As a first time cruiser, I had average expectations going into this experience. However, upon arrival into the port of New Orleans for boarding, I was quickly impressed by the efficiency of the NCL embarkation process. We arrived at the port at 11:45 am on Sunday, February 7th and were on board exploring the ship by 12:45 pm. We enjoyed a lesuirely lunch at the buffet Raffles, and were in our stateroom by 2:00 pm.
Our inside stateroom was located on Deck 5 and was pleasantly larger than I expected. We had an excellent room steward named Richard who went above and beyond in servicing us. Our luggage was outside of our room by 3:00 pm, and we were unpacked and ready for the mandatory safety drill by 4:00 pm. At 5:30 pm, we dined at Windows as the Spirt pulled away from New Orleans.
The NCL Spirit has a lovely Asian inspired theme throughout the ship which was very charming. The formal night (or not) occurred on our first sea day, Monday evening, and it was enjoyable. We took some great pictures that we ended up purchasing from the photo gallery the next day.
We enjoyed dining at Windows and Raffles during our 7 day stay; we went to the Garden Room once, but were not impressed by the slow service received. The Blue Lagoon was good for a snack 24 hours a day and room service is very good. We didn't try any of the speciality restaurants on this trip, as the food in the main dining rooms was good enough.
The evening entertainment was average. My favorite acts were the acrobats and Second City. The magician was not very good, and we skipped some of the broadway sing-a-longs. The finale show, Elements, on Saturday night was truly spectacular and something not to be missed.
Overall, I had a very pleasant first time experience on this ship and would recommend it to others.
We visited the Mayan Ruins in Santo Thomas, Guatamala through an organized NCL excursion. I highly recommend booking an excursion at this port in order to gain a better sense of the culture. Due to the political instability, it is not recommended for tourists to explore this area alone. The international shopping that was available in the secure port area next to the ship offered incredible deals.