed both. We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Holiday Inn Brookline, and we took the "Green Line" right outside the hotel to the Copley stop, to enjoy a pre-cruise dinner at Legal Seafood, which was wonderful. The next morning, we grabbed a ride with King's Shuttle to the pier early, and we made arrangements for the same shuttle to pick us up after the cruise. After a short wait, we were one of the first passengers aboard the ship shortly before noon. We loved the warm greeting with a glass of champagne as we boarded the ship. We grabbed a plate from the buffet and settled in at a table to dine al fresco in the aft Raffles bar. We struck up a conversation with another couple at a nearby table, Jo and Bob, who we enjoyed meeting throughout the cruise. We dropped off our laptops in our room by 1 pm, although the rooms weren't ready to be occupied until 2 pm. Our next stop was a stop at the spa to book a hair appointment for our Dave, then we off to make our dinner reservations. We booked Le Bistro for that evening, and we also booked "The Enchanted Dinner" for Tuesday night, which we highly recommend.
The muster drill was quick and painless at 3 pm, and we were sailing away by shortly after 4 pm. We were supposed to meet with some other guests at the aft bar, but it was just the three of us and Jake and Nancy, so we moved on to the Sailaway party. I enjoyed dancing by the Lido pool, while Roger watched the shore get farther and farther away. The weather was a little cool, but we were on vacation! Our luggage was there when we returned to our room, so we unpacked quickly and dressed for a cocktail hour with our group in the Majaharini's Lounge. Our friend headed to the Singles Social in Champagne's Charlie's, but no NCL staffer ever arrived, and he didn't see any other singles, so we headed on to our dinner in Le Bistro.
Got to say ... this is the best $15 per person meal we've ever enjoyed. We all ordered something different, so we could try a lot of things. My escargot appetizer won out over Dave's asparagus and scallops and Roger's scallops. And, everyone agreed my cream of mushroom soup was absolutely the best. But, Dave's tenderloin steak and Roger's rack of lamb were much better than the lobster dish I paid extra for. Our meal ended with a crepe suzette dessert prepared flaming tableside by our server, Horace, and his lovely assistant waiter, Anyu. Ask for them when you make your reservation, as they're absolutely the best. And, we highly recommend eating in one of the specialty restaurants the first couple nights, because you'll get exceptional service while they sit mostly empty. We wrapped up the evening in Henry's Pub, where Carrie Stone entertained us with her songs and guitar stylings.
We had rough seas for the next 24 hours, but everyone seemed to manage them quite well. Breakfast in the Windows dining room was just like any breakfast at sea, so we decided to have lunch in Henry's Pub, where we could choose from wings, fish and chips, and raw oysters on the half shell. We had them all, and they were great. (The oysters were half dozen for $5 or dozen for $10.) We met up with friends in Henry's every sea day around lunch time, before dinner, and usually wrapped up our evening there. Our evening meals in the Windows dining room were just so so ... adequate food and service ... about what you'd expect from a dining room serving a thousand people. Shorts were prohibited in the evening in the Windows dining room, but permitted in the Garden dining room. The Garden dining room was much smaller and filled up quickly each night, probably due to the more relaxed dress code.
Sea days offered opportunities to learn to make sushi and enjoy sake, wine tastings, martini tastings, and beer tasting with food pairings, and margarita mania, so each of us enjoyed one or more of these fun activities. David visited the spa twice, once for a haircut and once for a seawood massage, both of which he thoroughly enjoyed.
We ended up dining in Le Bistro for two evening meals, had one meal in the Garden dining room when we were dressed more casually to head back into Bermuda for an evening excursion, and all the rest of our meals in the Windows dining room, except for our Tuesday night "Enchanted Dinner".
The Spirit has a unique Art Gallery, that's up one small flight of stairs from deck 7 beside one entrance to the Casino. Bruce Van der Boon, the concierge, met us at the bottom of the steps to welcome us to our special evening, and we were escorted to our waiting table. We had looked for Carrie Stone to enjoy her music with a pre-cruise drink before dinner, but she wasn't listed anywhere. We were delighted to find she was the live entertainment for our dinner, and our table was right next to where she performed. The candlelit atmosphere surrounded by fabulous art and Carrie singing, created the perfect ambience for a wonderful dinner. We soon learned that our server, Kelton Fox, was roommates with Horace Reed ... our fabulous server from Le Bistro, and the next time we went to the Windows dining room, we asked to be seated at a table in Mr. Fox's area, and we suggest you do the same.
For this evening, we had a choice of appetizers and soups, one salad was offered, and we had a choice of entrees ... both of which were surf and turf. Shrimp Cocktail was one of the appetizers, with giant shrimp, not tiny ones like we received in the dining room. We were served champagne when we arrived, with a nice white and red wine served as the meal continued. Many of the ship's officers stopped by our table throughout the evening, including the Hotel Director, the Food and Beverage Manager, and several chefs. At the end of our meal, we were presented with a special dessert ... and all I can say is ... it was fabulous. The $65 per person price tag included all the wine and champagne as well.
The White Hot Party was the same evening, so we headed back to our staterooms to change into our mostly white attire and headed up to the Galaxy of the Stars to dance the night away. NCL knows how to throw a great party ... this was the best party at sea we've ever experienced, and we loved dancing the night away. Thanks to Dave, Jake, and Roger, for keeping the ladies in our group up and dancing all evening.
We enjoyed a "Behind the Scenes" tour, where we saw lots of the ship, plus a preview of Thursday evening's Chocolate Buffet displayed in the Galley. Be sure to take the circular staircase in the Galaxy of the Stars down into a small room where you can watch the activity on the bridge and view where the ship is headed from the Captain's view.
