Norwegian Spirit - Eastern Caribbean: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by SUNNYCARIB2006

Norwegian Spirit 5

Overall Member Rating

Norwegian Spirit - Eastern Caribbean

Sail Date: June 2006
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
6/24/06  7/02/06 with ports of call to St. Thomas, Tortola and Bermuda

We just got back from NCL Spirits 8-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. We had a FANTASTIC time! We are a family of four from Long Island. With a son just out of college, the only thing we were able to afford was an inside stateroom. This room could accommodate up to four people  twin-sized bed on each side of the walls, a bunk bed on top and a pullout bed. This pullout bed is hidden beneath one of the twin beds in the daytime and pulled out at night. Floor space at night was limited when this fourth bed was pulled out, but it was do-able. The bottom of the other bed could be used as storage. It was spacious enough for backpacks and duffel bags. There were four small drawers near the desk. These drawers could be used to store iPods, socks, and other small personal items (i.e. cameras, batteries, tour books, etc.) The closet had plenty of hangers with shelves at the corner, a safe on the bottom, and More life jackets on top. The room had a small TV located on top corner of the room and played the latest DVD movies and other limited channels. We had two stewards who came in the morning and nighttime to clean the room and make the beds. If you want to sleep late, put out a Do Not Disturb sign the night before.

Before the trip I bought a closet organizer at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20. (If you used their 20% coupon, this became $16.) It has 6 shelve with 3 side pockets on each side (a total of 6 side pockets) to store your shoes. This came in very handy, as it took the flip-flops and sneakers off the floor. It took very little space when unopened. I also bought a short extension cord. There was a plug near the desk. I was able to recharge my camcorder while the children recharged their iPods. I also bought a 2-way radio, but it kept picking up other peoples lines so we stopped using it. I wished I had left this at home, as it was rather heavy.

The bathroom was surprisingly larger than I remembered from my previous cruises. The shower was wonderful with a great water pressure. There was a shampoo and soap dispenser. The ventilation worked very well. The toilet emitted a loud suction sound every time you flushed. Little ones might be frightened by this sound.

FOOD: The minute we got on the ship (which was around 1:00 PM), we stood on line for the specialty restaurants for reservation. It took a LONG TIME before we were able to make our reservations. The specialty restaurants were definitely well worth the wait. Sunday was the Captains Night (formal dressing). Dont make reservation at the specialty restaurants on this night. Instead, make a reservation at Windows. On this night, you can order a NY strip steak and/or a lobster tail for dinner. It was delicious! Id definitely recommend making reservation at Le Bistro the first night because the price was half off. Do ask the receptionist for the early bird specials. Id also recommend eating at least once at Cagneys Steakhouse. Their 24 oz porterhouse was $5 over the cover charge (making it $25 pp), otherwise, stick with their filet mignon and its $20. Also, if you order a bottle of wine and you dont finish it, they will store it for you and you can request it at your next meal at any restaurant. Ask for receipt. My husband and I werent crazy about Shogun, but the kids liked the Peking duck and green tea ice cream. The Sushi bar and Teppanyaki were a la carte prices. There was a $5 pp cancellation fee at the specialty restaurants if you didnt cancel within 24 hr.

Of course, you dont have to eat at the specialty restaurants and pay extra. Their Windows, Garden Room, Raffles Court, and La Trattoria restaurants were all free and food selection was good. If you know the approximate time your family will be eating, you should make reservation for these restaurants as well. They can get crowded and you may need to wait (except at Raffles where they serve buffet style). Blue Lagoon was opened 24 hrs. It had limited oriental selection, along with burgers and hot dogs. My daughter loved them and shes a very finicky eater.

There was a large selection of breakfast items at Raffles. The omelet line was always long, so I got precooked scrambled eggs with mushroom instead. It was just as good. (I did sample their omelet one day when the line was short. I ordered the Western omelet and it was delicious. No wonder the line was always long!) There were plenty of smoked salmon, cream cheese, pickled herring and baked goods to go around. Every afternoon there was a BBQ near the pool. You could get burgers and hot dogs, chickens and sometimes corn-on-the cobs. It you couldnt find a table near the pool, take your plate to Raffles, or any other area where you can find seats. Dont get frustrated. People stake out the lounge chairs and tables near the pool very early in the morning.

On the last day at sea, there was a chocolate extravaganza at Windows from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Not to be missed! Bring your camera and appetite.

EXCURSIONS: Get in line for excursions as soon as you can on the 7th deck atrium because all the popular excursions will go pretty fast. (For St. Thomas excursions, all the St. Johns tours were sold out by 2:00 PM.) We opted for Megans Bay Beach Getaway and Skyride to Paradise Point. Megans Bay Beach was everything the tour book said  it was very beautiful and VERY CROWDED! But it was worth it to be at one of the worlds top 10 beaches. On the way back, we asked the driver to drop us off at Paradise Point located close to where the ship was docked. The ride to the top was 7 min. and we saw a spectacular view of Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the NCL Spirit. Great place to take a picture of the entire ship! At the Skyride cafe, we got pizza and drinks (pina colada and their famous Baileys Bushwhacker). Go easy on the drinks. They were quite intoxicating. Show your Skyride ticket and youll get $1 off your drink.

