This was my wife's and mine first time ever cruising and after checking a lot of cruise lines, we felt that NCL and Freestyle cruising would work best for us. This cruise was to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary and didn't want to have to plan things around meal times or have assigned talbes. We are so glad we picked NCL!
We drove down from Indiana Saturday spending the night just outside of Jackson, Mississippi. We arrived in New Orleans around 11:30 am and thanks to other reviews on Cruise Critic, we parked at Fulton Place Parking for only $70.00 for the week(almost $40 cheaper than NCL parking) They had a free shuttle that took us right to the terminal where we checked in our bags and headed in. We were in and out of the terminal within 15 minutes at the most and boarding the ship.
Because we are not big alcohol drinkers, we figured it would be wise to get the soda sticker. This cost $50.53 per person and turned out to be a very wise investment. Unlike some reviews I have read, we never had a problem getting a soda with our sticker and even got refills with no problem. We figured that we saved well over $100.00 each at the very least by getting this soda sticker. We would just lay our key cards on the table when sitting down to eat and was asked right away if we wanted a soda. Refills would be at our table before we finished the first soda.
Our rooms were not ready until 2:00pm which gave us loads of time to have a great lunch in Raffles and still have time to walk around the ship a bit taking pictures. Once we got to our rooms, we were very pleased with our balcony room. Since the ship is the smallest and oldest one in the NCL fleet, we felt the room was just fine. The bathroom was a bit small for us but then again, we are not skinny people either. Yes the balcony is not every big. However, it is big enough for two chairs and a small table. What more do you really need. We really enjoyed sitting out and reading or just watching the waves as we sailed.
No, the Spirit doesn't have a rock wall or bowling ally. But what the lack in those areas, they make up in making you feel truly welcomed. We ate breakfast in Raffles. Every morning we were greeted by "smiley smiley" or "naughty naughty". They never failed to put a big smile on our faces. Our stewards, Felix and Babi were fantastic. They always greeted us by name from day one. My wife just loved the towel animals they left in our cabin.
The food was great and if you like omelets, you have to go to Raffles! We did not eat in any of the specialty places so I can't speak for those. We ate our dinners in either Windows or Gardens. We truly enjoyed all our meals there and the service was outstanding. We only had to wait to be seated two times the whole week and those were both less than 10 minutes waits.
We booked two excursions through NCL. One in Costa Maya to Chacchoben Ruins. The bus ride was an hour one way. However, our guild was very good and really knew the Mayan history. We learned a lot from her and she made the ride go by fast. It was well worth what we paid for it!
The other excursion was in Roatan. This was also the day of our anniversary so we wanted to do something very special. We picked the dolphin encounter and Tabyana Beach. It was wonderful and something we will never forget! The dolphin trainers really put us at ease and gave us more than we ever thought we would get there. The beach was beautiful and so peaceful.
When it came time for disembarkment, we opted to walk off with our luggage. At first when we saw the line of people ahead of us, we thought it was going to be a long wait. Boy were we wrong. When the line started moving, it did not stop until we were out of customs 20 minutes later. We called Fulton Place Parking and the shuttle came to take us back to our car. By 9:30am, we were on the road heading home.
I don't know about other cruise lines but I know we loved NCL and are already talking about our next cruise with them!