We were lucky enough to catch two performances by the acapello singing group, Home Free, which were leaving the ship with us. Selwyn Wright did a great job entertaining on the piano, and Amadeus offered some great dance music. We enjoyed the Second City troupe workshop one sea day afternoon, teaching us improv comedy, and Dave was lucky enough to perform with them in one of their evening performances.
We only caught two evening shows ... the magician and the farewell crew talent show. We were having two much fun enjoying our dinners and Carrie Stone the other nights. The Stardust Theatre was arranged to give all the guests a fabulous view of the stage, but the entrance to this theatre brings you into the front of the theatre. We arrived close to show time for our first visit to see the magician, and we saw seats on the front row available, so we slipped into them. The server slipped over to explain these seats were reserved for guests purchasing a minimum of $25 per couple in drinks so we ordered drinks, because they were great seats for a magic show! We had heard about NCL's fountain at the end of the talent show, so we were disappointed that this was not included on this trip.
Our stateroom was small, so we were glad we had a balcony. Our stateroom stewards, Butty (prounounced booty) and Day, kept it perfect, and it seemed they were always outside our room to greet us warmly as we came and went.
We loved Bermuda. When we arrived at around 11 a.m. on Sunday, we bypassed the long lines of people buying bus/ferry passes in the terminal building and got ours in the visitor information center in the town square. We took a bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach, where we relaxed for a while, then followed a beach path to several nearby beaches. We wore ourselves out doing this, and each one looked the same as the next, so we don't recommend this adventure. That evening we took a ship excursion, the Bermuda Triangle Glass Bottom Boat excursion. It was a great evening cruise, but you definitely need to dress warm, because you're on the water. We had our first (of many) Rum Swizzles on this excursion.
Monday morning, Dave headed out for a two-tank scuba dive, and we took the ferry for a walking tour of St. George's. While we know we could have visited all the highlights on a map without a guide, we highly recommend booking a guide, because ours showed us so many things we would have missed without his tour. We began the tour at noon in the town square, with a reenactment of the dunking of a town gossip. Plan to take the 11 am ferry to arrive just in time for this reenactment. And, get in line for the 11 am ferry by 10:30 or you may find there's no room!
After our tour, we enjoyed a mid-afternoon meal on the second-story terrace of George and Dragon located right on the town square, a great outdoor meal where you can people-watch. While we were dining, NCL's Majesty pulled into town! We joined their guests in a .8 mile trek to Tobacco Bay Cove, where we enjoyed a couple hours beach time, before heading back .8 miles to catch the last ferry back to Dockyard at 6 pm. We took Dave back to St. George's the next day, so he could enjoy the highlights of St. George's as much as we had. For that trip, we enjoyed lunch and drinks at the Whitehorse Pub & Restaurant. Try their interesting Pink Sand Margarita. The only way I can describe it is "fluffy", kind of like a party in your mouth!
And, we saw the announcement about the Epic's new entertainment while at sea. We can't wait to experience Freestyle Entertainment on this grand new ship sometime down the road.
Disembarkation took a really long time. They called for a few people to come to customs and/or settle their bills with the purser over and over again. Finally early disembarkation started at 9:30 am, after they had stood in line for hours. We had picked up tags for the 10:15 disembarkation, because we weren't flying out until the next day, and Dave's flight was at 2:30 pm. We loved waiting in our stateroom and on our balcony leisurely while waiting to disembark. Finally our color tags were called at 10:45, and it was almost 11 am when we reached our luggage. We phoned King's Shuttle, and they met us outside within minutes.
We stayed one night post-cruise at the Holiday Inn Express Airport at 69 Boston Street. We had intended to tour Boston that day, but we ended up relaxing in our hotel until dinner time. We walked to a neighborhood restaurant recommended by the hotel clerk, 224, and wow, one more great meal - pumpkin cannelloni and organic pizza. Wonderful!
King's Shuttle picked us up one last time the next morning to take us to the airport. Our flight was non-eventful, until we arrived at our final destination but one piece of our luggage did not. When we filed the claim, they said they had already discovered it left behind in Boston and assured us it would arrive in Little Rock late that day, and they would deliver it the next morning about 7 am. And, they did, so great service American Airlines ... if only it had arrived in the first place!
I wasn't sure we'd like Freestyle dining, but we really did. And, we really loved Le Bistro, and we wished we'd visited all the others. We had heard that NCL had an older clientele, but we found all age ranges on the Spirit, with everyone looking to have a good time. And, as I said before, Bravo, NCL ... you know how to throw fabulous Party at Sea!
We had planned to purchase minutes from our laptop, but we heard the connection was really slow, so we opted to stay offline during this trip. The Freestyle Dailies said you could connect wireless in the Library/Internet Cafe, and on deck 7 and 8 in the Atrium. Our stateroom was directly below the Library/Internet Cafe, so we thought we might have wi-fi there, but there was no connection.
My best tips:
· Plan all your evening meals in the specialty restaurants. It's worth the small coverage charge for a slower pace meal, exceptional service, and fabulous food. Just my opinion!
· Don't miss Carrie Stone!
· Book the Enchanted dinner in the Art Gallery!
· And, if this is your first visit to St. George's, hire a tour guide.
· Bring white clothes and get on your feet and dance at the White Hot Party! (You can also buy a cute white t-shirt in the gift shop that has "White Hot Party" printed on the front and wings printed on the back.)
And, you can check out our photos at http://community.webshots.com/user/judyjbest.