Wonderful Adventure!: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by DDisaster86

Norwegian Spirit 5
Member Since 2011
6 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Wonderful Adventure!

Sail Date: June 2012
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Venice
To start off with some background, my husband and I are 25 and 26 and we are spending these years traveling while I'm still in grad school and no kids are in the picture! I also generally prefer to do my own planning and am more of an independent traveler. I was afraid a cruise to this area wouldn't allow that, but it totally did! It was the perfect way to see the Mediterranean, at least for a first glance. Also a quick tip - we booked 5 months in advance and a couple weeks before I noticed the prices dropped about $800 a person. I called just curious if they could provide an upgrade or credit and to my surprise they upgraded us from inside to balcony! Very impressed with their generosity given that they had no obligation to! For the rest of the review I'll separate things in to categories as best as possible:

I'll leave the comments about the room in the deck plans review! But real quick, the cabin was great, the noise was annoying.

Food: We pretty much only More ate dinner on the ship, with the occasional breakfast. We did the buffet for most dinners, but there were also a handful of days we did Windows. The buffet had a decent selection, but that selection didn't seem to change much from day to day. Also, the quality didn't always seem amazing. There was a large amount of fresh fruit and bread though! The Windows dining area was nice and quiet, but it did require slightly formal wear every night. The food at Windows was about on par with other cruises I've been on, maybe slightly lower quality. The Blue Lagoon had really good American type food, but the service wasn't great there. I would have liked to see more pizza and sandwich options overall on the ship.

Entertainment: We only went to the evening shows in the main theater and a couple of the game shows. I was fine with most of the evening shows. I particularly liked the Broadway night, Angels (acrobats), and the final show Elements. The Flaminco dancers were my least favorite. I thought the shows were better than the Carnival cruises I've been on.

Onboard expenses: I'm cheap, so I didn't go over our $100 of onboard credit when buying alcohol. It still went a far way though. I'd suggest buying the Fosters beer because the size for the money is best. Also, if you're willing to stray from Miller, Bud, Coors then the "better beers" (in my opinion) were more affordable. Also, at the Henry's Pub the mixed drinks were made quite strong, so I felt you got your moneys worth :) As for exchanging money on board, I'd say don't if you can possibly help it. It's a $10 fee and the exchange rate is insane. Nearly every port has a plethora of ATMs, use these instead!! Same with internet, the rates are crazy. Most ports had internet cafes or free internet somewhere around, wait until you are out and slip into one!

Service: Nothing to say, but great! Friendly staff and crew, especially room service... but I've always had a good experience with this on cruises.

Embarkation/Disembarkation: Great, fast experience! We got there right at 12pm on embarkation day and went right through with no problems, our bags got to our room a couple hours later. Disembarkation we waited until the last minute and there was still quite a few people leaving, but we had no problems getting off or using elevators for our bags. When you get off at Barcelona, either take a taxi (the line was horrendous) or take the shuttle to the Columbus Monument (runs every 30/40 mins, so it can be a wait). Also related to getting on/off the ship... we were on time, early, or within 10 mins late for every port... very impressed by that!

Ports that I couldn't include in the port reviews:
Venice: We flew in the day before (got in about 1pm on the 26th). We had prepaid through Venice Connected for our transportation passes. This ended up being very useful! We took the bus to the first vaporetto stop and hopped on the vaporetto to Rialto Bridge. Our hotel was a short walk from the bridge, but we the confusing streets and bags it was a bit tiring. Bring a map! We stayed at the Locanda La Corte and loved it! It was a two-story room with a large sitting area and bathroom upstairs. The bed was a bit hard and there was no free breakfast, but besides that we really liked it. We used our passes quite a bit to go up and down the Grand Canal, so well worth the price. It was also fun just to walk around the canals.. you can't get too lost usually. The prices are a bit high, but if you get away from Grand Canal and St. Mark's you can get slightly more authentic, cheaper food and souvenirs. To get to the ship, take the vaporetto back to where the bus drops you off and take the people mover (they'll be signs) to the ship. Make note that our muster time was 4:30, so plan around that cause you need to be there.

