A big thanks for captain and crew for keeping the norovirus down. The captain came on the loudspeakers several times telling us about other cruises that had to turn back due to the virus, our "body count" or number of passengers with the virus and to remind us to take precautions to keep ourselves healthy. It worked for us.
FREE STYLE DINING - For us this is one of the best aspects of our cruise. There is no pressure to be dressed and at your table by a certain time. Want to take a nap after a shore excursion? No problem. There was always some yummy part of each meal be it an appetizers, soup, salad, entree or dessert. Spirit dining staff were very pleasant and efficient. We enjoyed Windows restaurant the most. You can keep to yourself, share a table with "new" friends or start up a conversation with the couple at the table next to you. I missed some of the dishes - escargot & duck - that have usually been on cruise menus. Here, you have to book at a specialty restaurant and pay extra for that. We did. It was delicious.
We didn't use the pool, but like the free steam rooms and sauna. Spa & fitness packages available had a nice variety. Casino was very smoky & we had to leave. We are not big on going to all the entertainment, but those we did attend were fine.
CABIN - Our balcony was great. Plenty of room for our clothes & stuff. I counted 20 hangers. Loved the robes. Fresh towels when we wanted them. Had to ask for ice after the first few days. The little couch was awful. You could not sit on it without sinking down into the pull-out parts for the extra bed. The bathroom was spacious for a cruise bathroom. Once in the bathroom there is a separate door for the toilet & for the shower with the sink in between.
BEVERAGES - Tisdale, the NCL "house wine" for $22 a bottle. Really? Tisdale is a joke around our town. We can buy it at our local gas station for under $3 per bottle. "2 buck chuck", we tease our friends who love it. We were "busted" for bringing on several half bottles of wine packed in a suitcase. We were called down to the Stardust Lounge to claim our suitcase. We told them what we had and they let us take it. Other we spoke to had to leave it for after the cruise of pay extra to take it aboard.
Fellow passengers can make or brake a cruise also. We had super passengers aboard.
We chose this cruise for the ports of call and that it left out of New Orleans. Last year in February, we were scheduled to fly out of Chicago for vacation. There was a blizzard and we never got out of O'Hare. We figured Amtrak would get us to New Orleans. We stayed at Staybridge Suites and walked the 6 blocks to the cruise terminal.
Embarkation was smooth. Our check-in girl on the dock was a bit crabby. Too much Krewe du Vieux the night before.? We were able to go right to our cabin to drop off things before eating a late lunch and exploring the ship. Liked that we did not have to put on life jackets at the muster drill.
Disembarkation was the easiest we have ever experienced.