Norwegian Spirit - Bahamas: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by jp2001
Overall Member Rating
Norwegian Spirit - Bahamas
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
My name is Julie and this was my second cruise. The first cruise was on the Norwegian Dawn in December 2003 with a friend of mine. A week and a half before sailing date, I saw this great deal on Internet for a 6-night Bahamas cruise out of New York. I went solo because my boyfriend couldnt get the time off work.
The process seems unorganized at first but when things got rolling, it was very fast and efficient. I was onboard in less than half an hour after moving to the check-in desk.
I live near Quebec City, Canada and decided to take the bus to New York City to keep the cost low (airplane was expensive at last minute and train schedule More didnt work well). The bus arrived around 7:15 am and I had breakfast at the bus station. Then, I refreshed a little in the bus station restrooms and also found a great evening wrap for only 10$ (I was happy because I had no wraps for my evening dresses). It was about 9:00 when I headed for the Port (I thought better to wait there, ship in sight, than in a bus station.
The taxi cab left me on the other side of the street as I instructed him (people were leaving the ship already and didnt want to stay stuck in the traffic). I crossed the street and was in the terminal in less than 5 minutes. I was asked 3 times if I were from the crew or if I was looking for the person in charge of the crew. Its probably because I was travelling alone, Im somewhat young (27) and I arrived there very early.
Inside the building, on top level, there was a NCL representative to help people. Since I was there early, I waited in the restaurant area, drinking a glass of juice. There, I met a very nice couple that I saw and spent time with many other times during the week (Im terrible with names but if I remember well, their names were John and his wife Pat, very nice people). Around 10, we were able to go wait in the waiting area. There all US residents were able to do a pre check-in but since I am Canadian, I couldnt (they said they didnt want to loose my passport at this pre check-in, to wait for the real check-in). Then, they sent all US citizens who were Lattitudes in the Lattitudes waiting area but told me to wait in the main waiting area. Then, I asked another lady who looked like a supervisor of some sort. She wasnt sure and asked me to wait a minute. I waited and she got back to me within a few minutes, telling me to go in the Lattitudes area, its what I did. Around 11, they set up a table with coffee, orange juice, cookies and sandwiches, they were good. They called the Lattitudes members first and then I was first in line for the non US residents check-in. Then, I proceeded to get my key card and then embarkation picture. I was on the ship in about 20 minutes I think.
The rooms would be ready at 2 pm but they allowed me to drop-off my carry-on luggage in my cabin since I had many (I decided to carry on all luggage instead of giving them to the porters. I had 1 small suitcase, 1 large carry-on and my big purse).
SHIP OVERALL LOOK
This ship is great, with an Asian look, classier than the Dawn (and I loved the Dawn).
The outside of the ship has a better line, doesnt look as much as a floating apartment building as other newer ships.
The atrium layout is nice (except for the elevator neon that didnt belong there in my opinion) with the reception desk, the cafe, shore excursion desk, staircases and elevators on deck 7. On deck 8, there are shops and a small bar overlooking the atrium and live bands were playing there on most nights, perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail.
SHIP MY STATEROOM
I booked the cheapest inside GTY and was very lucky to be upgraded to a picture window stateroom. Very nice cabin.
The only thing I didnt like: the bed comforter and sofa were yellow and a kind of pinky orange (yuck) but its not big deal. I removed the comforters and asked my room steward not to put it back on my bed (I preferred the way the white sheets looked).
The bed was comfortable but small. This was not a problem for me but a friend I met on the ship said he had to move his sofa to make a bed extension (he is 64 tall).
The closet was very roomy. I was alone in my stateroom but Im sure 2 people, even 3 would be ok for a seven day cruise. There was also 4 drawers and shelves in the closet.
The bathroom is small but very efficient layout. The shower is big for a ship but small if compared to showers on land.
The window I got was a real treat, I enjoyed room service on busy port days because I dont like the buffet because its too crowded at those times and the dining room takes too much time. SHIP RESTAURANTS
Better quality food than my first cruise, food was very good on average with some excellent meals and some just good ones.
As I said, I had made 4 restaurant reservations on embarkation day. That left 2 nights for the main dinning rooms.
Breakfast: Most days, I ordered a fruit plate and milk as a pre-breakfast before my workout. It was very good and on time most days. I also ordered full breakfast (cold items such as croissant, Danish, cold cereals, fruit, juice, milk) on busy port days since I dont like the buffet crowds nor did I want to spend too much time in the dinning room. I ate breakfast looking out at the window of my cabin, it was nice and relaxing, I recommend it.
The buffet and dining room breakfast was the weak point of the ship in regards to the food. While the danish, croissant, fruit and juice were very good, the apple pancake from the dinning room and the waffles of the buffet were just OK in my opinion and the eggs looked inedible. My very last breakfast was better, the French toast were good but order a double order if its your main item since they give you a very small portion.
