I just returned from my cruise to Bermuda on the NCL Spirit today. This is my first on the Spirit, but have also sailed to Bermuda on the NCL Majesty (2x) and NCL Dream (1x.)(Once on Holland America and Disney, but neither went to Bermuda.) I liked this ship much more than the other two.
Weather on this trip could not have been better. Even the Captain remarked that this was the best weather on this ship all season. (Brought my lucky penny, wished for great weather...guess it worked!)We left Boston in the sunshine and I have yet to see a cloud in the sky since last Friday :) Nothing but sunshine for the past 8 days!
Embarkation: Very quick, very easy, lots of people to help (From NCL and Boston Authority.) Traveling solo, managed 3 bags from the garage to the terminal with minimal trouble. Once there, the porters whisked away my luggage, literally zoomed through the latitudes line, and got right through security. In the past, NCL did not have such an organized system in place when embarking the ship. That was a very pleasant surprise.
The Ship: The ship has that "wow factor" when you first walk on board. The atrium is that pretty! The colors on this ship are oriental(golden,reds, black wrought iron, and deep greens with lots of wood and recessed lighting.) It had a soothing feel to it. Staircases, restaurants, moulding, and railings were mostly wood which gave the ship a very nice feeling and look. It's hard not to notice the tarnished and greasy fingerprints you see on other ships who have brass and metal railings. It also looks much richer to see dark wood on paneling and ceiling moulding. Windows, in particular has lots of pretty wood paneling and moulding throughout. Very classy.
Restaurants: The Windows and Garden Restaurant are both pretty. Garden has darker lighting, Windows has a classier feel. I enjoyed both just as much. Service in both were superb. Menus were identical and on any given day I would have been just as happy to go to either for any meal. Like anyone, there are certain meals I enjoyed over others, but I cannot say I didn't like any meal. Unforgettable are the Beef Wellington, Roasted Tomato Bisque Soup, Scallop/Mixed Greens/Miso Dressing Salad, Eggs Benedict, Mocha Cheesecake/Banana Sauce, and the fresh baked cookies at Raffles. Raffles Buffet: Was far better than the previous buffets I have gone to on NCL. Great selection from what I saw the few times I ate there. (I prefer being served at a table when I cruise.) I saw one incidence of a woman...who knew not to do this but did so anyway...walk through the buffet with nothing more than her bathing suit on. No shoes, either. I mentioned this to the restaurant manager later that evening at the Gardens Restaurant. He thanked me for telling him this and told me that indeed, they do not allow people to be in there without being covered and wearing shoes. It would have been nice to see someone ask her to please come back when she is covered and has shoes on. I didn't actually see her get in line, maybe because I was so disgusted at the sight of seeing her in there like that. I would have thought though, that someone would have seen her walk in there like that, as they do have people standing at the entrances with a spray bottle of hand washing liquid. Blue Lagoon: I ate at only once but enjoyed their cheeseburger with fries. Looked packed just about every single time I walked by there. Lots seemed to like the wings as well. Specialty Restaurants: I ate only at one, Shogun, for the "Taste of India" special they had one night. That meal is truly unforgettable. I ate far more than 15$ worth of food. (Cover charge.) They brought out at least 20 different kinds of dishes that were simply fantastic. They take great pride in their culture and want you to truly experience Indian food at it's finest. Everyone remarked how much they thoroughly enjoyed the never ending meal. The Cafe: Coffee at it's finest, and I do prefer good coffee. It was wonderful to sit in the comfy couches listening to the music above from Champagne Charlie's after the show every night, sipping a frothy cappuccino. Bar Drinks: Although I didn't drink all that much, I found the drinks to be better at Champagne Charlie's. They seem to be far more organized there in getting you a better quality drink. The martinis are their specialty. At 9$ each, that's important to me.
Activities: I traveled solo, so of course I wasn't interested in doing many of the activities they had on board. That is NOT to say I wouldn't have done them if I were not traveling solo. The list is endless fun. Minus the bingo or gambling, (not my thing) there are tons of things to do. I was more than happy doing nothing more than listening to the great music from Alvin and Emily at Champagne Charlie's or reading my book on the lounge chair on promenade deck. I get very little time to myself, as I work 55 hour weeks taking care of preemie triplets as a Nanny, so that was a priority for me on this trip. The game shows, trivia contests, dance/music venues were full of variety and matched to all ages of all kinds. I just needed some peace and quiet this time around on this cruise.
Service: Service was perfect in every restaurant. There was very little waiting time to get into both restaurants. On some evenings, there was no wait at all. Having sailed on NCL before, I have noticed that it was far far far better on the Spirit. It didn't take forever, either to go through the meal. Within and hour, we were on our way to the show with plenty of time in between. I think it may have been because they have more people working in the dining rooms than I have seen in the past. They were always pleasant and attentive. Simply excellent.
