We embarked at Corfu ( no option on list to select Corfu )on the 26th August having stayed on the island for a week previously. The transfer from the hotel was quick and when we arrived at port we had priority check in as we had booked a suite. This was quick and our luggage was delivered promptly to our suite without any problems.
The suite was as expected, clean and spacious. We had stayed on the Celebration , the sister ship to the Spirit, so knew what to expect in terms of layout, size and room service. The Bathroom sink lacked a plug so we called reception and and someone from maintenance appeared within 5 minutes to sort it out. We discovered we had 2 stewards Jenni and Robert, who we didn't meet until later, but they were both fantastic and helpful throughout the whole cruise and treated us to some wonderful towel folding creations. Our ironing service was prompt and very useful as we needed items ironed for the Captain's evening. We had tea and coffee making facilities and complimentary breakfast service on a morning of our choice.The only thing we missed which we had on the Celebration was petit fours before dinner.
On the first morning at our muster station we met Carly ( one of the entertainment team ) who remembered us from the previous year when we were on the Celebration. Our cabin steward made sure our daughter had a child sized life jacket and there were staff on hand to assist everyone including those with disabilities.
The staff at the Kids Club had also been on the Celebration the year before and also remembered us, which we found amazing given the large numbers of passengers that the staff see every year , for what is a relatively short period of time.However, all staff go out of their way to say hello , be friendly and helpful. The same cannot always be said for some passengers who can be rude to the staff and treat them as insignificant. Thankfully most of the passengers on our cruise were well behaved and recognized that the staff work long hours and sometimes miss their families and friends but still manage to keep smiling.
The Entertainment did not let us down . The shows were fantastic, especially 'Africa' and Mediterranean Nights. The entertainment team are truly talented and sometimes have over 50 dance & song routines to learn and perform over a 2 week period . Some of them including the cruise director Richard also showed their acting ability in the lunchtime play performed on the day at sea. They also maintained their professionalism when someone sitting in the front row fell asleep and started snoring loudly in the middle of the performance , causing some amusement in the audience.
The weather throughout the whole cruise was fantastic , the ship ran on time and there were no problems with rough seas. Our favourite stop was Venice , followed by Dubrovnik. Slovenia was also very nice, but if we had known Split was going to be disappointing ( it was dirty and overcrowded ) we would probably have booked an excursion. Most days we made our own way around and in Croatia
( Dubrovnik) we got a bus into town as it was cheaper than a taxi. You have to change currency locally ( one Euro to 7 Kuna ) as the Euro is not widely accepted, but this can be done at the bus station which is on the right when you come out of the port. The girl in the local newsagent stall next to the port entrance sells bus tickets and children under 6 years of age go free on the buses which run frequently. In some ports you are also advised to carry your passports , but most places didn't seem too bothered about checking them. If you want to eat out in Dubrovnik typically a coke costs 1.50 euros and a pizza 6 euros. Venice is probably the most expensive, but prices get cheaper away from the water front ( Grand canal ) and away from St Marks Square. We were warned about sitting down in St Marks square - it costs and that's before you have a coffee.Excursions from the ship are expensive , so decide beforehand what you can afford to spend and save money by making your own way if you can. There is a information available on board if you need this ( maps and port pointers )and the advantage is you can decide your own time schedule.
Food and drink on the Spirit - drink is expensive and it is worth spending money on a drinks package. Water is free in the Lido but if you want bottled water you have to pay for it. A large 2 litre bottle is 1.75 Euros and a small bottle 1.15 Euros. A bottle of wine in the Compass Restaurant averages £20 ( e.g. popular brands at home - Jacobs Creek Chardonnay ). Food is plentiful and always available. You can eat healthily or otherwise if you want to as there is so much choice. We preferred the waiter service in the evening from the Compass Rose and have to say that our waiters Ramon, Michael ,Ronnie and Head waiter Herbert were fantastic. Our daughter has an egg and peanut allergy and Herbert always made sure that something was specially prepared for her by the chef. We had the option to move around the restaurant but decided to stick with our waiters given our daughter's allergies and they were entertainment in themselves. Michael sings, Ronnie and Ramon do magic tricks . Children are made especially welcome and there is no stuffiness in the restaurant ( not from the waiters anyway ! )The Baked Alaska parade was fantastic as usual , but we did miss that they didn't do a chocolate/ice sculpture evening similar to the ones on the Destiny and the Celebration ( perhaps due to economic times ? it is extravagant ! ).
All in all we had a fantastic time . We had a late departure and having booked a suite did not have to worry about a late check out cabin. We didn't even have to worry about having to put our suitcases out at 2 a.m the previous night , instead they were out at 5 p.m about an hour and a half before we left the ship. On the day we were leaving we counted 22 flights departing and 11 hotels for the stay element . It is a mammoth operation organising over 1200 passengers and watching the suitcases going off and on ship. If there are a few hiccups its not surprising .