This is our second NCL sailing and third overall. After experiencing Royal our last cruise, we were eager to loosen up and freestyle again, and it didn't disappoint. The Spirit represents the sweet spot of cruising, not too big or small, 2000 passengers and about a 2:1 ratio of passengers to crew members. Translation: Anything we wanted to do was easy to do with no excessive wait and help was never far away if we needed anything.
We drove from part way from central Texas the night before our cruise and arrived late Sunday morning to Fulton Place Parking. Write that name down if you don't know about it already. Case and point, it was only $10 a day instead of $16 at the port and extremely secure. How secure? I managed to leave the car unlocked for the duration of the cruise and nothing happened! Whew. They also provide a complementary shuttle to and from the terminal that only takes a couple minutes. Embarkation was a snap through the Latitude line and we were on the ship in about 20 minutes total.
First impressions of the ship were what we expected, not blown away but by no means disappointed. It's an older ship, in fact the oldest in the fleet but it didn't matter. The decor could be considered a little tacky and worn out in places, but I thought it was unique that the ship retained so much of the original name and decor throughout, the Superstar Leo. I don't need on board surfing, carousels, mini golf, or a rock wall to make my cruise experience complete. The layout was a little tricky and not really mastered until we finished out last sea day. Certain locations were truly hiding and you would walk by half of the places if you weren't looking. Being asymmetrical in layout probably caused that a little. I know it wasn't just us. Every time someone got out of the elevator, there was confusion. Again it's only our third time cruising, but I've never been so poor about mastering the layout.
The dining on board again was without surprise. I don't expect 5 star meals unless I pay for it. Windows it probably our favorite breakfast stop. Every morning you would be sat immediately usually next to a window (how appropriate) and would have 3 drinks in front of you by the time you could have grabbed a plate at the buffet, Raffles. There were hits and misses with the Garden Room and Windows dining. Is it just me or has lobster gotten really tiny in recent years? And I don't mind trying next things, just stop messing with the classics just to be different. I really don't need big slabs of pumpkin in my lasagna. If you are fine with Denny's food, then you really won't be disappointed. I'm not knocking it, but I am not sailing on Regent or Cunard either. You get what you pay for.
Entertainment on the ship was the usual fare and in general enjoyable. Our favorite act was Duo Acrobatique. Imagine a Cirque du Soleil show with only a couple people and you get the idea. The comedian was Sam Greisbaum and he was very fun. He proves you don't need to be dirty to be funny. Even the adults only show was clean. That's rare. The only act we missed on purpose was Cripton and Renatta Magic. Imagine Jack Sparrow meets David Copperfield and you get the idea. I actually like magicians, but this seemed almost amateur the few time we saw him in other acts. The advantage is you get to figure out how some of the tricks are preformed because of it though. The ships singers and performers were entertaining but not memorable. Catch the show Elements, it was really good. And don't forget Second City improv. They will have you laughing hard. I most enjoy the shows that feature the ultimate improv actors, other passengers. Dancing with the Spirit Stars was really the highlight. Note to self, British people have no shame in doing crazy stuff!
I'm not really going to say much about on board activities because really to each his own. In general there wasn't a whole lot of participation and other times the wind made it difficult to even be outside for others. I never found myself bored, I just rested up for a busy night of fun.
One thing I wanted to make special mention of was the service, because that really is a huge part of having a successful trip. Our room stewards Joel and Jezreel were very friendly and greeted us no matter how many times we ran back to the room because we forgot something. "Wakey Wakey" or "Washy Washy" will be the greeting from the boisterous and friendly staff at Raffles. The Cruise Director Julie was always visible, much more than other directors we've experienced in the past. The captain Evans Hoyt was very cordial as were other officers. The on board entertainment was very approachable and fun to interact with. The Spirit is the ship with the highest customer satisfaction in the fleet which really doesn't surprise me. I just hope for others that do this cruise on the Star, when the Spirit is moved to the Mediterranean, the torch is passed not taken with it.
Disembarkation was silly easy since will just walked off the ship with our luggage, duty list in hand, and were meeting our shuttle in about 15 minutes total. All in all this was a wonderful cruise for a couple that likes bang for the buck. In talking with seasoned cruisers and first time cruisers alike we weren't alone. If only Norwegian would consider Galveston in the future...