Toulon: We went to Cassis this day. Unfortunately docking time didn't allow us to get to the 9:30am train out to Cassis, so we got the 10:55am one. We walked to the train station (about 20 mins). Cassis was about 25 mins away and there was a bus waiting at the train station to take you into town. These seem to only come every 30/40 mins and there are no taxis. When in town we got a 5 calanque boat tour (65 mins) and pretty much hopped right on. This was well worth it and beautiful (google pics of these)! But we were a bit stressed getting to the train station, as we had to wait a while for the bus back.

Overall, the Spirit was a good ship, but the itinerary really made the trip! It was wonderful! I'm cheap and we don't have a lot of money to work with, so we did all but one port on our own. It is VERY doable to do this if you don't want to pay the crazy price for excursions. Buy Rick Steves book (God-send) and do your research. Public transportation is a breeze in most ports and MUCH cheaper than a private van. Also, don't be fooled by the "you need a group tour to skip lines", just buy the tickets online ahead of time... we skipped long lines for Vatican, Colosseum, and Accademia! If you are doing things on your own make an effort to be off the boat ASAP (it's not hard, just show up 10 mins before scheduled docking on the floor above the gangway). A lot of the times we beat the tours to the sights. Email me if you have further questions: dnagele@udel.edu Less

Published 07/14/12

Cabin review: B311662 Family Balcony

The room was spacious, clean, and nice. The balcony was well worth it and being on the port side we almost always had the better views! The storage space was fine and the bathroom was bigger than Carnival. My only complaint was the noise. We were right below the staircase from floor 13 to 12 in the Raffles Terrace area. So it sounded like the ceiling was caving in every time someone used the stairs. Also the crew would clean that area under those stairs every night. The times for this changed, but some nights noise from their carts went until 1 am.

Read All Family Balcony (B3) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We used the metro to zip into town and went right to the Acropolis. We beat the hordes and had the place nearly to ourselves for the first 20 minutes :) It was incredible and well worth it, the views of the city are also great. We also went to the Temple of Zeus, worth a look if you have time. We went to Syntagma Square, but there wasn't much to do around there. We had food near the Ancient Agora and the service and quality was excellent! It wasn't even that expensive and you get to eat outside and people watch!

We stayed the night here, so we took the bus to the Columbus Monument and then walked about 10 mins to our hotel. We stayed at the Barcelo Raval. It is very modern styled and within a close distance to the Las Ramblas. Again the rooms are MODERN, so not much shower privacy if that bothers you. We loved the place though. My only complaint was the noise from outside and the unhelpfulness of one of the ladies at the front desk. Barcelona was an awesome city with a wonderful metro system! We were so tired at this point though, so it was a bit of a blur. We took the metro (do they 10 trip pass) to the Sagrada Familia, but didn't go in at that time because of the line. Then we went to Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, but didn't go in because of the prices. We also went to Parc Guell... this was my favorite part. It's a neat park that hosts a variety of Gaudi decorations and designs! Very relaxing and beautiful! Then we went back to Sagrada Familia and stood in line. The line looked crazy, but it actually only took 15 mins to get in. The price is a little expensive, but it helps with the construction and it is worth seeing inside! **Try churros con chocolate... the chocolate is hot pudding stuff and it's amazing! When getting to the airport the next day the hotel led us to believe there was only a taxi (expensive), or a aerobus (only took cash, which we were out of). But a bit of research showed that bus 46 takes you there as well and uses the same tickets as the metro system (by far the cheapest). If you have cash I would still suggest the aerobus because it's not much more and the pickup spots are more convenient.
Read 1726 Barcelona Reviews

Somehow we managed Pisa and Florence on our own, with time to spare. Walk into town and then get the public bus to the train station. Get the soonest train out and take a public bus to the tower in Pisa. We ran up grabbed some pics and took the bus back to the train station. (Probably can't fit in climbing the tower) Trains from there to Florence run constantly, so it isn't a big deal to jump back on. We had again prebooked Academia and skipped all the line and went right in after lunch in Florence. The museum is very small, but Statue of David is sooo worth it in my eyes :) We had time to spare to see the Duomo, the bridge, and do some shopping. Watch the train schedule though and don't do any later than the 3:30 train back!

