We recently returned from the 9 day southern itinerary on the Norwegian Spirit. We were a group of four. Two of us are in our early forties and two of us were seniors. My husband and I are very active and were hoping for some good beach time and scuba diving. His parents were hoping for some quiet down time and some good shopping. We chose this cruise because we thought it would have something for everyone. We weren't disappointed. All of us had a great time.
First, the highlights: 1) The ship was beautiful -- especially the central atrium area. 2) Although the ship was full and had lots of children on board it never felt crowded. It was easy to find something to do, or, alternatively, a quiet corner to hide out and read. 3) The staff were friendly and helpful. 4) The best part of this cruise was the itinerary. This is one of the few ships that departs from North America and sails to the Southern Caribbean. This avoids having to fly to San Juan. In addition, there were quite a few stops - Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua and Tortola. Each was different. St. Lucia was beautiful, and Antigua had great beaches. Our favorite was Tortola because of the scuba dive we did there. The dive to the Wreck of the Rhone was a great dive. Lots of coral, fish and a well preserved wreck.
The pleasant surprises: We had read reviews saying that the beds were hard, the line ups for dinner were long, the chairs by the pool were always taken and the food was bad. None of these things were our experience. 1) On the food front, we thought that the food in Windows and the Garden was very good. We enjoyed every meal. We ate at the Bistro one night and thought that was good, too. The exceptions would be Raffles Buffet, where we found the food to be extremely mediocre, and the coffee on the ship (which varied from OK to awful). 2) We found that if we went to the restaurant before about 6:30 there was no line. Presumably there would also be no line later in the evening but we didn't try this. 3) We were always able to get lounge chairs by the pool. We found that the trick was to look for lounge chairs in the shade, and then to move them into the sun. There were almost always empty chairs hidden in shady corners. 4) As to the beds - they were firm, but not really a problem. 5) We found our room to be more comfortable than expected. I was a bit worried that our outside cabin would be too small and we would regret not having a balcony. However, the outside room suited our needs -- and we spent the money saved on diving and other excursions.
The things we didn't like: 1) Raffles buffet (as mentioned above). 2) The evening entertainment could have been better. Although the magician and one of the two comedians were very good, the Broadway stage shows were uneven in quality. 3) The elevators required patience -- often quite slow. 4) Getting off and on the boat in certain ports was slow due to lines.
Overall we thought this was a great cruise and would recommend it to others.