In Tortola, we booked the Virgin Gorda Highlights tour. A ferry docked close to the ship picked us up. The ride was approximately 30 minutes. (Wear your Sea Bands for this trip because the ride can be rough.) Once in Virgin Gorda, we were transferred by an open air taxi from Spanish Town to Baths. After the taxi dropped us off, we had to walk a narrow path full of rocks before getting to the beach. Wear comfortable shoes. You can buy cold drinks here, so you dont need to carry too many beverages. Also, on the way back to the ferry, youll receive free fruit punch. It was refreshing! Once back in Tortola, we still had time, so we walked around. There were plenty of venders and stores near the ship.

In Bermuda, there was a time difference. You need to ADVANCE your watch by 1 hr. We opted to go on our own in this port. A ticket for unlimited ferry and bus ride in Bermuda was $12 pp. Children under 18 was $6. You can buy tickets right next to the ship. We took a trip to Crystal and Fantasy Caves. To see both caves cost $21 pp (I believe children under 12 is $10); otherwise, its $15 per cave. Crystal Cave was much bigger, and in our view, more spectacular. The story has it that two boys were playing cricket and lost their ball down a hole. They went to retrieve it and found the cave. Youll see the place where the ball came rolling down. You can see the daylight coming down the hole. It was fascinating to see such azure blue water at the bottom of each cave. Allow a lot of time for this trip, if you are interested. The ferry ride from Kings Wharf to City of Hamilton was approx. 30 minutes. (This ferry ride was very smooth.) It took another 30 minutes to get to the caves by bus (we took #1 bus). Since you cannot walk down the caves on your own, allow extra time to wait for the tour group to assemble. I wouldnt recommend this to people who were claustrophobic or have knee problems and if you have young children, use your judgment. They might be frightened by darkness, although the caves were well lit. The temperature inside the caves was 70 degree. You dont need to bring jacket.

On all the ports, youll need your room key and a photo ID to get back to the ship. All bags go through the X-ray machine in Deck 4.

ENTERTAINMENT: There was always something going on in the ship throughout the day and night. We all enjoyed the nightly shows. From the Showtime On the Radio, a musical tribute to the radio hits from the '60s to '90s (wonderful vocals and dancing!), Ed Alonzos funny magic antics (little ones will love this!), to the hypnotic Dr. Trance  all were very well done. There was also Chicagos famed comedy troupe, The Second City. I thought their skits were bit dry, but thats just my opinion. At any rate, go to the Stardust Theater early to get good seats on the balcony. Shows were usually shown at 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM. Check the Freestyle Daily.

There was a No Limit Texas Holdem Tournament on Wed night and my son decided to try his hand on it. This was his first tournament. The buy-in was $60 and he spent another $60 for re-buy. There were approximately 50 players in all. The final 5 players got the cash prices. My son came in second place and won close to $1,300!

OVERALL: NCL Spirit is beautifully decorated and a wonderful ship. Disappointments came in the form of too few lounge chairs on the 7th Deck and the tiny pool. Make due with other activities. My husband and son played plenty of ping-pong among themselves and with other guests, while my daughter and I watched, read or sunbathed. (If you are an avid ping-pong player, bring your own paddle. Theirs were worn down.)

The 12th deck had fitness facility with many exercise machines. For someone who never joined gym before, this was a heavenly sight! After you get off the elevator, turn to your right and go through the Spa. So, dont forget to pack your exercise outfit and sneakers and make use of this facility. (Please note that young children are not allowed in this room.)

Collecting our duty free liquor was a trial. You can get it on the last day of the sailing between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM on 8th deck, near the photo gallery. You had to wait in line for a LONG TIME before getting your precious order. The reason was that the crews had to gather all your onboard purchases PLUS your port purchases. I wasnt there, so I couldnt give you too much detail, but my husband and son were. When they finally met me for dinner, they were pretty flustered. After a memorable last dinner at Cagneys, however, both of them calmed down again.

Everywhere you go there will be people asking you if you want to buy drinks. Dont feel obligated or resentful. When asked, just smile and say no thank you if you dont want any. The staff members are only doing their jobs. They are not trying to rob you.

Since you can use your key card to charge drinks and other purchases, the charges can add up pretty fast. Keep a tub of all your familys expenditures on board. You can request a statement the night before you disembark and check it against your list. This will leave you free the next morning for last minute packing. Dont forget that ship will automatically charge you $10 pp per night for gratuities

Disembarkation was very easy and we breezed right through. NCL has express checkout for people with US Passport. You do need to carry your belongings yourself. We were out and in our car in no time. We left the pier around 8:30 AM and were home by 9:30 AM. It was a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful cruise! Less

Published 07/11/06

Cabin review: IF5017 Inside

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