Stateroom: I prefer an inside room, as I have insomnia and like the darkness of the inside room. Mine was on the 10th floor. Yes, they do a good job cleaning the rooms, except for vacuuming in certain areas. I noticed that under the beds, chairs, and in corners, it had not been vacuumed for a while. That could use some improvement, as I saw bottle caps and a child's action figure clearly in sight, which could have easily been detected, as well as dust, sand and paper scraps where they do not vacuum. Shelves, drawers and places where there are handles could have used some scrubbing as well. The beds were hard, too hard for me, even with a foam pad I brought from home. Lighting at the head of the bed is directly where you put your pillow, so reading became a bit difficult if you couldn't wedge your pillows into a corner. Why place them there? Made no sense to me. Waste basket in bathroom is a plastic bucket placed in a well (hole)under the sink. It was disgusting, I'm afraid. They don't use plastic bags, just simply remove the bucket, toss the waste, and then replace back into the well. The bucket was brown. Why brown? I don't want to know. That alone made me keep the bath mat on the floor at all times. They came in to replenish, I suspect, but how much time they spend on disinfecting (not simply wiping down), I do not know. The shower looked somewhat clean, but you could tell by the film, it wasn't disinfected at all times. Nothing horrible, but not what I had expected. Shelves and such were plenty, and everything worked properly, except for the closet door which remained stuck on one side for the entire week. I brought along a hairdryer, but couldn't use it, as there isn't an outlet to plug it into. The only available outlet in the room (near the desk) had a label saying "no hairdryer please." The one installed in the bathroom was quite a task to use, as it has a hose (hard to disentangle) and gets very hot. My hair feels quite dry now, having had to use that one all week. I managed, not the end of the world, but no outlet anywhere in the room? What's up with that? One other problem...I chose my stateroom in particular, because it didn't have another stateroom on one side of me. Bad choice, because it was right near a service room, for, I gather, the room stewards. Lots of noise early in the morning. Not exactly sure what they used that room for, but I heard banging, and what sounded like a large dryer running and supplies being collected. Could I have asked why there isn't another room near me or could I expect my choice of room to be noisy? Probably. I booked through an Internet agency. It's likely they didn't know. I just wish NCL would have at least had some info on their site as to certain rooms on the ship that are near loud areas...especially at 6 AM!
Entertainment: This is the area where the Spirit really truly shines! I enjoyed every show, and found the Elements show on the last night to be just spectacular. I looked forward to each show after a nice dinner. Traveling solo, it's the two things I enjoy most about cruising. The comedy acts, acrobats, magic acts, and the dancing were some of the best I've seen. I found the costumes in large, to be stunning. Such a great variety, too. I do wish, though, that the crew show would have had more crew members involved the show. They had only a few solo singers and 2 quick dance routines. I was surprised how little there was to the show. With a crew of 975, you would think there would be.
Bermuda: This being my 5th time there (4th time cruising there), I obviously love Bermuda. I mainly love being on or near the water, and I hate to fly, so this cruise works well for me. Having the opportunity to dock for the first time on the other side of the island was a great experience for me. I really liked the Dockyard and wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I had in the past being docked at St. George. They have a great little mall there and the ferries were right at hand to take you to St.George and Hamilton very quickly. I took both the bus and the ferries and always liked being in Bermuda for their great transportation around the island. That alone makes your trip so much more worthwhile. I went to my favorite beach, Horseshoe Bay, as I always do when I come here. More waves...big waves...this time. Exciting, yes, but had to be careful of that undertow. Such a pretty beach. Always lovely to come to...every time. I took the bus to The Swizzle Inn, first time there and thought for a change I'll try it. I won't again. It wasn't worth the effort or the price. The chicken barbecue nachos were cold... and I do mean cold... and I had a much better rum swizzle drink right on the ship. The service at the Swizzle was horrible. Unfriendly and inattentive. I took the bus over to St. George and enjoyed a quick walk around. Sad to see many of the places closed here, and I knew that before I came, but I always enjoyed this part of the island in my past experiences here. Not as much this time. I was hot, too, and probably tired from not sleeping well in my noisy cabin the night before. I try to make the best of everything so I took some pictures, poked around the few shops that were open and enjoyed the ferry ride back to the dockyard. I took the bus to Hamilton but being a Sunday, many of the shops were closed. It didn't matter. Window shopping worked just fine for me. I got a delicious frozen caramel coffee drink at a juice bar/type place and walked around taking pictures and was actually glad to be in the capital city without the crowds I have seen in the past. I had to linger a little longer while I waited another hour for the next ferry so I took another walk, thinking, I really should work off some of this cruise ship food :)
The last days at sea were smooth as can be. Last night I walked the promenade looking at a beautiful pink sunset. This is why I cruise. I enjoy being at sea and walking the promenade deck at sunset. I like it just as much as those pretty pink sand beaches in Bermuda. We disembarked without a hitch. They make it very easy to find your luggage and get off the ship and where you need to go in a hurry. They even smile when you leave the ship.
Summary: Would I go back to Bermuda? Most likely yes, but perhaps I will opt for a different kind of cruise this time. The kind where I actually have to get on a plane this time. I would sail with NCL again, maybe not on the Spirit, but that's not definitely. I'm thinking I need to venture out more, and it would all depend on what I can afford. Being single..it's twice the price for me. I'm glad to see that NCL has gotten their "Freestyle Cruising" in gear. Seems they worked on solving the long lines at dinner and faster service in the dining rooms. Food was better as well, especially in the buffet. The ship needs some work. Not an overhaul, just certain areas like new chairs in Raffles and bathrooms updated. It makes sense it shows wear and tear, since it takes in nearly 2000 people every single week. I just don't want to sit at a chair in Raffles and find my hand sticks to the back of it when I pull the chair out. (Layers of grease that doesn't wash off when constantly being used.)She is a pretty ship, and I suspect still has a lot of use left. With careful detail to certain areas, she would, and should continue to give people a memorable vacation. I enjoyed mine. I know you will too. PS...I gave this ship a TWO on Rates, simply because as a single person I have to pay twice the price, so it's not a great value for me.