We traveled on the NCL Spirit in July 2011, out of New Orleans. Our group consisted of my parents, myself and my two, teenaged sons. The Spirit was a perfect trip for our small multi-generational group. The many ports of call had plenty of activity for our teens. The ship provided enough quiet time for my parents.
We enjoyed the free-style type cruising, sometimes eating together as a family and sometimes in smaller groups, whether it was for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We did eat at the steakhouse, Cagney's, which was excellent and well worth the up charge. We also ate at the Asian restaurant, which had decent food but poor service, so I feel was not worth the additional charge. We wanted to eat at Teppanyaki but it was virtually impossible to get a reservation. We ate a lot at the buffet, as it was very convenient and almost always open. The food here was typical buffet - sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But there was something for everyone. Overall, the service in all the restaurants was very good.
We had two balcony cabins on deck nine, which was very convenient in mid-ship. The elevators could be slow at times, which was tougher on my parents. We usually walked (up to twelve, the main floor for buffet/pool/etc) or down to seven (restaurants/lobby area) without any issues. It probably helped burn off some of the calories! The cabins were adequate as we spent relatively little time in them. The cabin stewards were pleasant and keep the rooms in decent order. Our cabins were very quiet at night.
On ship, we spent most time at the pool and really did not have any issues finding a free lounge chair. My parents always found one in the shade - the kids and I stayed in the sun on the top deck. It was a fun vibe - the crew was great. As far as refreshment, I stuck with beer, which I didn't find outrageously priced (like the weak drinks). A 16 oz. Coors Light, with auto-gratuity, was $6.33. The staff pushed the "buckets" of beer (6 beer for the price of 5) but with no mini-frigs in our cabin, it didn't seem worth it to try to keep the beer cold enough.
We did no cruise-sponsored excursions, rather choosing to book excursion on-line before we left. My thoughts:
Casa Maya - the cruise sponsored "beach trip" is a complete rip off, which wanted to charge us $50+ per person for a trip to the beach and open bar (even for the kids who don't drink). Instead, it cost us under $10 to walk off the ship and catch a cab to the beach. There are beach bars with chairs/volleyball nets, etc. You have to rent your beach chair - you can bargain - don't sit at the first one you see. There are stores to shop in. We wandered down the far end of the beach and found a cute hotel/restaurant that had great pizza. This was probably the best beach we were at the whole trip.
Roatan - we booked (paid in advance) for a "Zip and Dip" excursion via South Shore Zip Line. Fortunately, I printed out our confirmation as when we got to the meet area, they had no record of our names. The Zip line was fun and the driver took us to a nice beach afterwards. Again, we had to rent beach chairs but this time I just got one as the kids spent the entire time in the water. At this beach, I encountered the famous Honduras sand fleas. I was the only one that got bit and it was just when I sat in the surf. After we got back to the dock, we walked through town and bought a few souvenirs. Walk outside the cruise ship area and into the town for much better prices.
Belize City - we booked a "Zip & Cave Tubing" trip with cave-tubing.com. This outfit was great and we had a lot of fun. The Zip line was awesome. The Cave tubing was OK - guess it's the thing to do in Belize. Not very exciting but pretty interesting. Again the excursion was approximately half the price of the cruises ship's excursion.
Cozumel - it rained in the morning so we just walked around and shopped, which is really the thing to do in Cozumel (or drink). I found it pricy compared to other parts of Mexico, but hey, they have you captive there! When the rain cleared up, we took a cab to one of the many beach clubs. The cab was relatively expensive and the beach was just OK - very rocky.
We enjoyed our days at sea - just lounging at the pool. I went to the gym each day - which was nicely equipped - and got less crowded as the cruise went on. I never had to wait for a machine. I did do one of the additional cost training classes for $30 and it was really not worth it. We enjoyed the comedy shows - the comedian was great. My parents went to almost all the shows and enjoyed them. We had fun at the Country & Western night on the 4th of July. Overall, we had a great experience on the Norwegian Spirit.