Our family of four ( myself, husband and 2 daughters ) along with my parents traveled on the Spirit departing 7/10. This was a last minute idea, we booked just two weeks prior to departure. Despite the short notice, I still had time to do a lot of research here on CC. We had a great time - relaxing for us, fun and exciting for the girls. One of the main reasons we chose this was the fact that it departs from Boston, which is only a short drive from home.
Embarkation/Disembarkation - After all of my research, I have to admit, I was a little nervous about this. However, it was quick and painless. We arrived at the port by 10:45 and within an hour, we were on vacation. Yes there were lines, but they moved along and everyone along the way was quite helpful. Coming home is never fun, but this too went smoothly. They were actually running ahead of schedule - we choose red - by 10:15 we were actually in our car and headed home.
Booking at the last minute has it's pros and cons. One of the cons being room selection. Not much left at the last minute for a party of four - only an inside cabin - and we were really hoping for a balcony. After reading lots of posts here on CC, I realized that the Spirit does not have balconies that accommodate 4 and only a few OV that do. Luckily with the parents joining us we were able to book 3 and 3. Again, after more research, I was able to book one OV that is substantially larger (8500) and the four of us did sleep in there. I'm still confused as to why they don't sell it as a quad, but it worked for us - 2 lowers, 1 bunk, and 1 pull out.
Because of a health issue, one member of our party requires a special diet, low sodium/low cholesterol. I was a little concerned about this, but not to worry. Upon embarkation we went to lunch at Windows and meet one of the senior waiters who was able to handle all of our requests.
I do believe that some things are subjective, one of them being food. We had all good experiences. We dined at Raffles, Windows, Blue Lagoon, Shogun, we also had sushi and ordered room service.
Raffles - for a breakfast buffet, we thought this was great. The omelets and eggs cooked to ordered were better than Windows in our opinion. Also the huge selection of food is great for the kids. We loved all of the cut fresh fruit. Some mornings there was also fresh squeezed juice available to purchase. For lunch we also enjoyed the buffet - something for everyone, always a good salad available and again, love that fresh fruit!
Windows - we experienced great service here at all meals. The staff is friendly, helpful and accommodating. The food is fine- not gourmet, but certainly a good meal.
Blue Lagoon - after all of my reading, we had to try the fried fish. Everyone in our party who tried it, enjoyed it. The burgers were good too!
Shogun - service and food were very good. We got a little carried away and probably ordered too much. The sushi is great - an opportunity to try a few different new rolls!
Room service - We ordered breakfast and coffee a few mornings - food was good, coffee just ok.
As you can see, by only complaint would be the coffee. I prefer a strong coffee, even the cafe wasn't strong enough in my opinion. But it was nice to have the option of ordering cappuccino and espresso in the dining room.
Drinks - as far as alcohol is concerned, I can't complain, I didn't think the prices were crazy, we really thought they were fair. Certainly not more expensive than a club or restaurant, maybe a little more than your local pub! For the kids, the teen passport is a deal. This is available on your day of embarkation - $35 for 20 coupons good for a soda or smoothie. This was a big hit for us.
Entertainment - again, I think this is a very subjective area. We did go to a few shows, some which were better than others. The Second City was great. To each his own, I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from going to any of the shows.
Children's activities - Our kids really enjoyed the kids club. Always something different going on. The kids pool area is great. Our kids loved it - the water slides and hot tub. Also, for us, it was a little less crowded than the main pool, so that was kind of nice.
Service - I can't say enough about the crew aboard the Spirit. Everyone was extremely friendly, helpful and really went above and beyond to make us feel special.
Bermuda - having been to Bermuda on other occasions, we decided not to take any excursions. We purchased bus/ferry passes and traveled to some of the beautiful beaches that Bermuda has to offer.
Day 1 - Snorkel Park - IMO this was just ok - the kids liked it and it is very calm, a good place for their first experience snorkeling. We rented beach chairs - they really weren't that comfy, they were cracked, but it all worked out ok. Also, there were no umbrellas - supposedly they were all broke. Again - kids had fun, in the end, that's all that matters.
Day 2 - Horseshoe bay - for those that have never been, I can't say enough....it is spectacular. It does get very crowded. I suggest going early, by noon it will be packed. The sand and ocean are so clean and beautiful. We had some pretty good waves going on, but over to the right in the little cove area, it was like a pool, perfect for little ones. Rented chairs and umbrellas - cash only.
Day 3 - Tobacco bay - again, very, very beautiful. We took the first ferry and had the place to ourselves for a short while. This beach area is small so it does get crowded. Rented chairs and umbrellas - cash only. We took a taxi from the ferry which cost $6 in each direction - it is walkable but hilly.
Hamilton - IMO, not what it used to be, but still fun to walk around and shop.
St. George - very picturesque
Summary - a great time was had by all. We would definitely cruise with NCL again. Freestyle is for us. We loved the flexibility, no pressure, no rushing. For the price, it's a nice vacation.