I loved this port, probably my favorite! We hung out with the same couple we took the Ephesus tour with... just seem to work well together! We opted out of any public transportation and walked everywhere. This was doable, but tiring. I still recommend walking though, because you really get a feel for the city. Hagia Sofia was closed, but we went into the Blue Mosque, free and well worth it! The Grand Bazaar was so fun! Be prepared for crowds and pushy merchants... have fun with it. I loved haggling down the price (expected and necessary)! The Spice Market is also exciting... we got tea and turkish delight there. We had kebaps, beer, and tea for lunch and dropped our stuff off at the ship before going back out to do the Bosphorus boat tour. This was relaxing and scenic... worth it if you have time. Also, don't pay more than 10 lira a person for it, some street merchants will try to get more.
Read 403 Istanbul Reviews

Archaeological Site of Ephesus

Got picked up right outside the ship and driven to the Ephesus ruins in an air-conditioned van. We hooked up with a fellow cruise critic couple we met through the forums and shared the cost with them (very reasonable prices). The countryside is surprisingly beautiful on the way. The tour through the ruins was fine, but it was the ruins themselves that were amazing! I loved the Library and the amphitheater is incredible! These were my favorite ruins of the trip!

City Tour

We went to a carpet weaving college on the way back. This was definitely a tourist trap, but was actually really fun, with no pressure to buy. They showed us how the weaving worked and then displayed a bunch of rugs to us. The lady with us had a birthday that day so they surprised her with a cake! It was delicious! We also had tea and turkish coffee. My only complaint was lunch is promised and included in the price and this did not happen because of the time our ship was porting. It wasn't a big deal, but I feel we should have gotten a discount because of it.

*Warning* You tender at this port and the line for tender tickets gets crazy. They say pick up tickets at 1:30... get there at 12:30 and bring a book. They started handing them out around 1 instead. We got the first tender, but they get out all the NCL tour groups before the other tenders... so we were actually like 6th. Make sure you stand near the "getting off area" because the tender number calling was disorganized and you may miss your turn. The port itself was picturesque, but not a lot to do. We saw the white church and windmills, stopped at a internet cafe (15mins for 1euro - comps available), and then took a local bus to Agios Ioannis beach. We only stayed there for an hour... just walked around, didn't swim. I would recommend that beach.. pretty and not terribly crowded.
Read 820 Mykonos Reviews

We decided to do Pompeii and Sorrento on our own. If you're following Rick Steve's, the bus stops are really there anymore (construction). Buy the tickets at the tabacchi shop, but use the tram to get to the train station. We got to Pompeii quickly after that, but there was a staff meeting and it didn't open for another hour :( This worked out well though, because we were some of the first in and had the place to ourselves for a bit. I was a bit bored by the ruins though... it was kind of repetitive... so we only stayed an hour or so. Then we went on to Sorrento. We had pizza there and visited the lemon grove garden (worth a walk through and free with limoncello tasting in the middle). Aside from this there isn't much to do besides admire the views. We took the hydrofoil back to the ship (drops you off right in front of it). Looking back I would have skipped Sorrento and done the Archeological Museum in Naples or Capri.
Read 1161 Naples Reviews

This would have been a perfect day if it weren't for the metro strike. It didn't mess anything up, but we had to pay a bit more to take taxis around town. This is again a doable on your own day if you book the entrance fees ahead of time!! We went straight to the Vatican (walkable from the San Pietro station) and skipped the lines. As Rick Steves suggests... use the right exit out of Sistine Chapel to go right to St. Peters Basilica (it's a group exit only, but no one monitors it). St. Peter's Basilica was the most beautiful building I've ever seen on the inside, worth it!! The Colosseum also did not disappoint! And we skipped CRAZY line by buying tickets ahead! If you have time the Roman Forum ruins are interesting and worth a walk through.

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