How to Avoid the Final Four in Style!: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by silkbj

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How to Avoid the Final Four in Style!

Sail Date: April 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: New Orleans
First of all, let me explain the timing of this cruise. It all revolved around when my husband was to bowl in the USBC National Bowling Tournament in Baton Rouge rather than when the weather in the ports we would be visiting would be temperate for the heat weenie I am! Our cruise was from April 1-8, 2012.

We arrived in NOLA on Friday evening after leaving Seattle at 7:30am with a change of planes in DFW. Boy that was a long travel day! Due to the Final Four weekend, I was not able to book a room on the main side of the river so we ended up on the West Bank. Getting to the West Bank was very confusing due to the many flavors of the 90 hwy the freeway signs pointed to. We finally got there though and had an adequate hotel room at the Clarion (now Quality) Inn in Gretna. We had a fantastic dinner that night at O'Briens Grille nearby.

Saturday, we took a couple of walking tours of the FQ and Garden District and had brunch at Commander's Palace in the Garden District. The More only real affect we felt of the Final Four weekend in NOLA was that it was impossible to ride any of the streetcars. They were all packed like sardine cans!!!

Sunday, we returned the car to the airport and took the NCL shuttle bus to the pier. I figured if there were any road closures, etc due to the Final Four, the NCL shuttle would still be able to get us to the ship. They dropped us off at the door and we got into the security line which is the only line that we encountered during the whole check-in process. Our cabin was a suite so we were walked over to that check-in area and then to the lounge to await our boarding of the ship. Once on board, we were escorted to our suite, where we dropped off our carry-on stuff and then headed to Cagney's for lunch. After lunch we just wandered around and explored the ship and then got settled into our cabin. Our cabin was absolutely wonderful! We had an aft facing penthouse suite and it was huge! Those rooms have been described elsewhere on CC so I will spare you the details, but needless to say, my husband really enjoyed his own private jetted tub throughout the cruise!!! I, on the other hand, enjoyed the huge shower! We ate dinner in the Windows MDR that night. I thought that both sides of the menu provided a good selection to choose from. (The left side of the menu changed daily and the right side remained the same throughout the week)

Monday, was our first sea day and our CC M&G which was held in the Pub. We had about 40 or so show up for the M&G as well as a number of the ship's officers. Overall, it was a successful M&G and everyone seemed to have a good time. NCL provided pastries, juice and coffee. We checked out the casino after the M&G but didn't win, drats! In the afternoon, my husband enjoyed an international Beer tasting in the Pub. That night we ate in the Buffet which was fine.

Tuesday, was our first port of call, Costa Maya. We didn't have any specific plans per say. Just took a bus into the town and hung out at one of the beach resorts for lunch. Picked up a couple of souvenirs along the way and then headed back to the ship. The weather was extremely hot and humid so it was nice to get back to the AC. We had dinner that night in Le Bistro. It was wonderful!

Wednesday found us in Belize. We had canceled the shore excursion we had booked as I had gotten too much sun the day before and it was even hotter here! We did get off the ship (tender port) and wandered around the pier shops for a while. We had lunch at the Wet Lizard which was nice and cool with the breeze blowing through the second story, open sided veranda. The food and beer were very tasty and well worth the visit. After lunch, we visited the chocolate shop next door and bought a couple of truffles for dessert but didn't buy any other chocolates as we figured they would be totally melted by the time we got back to the ship!!! We headed back to the ship then as I was wimping out again from the heat and humidity! (We're from the Seattle area so we aren't used to the heat and humidity!) We decided to do something different for dinner this night and had in-room dining from the Italian restaurant. Our Butler, Akhmed got everything set up for us and served us in our suite. It was so nice and relaxing!

Thursday we arrived in Roatan (tender port) where we took an NCL shore ex to the Maya Key Private Island Retreat. It was not quite as hot in Roatan as it had been in Belize and being able to get into the water helped a lot. They served us a very tasty buffet lunch of salad, BBQ chicken, fried fish and fried plantains. After lunch, we wandered around the island and looked at the rehabilitating animals and the museum. We also had a nice time watching the sea lions carrying on with each other like a bunch of 2 year olds! When we had our fill, we were tendered back to the pier where we looked at the shops and picked up some wonderful ice cream to cool off with. After returning to the ship, we cooled off in our cabin and then had dinner in the Garden MDR. I found that I preferred the Windows MDR over the Garden room. I found the Garden room to be so dark that I had a hard time reading the menu.

Friday was a day in Cozumel. Once again it was hotter than blue blazes! We took a horse drawn carriage ride around the port city and then had lunch at Poncho's Backyard. Excellent food and very strong margaritas! We did a bit of souvenir shopping in the Los Cinco Soles shop in front of Poncho's before heading back to the ship. We had dinner again in Windows that night and then enjoyed the Chocolate Buffet for dessert!

Saturday was our second sea day. I hung out in the casino all morning and then we went to Cagney's for lunch. We spent the rest of the day in our cabin packing and then relaxing before having dinner at Windows again. After dinner, we went back to the casino where my husband won a $1000 Royal Flush playing video poker!!! He was one happy camper, let me tell you! He has already started drooling over new bowling equipment to buy with his winnings!!!

Sunday we had another NCL shore ex this time a "Grey-line" type bus tour of NOLA. It was a very interesting tour and the tour guide passed around photos of some of the Katrina damage his family home sustained. It really brought the tragedy home to me! The tour dropped us off at the airport where we picked up a rental car and headed up I-10 to Baton Rouge so that my husband could bowl in the tournament mentioned above.

Wednesday, we headed to the NOLA airport again for our long trip home to Seattle.

All in all, we had a very slow paced and relaxing cruise which is exactly what we wanted out of the trip. We ate more meals in the main dining rooms on this cruise than on our last but we were perfectly happy with the selections. We saw 2 of the shows in the main Stardust Theater, the acrobats and the Elements show. Both were excellent! We did not participate in any of the Cruise Director generated shows preferring to relax in our cabin instead. Since the weather was so hot/humid, I was not able to spend very much time on our balcony but I adjusted by bringing the deck chairs inside the cabin, opening up the drapes, and enjoying the view in air conditioned comfort! My husband's only concern was that he might still be weaving a bit on his sea legs when he was trying to bowl! He didn't seem to have any problems so it all worked out well. I will say that the next cruise that we take that goes farther south than San Diego will be happening in December or January at the latest!!! I know, I'm a heat/humidity wimp and I'm proud of it! My husband didn't nickname me Nanook of the North for nothing!!! During our cruise, we were pampered royally by our Butler Akhmed, the concierge Bylkies, and our Steward Armando. Less

Published 04/17/12

Cabin review: SG9210 Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony

Great cabin location in the aft of the ship. We did hear neighbor conversations from the living room but all was quiet on that score from the bedroom. The only time we heard anything from within the bedroom was during the day when the kids above us would run from one end of the pool area to the other. I assume that they were using the pool slide over and over again. It didn't prevent me from taking naps though. The attention to detail that we received from our room Steward Armando and our Butler Akhmed was fantastic! My husband took full advantage of the jetted tub and loved every minute of it! The amount of space in this cabin made it ideal for us!

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