Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by travelcommons: Great itinerary, little 'Wow' factor, pleasant overall
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Great itinerary, little 'Wow' factor, pleasant overall
Sailed on the 8/21 sailing as Hurricane Irene started her approach to the U.S.; as we were on the Western Caribbean route, we were plenty far away from any effects.
Stayed Saturday night at Wyndham Whitney via Priceline ($60 with all fees/taxes), great location. Only blocks away from Mother's Restaurant, locally known for great gumbo and their bread pudding was pretty good too.
NCL Spirit docks at the Erato Street Cruise Terminal, which is right next to Julia Street Cruise Terminal. If you are walking (like we did), do NOT go through the convention center, it will just be a long ass walk. Instead, walk along Julia Street towards the river and just past the Riverfront Street car stop, look towards your right and you'll see a narrow road that runs the length of the river. Take this road, walk 5 minutes and you'll be at the check-in and taxi drop off. We only found about this after the fact, when we walked the entire length of the convention center, couldn't find the More terminal, and then hailed a taxi. For $14 (rip off) and a 3 minute ride, he dropped us off where we needed to be, which sucks because we were so close to it already.
Random tips in no particular order:
Food: it was okay, nothing awesome good and nothing terribly bad.
Breakfast buffet line has great muesli, a yogurt station (you pick the ingredients and they'll make it for you), multiple omelet stations (you can ask for fresh cooked eggs and even egg whites), hot chocolate, and fresh waffles. The dining room has the exact same food except for 2-3 items (like Eggs Benedict).
Lunch buffet: look for an Indian station, stir fry section and a 'make-your-own' soup broth station. Skip the burgers and dogs and opt for either the deck BBQ (on the sea days) or go to the Bier Garden where they'll warm up the meats on the grill for you if you ask. Ice cream (soft and hard) is plentiful.
Dinner buffet: decent selection, but you are better off going to any of the other restaurants.
The late night buffet (10pm-12am) is pretty minuscule, so I suggest the Blue Lagoon, which is open 24 hours---great chicken tenders and the only place we found chocolate chip cookies (the buffet had other kinds but never chocolate chip). You can also check out the casino, they have a table spread of fruit and sandwiches and other finger food.
Bring your own soap and shampoo unless you don't mind the bulk stuff they put into the shower dispensers. There is no conditioner and the hair dryer works well enough. We were in a small inside room, but found it okay; go to a Dollar store and buy the canvas/plastic multiple pocket shoe holder that hangs against a door for some extra places to put your stuff.
They sell instant win tickets for $20, you get 4 strips each containing 5 tickets. As the cruise goes along, the offers to buy get better and better so if you want maximize the value, wait until they throw in a free t-shirt and/or 7-8 strips for the price of $20.
The showroom can get crowded on exit--you can also exit at the back on the upper balcony and it will take you outside and down to the promenade deck.
We only did one specialty restaurant, and that was the $15 Taste of India. Service was a little rushed, but you get a chance to try out TWENTY different tastes of India and nothing was ever too spicy.
For the musical entertainment, think of songs you want them to play and ask for it, otherwise they'll play the typical songs Billy Joel/Neil Diamond and stuff everyone has already heard.
Don't forget that the spa has a steam room, sauna and two single lane current pools that don't get used too often.
The acrobats were great. Elements show is not to be missed. Magician was a little cheesy (but who isn't), but his tricks were solid, even though he only got a tepid audience response. Production shows were fine. Comedian was funny. Other cruise activities like gameshows and contests were the same as on other cruise ships.
Overall a pleasant cruise. Service in the dining rooms was uneven, they serve three courses yet one night it took us almost 2 hours to complete our meal because it was just a very long wait in between the food. We never saw our cabin steward. Ship is on the smaller side, but had plenty of space and public rooms to meander. Pool area gets very crowded to get a lounge chair early. People smoking outside was a bit of a problem, since it seemed like they could smoke anywhere as long as it was outside (no enforcement if it is otherwise). They'll play movies inside the casino nightclub area, otherwise you can just watch them in your stateroom. Movies on this cruise included Thor, Red Riding Hood, Hanna, Your Highness and Love Happens. For us, the NCL Freestyle cruising experience is not enough to bring us back; if we even cruise NCL again, it will be on their newest ship Epic (with Blueman Group). NCL did not exceed our expectations and our favorite lines remain Celebrity and Holland America. We'd clump NCL with Princess and Carnival and RCCL last. Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Spirit 5579
Nice location, equidistant to each elevator. A little small and a little worn, but since we didn't spend much time in the cabin aside from sleeping it served us just fine.
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