We chose the Spirit for the port destinations and the ease of boarding and disembarking in New Orleans. This was our first time on the Spirit and heard of a smaller ship with an Asian theme. We were not disappointed in any way. The ship, although over 12 years old, is in very good condition, well maintained, and has one of the most accommodating and friendliest staff and crew I have ever had the privilege of sailing with. Everyone had a smile and was eager to please. The price was very reasonable for a balcony stateroom. We originally booked room #11000 which was under the Galaxy of the Stars and found to be very noisy at night after 10 pm. The staff went out of their way to find another balcony room even though the ship was full. Embarkation went very smooth as we parked in the terminal lot and the porters took the suitcases from our car, we parked and were on the ship by 12:10. The total time was about 25 minutes, only downside was when we boarded at 12:10, our stateroom was not ready until 2 pm, so we found a spot in the bar to watch the football game. Disembarkation was even easier and we were off the vessel thru Customs and in our car on our way in 20 minutes from our scheduled time.
Staterooms: As mentioned, room #11000 is a great room if you are a night owl. Easily located forward part of the ship on starboard side, but the band playing at night one deck above can be heard like you are there. The crew moved us to room #10656, one deck down, mid to aft on port side and was very quiet and convenient to the elevators, right to the dining rooms. The room is spacious enough for a one week cruise, but anything more could be cramped as the room is smaller than other ships. The room was clean and well maintained, although the room stewards could have been a bit more attentive, one day no towels and another day dirty glasses. The balcony is a bit small but roomy enough for two people provided you do not need a lounge chair. The only things missing on my report about the room was no clock/alarm clock, no bar soap (only dispensers for soap & shampoo) and no body lotion provided for those days after being in the sun. There is a safe in your room and ample closet space but no refrigerator. Also included in the balcony rooms was a coffee maker and coffee/tea was provided daily for your use.
Food: Very good. The buffets at times were better than the dining room food in varieties and amount, and never much of a line, even at the omelet stations. The dining rooms were always clean and usually not much of a line, except at certain times. The 24 hour restaurants were very good for the options and you surely will never go hungry. The free style options are great for when you are in port and I have never been on a ship with a Japanese Steak house serving 12 people family style with your own chef. You can find gourmet food if needed, but if that is not necessary, it is great experience without the need for formal nights and set seating styles.
Cruise Critic: This has always been a wonderful way to meet some of your fellow cruisers before you sail. It gives you the opportunity to meet and greet your friends before the cruise. I have been with many CC groups before, but this one was the BEST. Many of us met the day before we sailed and got to visit New Orleans in true style thru our gracious hosts of Ray and Sue. We had our CC day set up on the first day we sailed and not only met the crew and hotel staff, but was joined by the Captain who joined our group and wore a set of Mardi Gras beads with the rest of us.