My husband and I cruise on the Norwegian Spirit from 12/26/2010-1/2/2011 over our holiday break. We both work in education, so we took advantage of having the week off and headed towards some sun with 2 hours to spare before the blizzard hit Philadelphia. This was my husband's first cruise and my third, where this was my first experience with NCL. I had previously sailed with Royal Caribbean on 2 occasions with my family.
We have friends in New Orleans who picked us up from the airport and showed us around the city before boarding the ship. The weather on embarkation day was fairly cold, so it wasn't the best for site seeing around the city.
Embarkation was fairly easy taking us only around 45 minutes to get on the ship, where our room was ready for us once we got on board. We had an oceanview cabin on the 4th floor and were surprise in a good way upon entering our room, where we both felt it was bigger than we thought it would be. Our bags were in the room about 3 hours later, airplane bottles and all! We had purchased the honeymoon/anniversary package as a gift to ourselves for our 3rd anniversary. I highly recommend this package (price $219), as it includes 2 massages and champagne among other things. We continued to feel the perks of this package throughout the trip and we ate at the speciality restaurant Le Bistro the night of our anniversary without a cover, including the bottle of wine.
We used this vacation as a trip to be with each other, so we didn't interact very much with other guests...though people we did meet were very friendly. We have absolutely no complaints regarding the service on this cruise. The staff was overly friendly and constantly asking for feedback, and all interactions were perceived as genuine. Call it holiday spirit or simply a great staff.
I had read reviews regarding Costa Maya prior to this trip, so we didn't plan anything for this port. We ended up lounging by the pool at the port for a while before the clouds rolled in and called it a day.
We went to Mahogany Bay in Roatan and had a great beach day. Looking back I wish we had done more touring of the island, as it was truly beautiful, but this has become an excuse to go back there someday.
Belize was incredible. We traveled here on our anniversary determined to find some sun and a beach, and what we found was truly a treasure. We booked a tour at the port not through NCL and took a 30 minute boat ride past the anchored ships out to Goff's Caye, a tiny island right by the barrier reef. It was as if we were marooned (in a fabulous way!) for an afternoon, and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Truly special and highly recommended for beach bums who want to experience a tiny beach in the middle of crystal clear waters with little other land in sight. The price also including snorkeling, but we were so in love with the little island we chose to stay behind during the activity.
We chose an excursion through NCL for Cozumel for snorkeling through Fury Catamaran. Again, we experienced a very caring staff although the actual snorkeling fell short and was underwhelming to say the least. Cramming 30 people in a 15 yard radiance of water with their heads down leads to a lot of bumping and little sitings of fish. This tour included an hour beach break and unlimited margaritas, as well as many bouncy slides and trampolines in the water. We enjoyed the beach and sailboat more so than the snorkeling, but the staff was great.
If we had not traveled as a couple, we may have been more disappointed in the boat simply because there wasn't much to do on board if the weather didn't cooperate. We ate the majority of our meals in the Windows main dining room and only waited to be sat once the entire vacation (where the wait was a little under 10 minutes). This included breakfast and we ate most of our lunches at Blue Lagoon (love some panini's!) The buffet was okay, but we preferred the sit down places and with little waiting time, why not? The staff was great, but the overall amenities of the ship were just too few in my opinion. I don't know if this is a result of the ship's age or if it is NCL in comparison to Royal Caribbean. We tended to partake in the 8:30 entertainment shows after dinner (in the Galaxy of the Stars) and only saw on show (Second City) in the theater. All were very entertaining. Though in our 20's, we admit to retreating back to our cabins usually prior to 11 (which is kinda sad, but we still had fun!) We did make it to midnight on New Year's and celebrated outside by the pool at midnight at sea.
Overall, we had a lovely vacation to celebrate our 3 years thus far of marriage. My first impression of NCL was positive, but we will most likely explore another line for our next cruise.