Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by Ironsiren: NCL Spirit was Tops!! May 2011
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NCL Spirit was Tops!! May 2011
Our first cruise was aboard the Norwegian Spirit. We had a positive experience, which I will break down by service.
THE BOOKING was really easy. Our room was right above the engines at the front of the boat, but the only time we were made aware of that was when we were docking or leaving the port. Other than that - quiet! Also we booked an inside room with no portholes. Others may like the window view and they like not feeling so closed in, but we loved the blackout conditions. Keep this in mind when booking. We didn't try to change our room, which is good, because once the ship is packed and boarded up, they don't really do a lot of upgrades or changes to your room. So...book well!
CHECK IN/EMBARK took a LONG time, but that's what happens when you have to load 2200+ people onto the boat! It doesn't matter when you board, but it may help if you're the earliest to get on. You will have your pick of restaraunts (some of which are booked FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK More within an hour of the first wave of people on the ship!) and you'll be ready to go when people are still un packing and getting settled!
Be prepared for a mandatory emergency drill at the very beginning before the ship leaves. It's only like ½ hour.
INFO/GETTING SETTLED/GETTING AROUND
They're pretty good about leaving important information in places where you'll be able to find it, but they won't go out of your way to hold your hand and anticipate your confusion. They put the daily newsletter/activity briefing on your bed so you have some idea, and you can always call guest services. If you're lost, just follow the crowd at chow time. One of the things we would have found helpful is the deal with "TENDER". Nobody told us what the crap that was. It is a process they use to control crowds if they can't dock at a particular port. They give people a number of a group that goes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. and boats from the port city come OUT TO THE CRUISE ship and load people and take them to the city. And if you want off the boat, you are the early bird that goes to get your "TENDER #" either the night before or first thing in the morning (like 5am). Another thing to know is that cash is not accepted and neither are credit cards while you're on the boat. Everything is charged to your room key, which may be a problem if you wanted to split the bill for whatever reason.
Another thing to note is that the ship is run on time all the time, but there are few clocks to be found. There's a clock at the pool, but that's all I saw. I was constantly asking the crew what time it was or people with watches. Also, channel 2 will show you ship location, bearings, and ship time in case you need to know!
There's activities to do almost every hour to keep you from going insane.
We saw Perfect Couple- that was funny and very entertaining, we saw Newlywed not so Newlywed- that was equally entertaining. We went to Karaoke and had a blast. I did the hip hop dance thing for the morning excersize on Monday, loved it! They have poolside entertainment in the form of a cheesy cover band (FLEX?) and you can recognize the songs but they're not that good. LOL They also have pool games, which we never participated in, but it was fun to watch. We also went to Elements which was like a cirque de soleil thing, but after that, the whole crew of the ship comes out so you can douse them with a standing ovation and ask questions. It was kind of interesting I guess. Second City is the comedy troupe that NCL employs. I didn't think they were that funny, and the theater was packed, but it didn't seem other people thought they were that funny either. But it's something to do.
We booked our city excursions apart from the cruise ship. They get kickbacks from their own relationships with the vendors, and there are some benefits- like if something goes wrong, it's covered by the ship. But their prices are horrendous. We compared their prices with the tours we booked separately and the difference was about 40%!! So once again....book well, and in advance, and off the internet. Print everything about your excursions, confirmations etc, because you will have a tough time doing this through the internet provided on the ship which brings me to my next point.
This is one of a scant complaints I have about my cruise. Internet was 75 cents a minute and it and it took about 5minutes to get to the website. They have internet packages you can buy, - I think it was like $55 for 55 minutes. We did the individual 75 cents a minute thing and paid $17 for 24 minutes. My husband has an HTC android with a hotspot, but he couldn't get out of the ship's ISP gateway. We tried to find an internet cafe in some of the port cities. They're there and free so use them, but be advised of the security risks, and the speed barriers at internet cafes in other countries. So seriously- PRINT OFF YOUR EXCURSION CONFIRMATIONS AND TAKE CARE OF ANY BUSINESS REQUIRING THE USE OF THE INTERNET AHEAD OF TIME.
Since you're on the ship, you are therefore "Roaming" and your cell phone accepts/sends texts and pictures and phone calls at a much higher rate. Mine was 50 cents to send & receive. I can't wait to see what the phone charges were. Against your inclinations, if you can help it refrain from sending pics and text and calling people until you get back to the states.
NCL has a great variety of onboard dining and restaraunts, some are specialty for which you will pay a little extra to eat there, but it's certainly worth it. We spent most of our dinners and breakfasts at Windows, the Garden Room, and the Raffles buffet which are all included in the cruise price. Those three will serve some variation of what is in the buffet that day. The Teppanyaki restaurant is an extra $25 per person but it was booked from the first night we stepped foot on the boat. Here's where being early on the boat and knowing what you want pays. We tried Cagneys' steak house and it was awesome- highly recommend. Had the espresso brownie for dessert which was delish.
They had a poolside sail-away pool party the last day, where they served like a beach bbq cuisine right around lunch time and that was fantastic! Don't miss it.
We never had any problems with the dining rooms or the staff. They served friendly and fast.
So sad, the time comes for all of us. Anyways- not much to say here- it was really easy to leave, much easier than boarding! They have these color coded tags (kind of like the TENDER thing and for the same reason), but we did not use them. We had 2 bags we just carried off the boat. Lots of people are doing the same thing you are so you'll have to be patient. If you're carrying too many or too big, the elevator is going to slow you down, because of the number of people trying to use them. But if you can carry it up & down the stairs ok, you have a better chance of getting off faster. LOL Less
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