Lunch: All lunch options were very good in my opinion. I had dinning room lunch 3 times and each time was very good and I was often offered a table by a window - I guess they tried to make me happy since I was an unfortunate girl travelling solo :). Many times, I had the Cooking Light option and it was very good each time. The frozen yogurt soon became my dessert of choice for lunch. Buffet was also good and add a good variety of items, including vegetarian meals. The BBQ I had on embarkation day and at the island were also very, very good with a good selection of items (chicken, burgers, hot dogs, salads).
Dinner (main dinning rooms): On Monday (formal optional night), I went to Windows dinning room with a father and son combo (the mother of the family had to stay home to take care of the other son). Greg and his father were nice people and I enjoyed the dinner with them. They said the lobster tail and Wellington beef were good, and my fish dish was also excellent.
I went to Garden for the first time on Thursday (second formal optional night) and enjoyed an excellent dinner with Brandon (a guy I met on the cruise, he was very funny and wore his tux on formal night, it was fun since I was also wearing a nice dress). It was French night and the Entrecôte de boeuf (beef sirloin I think) was Excellent (one of the best I ever had, only comparable to the best steakhouse Ive been to). I was very impressed since I didnt expect such a good steak.
On embarkation day, I had signed in for Murder Mystery Dinner and I was supposed to get a letter for the place and time but never got that letter. I am sure I would have enjoyed this type of activity because when I travel solo, its fun to share a dinner with other people and I also like Murder Mystery Dinners.
Dinner (Speciality restaurants): All restaurants were very good but not much better than the dinning rooms in my opinion, better quiet atmosphere though. All speciality restaurants had 50% rebate on 5:30 and 6 pm seating, all week long. A la carte items such as Teppanyaki and Sushi Bar did not have that discount.
Sunday (embarkation day), I went to Teppenyaki at 9 pm. We were only 3 people there and I heard first day is usually slow but other days are often sold out. The menu had a nice selection with most items being 10$ or 12$ pp. The feast option was 15$ pp. I had a 10$ meal and couldnt eat all the food the served me. It was good but they cooked everything with lots of oil (my past experience with teppenyaki food was cooked with water and the taste was better). Overall, I like it but it would definitely taste better without all that oil (maybe its just because our Chef was new to the Teppenyaki position, I dont know).
Tuesday, I went to The Bistro and had a very good meal again. I went at 6 and got the 50% discount. It was a very good meal but not much more better than dinning room food I had on the ship.
Wednesday was a very busy day with Nassau in the morning and Great Stirrup Cay at night. I made a reservation for La Trattoria at 5:30. It was a good meal but I was not very hungry since I had eaten lunch late.
Friday was the last dinner of the cruise. I went to Shogun. I had a reservation at 8:30 but I arrived at 8:15, right after the talent show). I was seated right away, enjoyed one of the best dinner of the cruise and was still able to catch the 9:30 farewell show (I had to say no to the dessert but I was full anyway).
There are many lounges and bars on this ship with all different atmosphere. Everyone can find a place they will like.
Galaxy of the Stars is the bigger lounge and they held some shows (close up magic, comedian, improvisation show, etc.) there and also the pool deck party since it was raining outside. Arrive early if you want a good seat for the shows.
I did see the Celebrity Disco on my ship exploration but havent return there all week. Its located on top deck (deck 13) but they didnt seem to held many activities there.
The Maharinis Night Club is located at the end of the casino and it is the place to be for late night entertainment. There is usually 1 planned activity around 11pm-midnight and then a DJ spins music for people to dance until late at night. They held some shows and silly contests (Ship N Males, Burlesque night, Towel dancing, etc.) to get the party going every night. It was fun, especially for the younger crowds that like to dance on club music.
There is also the Maharinis bar which is a bar next the nightclub, its a nice place for an after dinner cocktail and to meet people.
The Atrium Bar (Champagnes Charlie if I remember well) was perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail when live bands were playing.
Henrys pub was a cool pub. Trivia was held in this pub.
Bier Garten and Raffles Bar were both nice outside bars but I didnt get to enjoy them as much as I would have like (Raffles Bar is very close to the kids pool, best place to grab a drink will supervising your kids).
There are probably other lounge and bars but I cant remember them all.
SHIP OTHER PUBLIC AREAS
All public areas were nice and enjoyable. I read a book in the Library when it was raining outside and it was a quiet spot.
The internet and Card rooms were nice but I didnt have time to enjoy them. The Spa is very nice and the gym is great for a ship (busy at times but manageable). The gym changing rooms were so big with a sauna and steam room. There was also 2 aqua swim pools for people who want pool workout.
I enjoyed the promenade deck on most mornings and also at night for a walk and during the day for reading a book. 3 times around the ship equals 1 mile.
The pool area is nice also but Im not a pool fan so I was not going there too often except for pool games and contests.
The crew members were very friendly and helpful. They smile most of the time, say Hi or Good morning when you meet them in the hallways.
The waiters gave me great service at all meals.
My room steward was OK but could have smiled more or done some things differently. On the first day, there was still a razor in the shower (not my razor) and there was water in the ice bucket. I cleaned the ice bucket myself and used it only to keep a can of diet soda cold, not for putting ice in my drinks). Im not sure the shower floor was cleaned everyday and my bed sheets were definitely not changed on the last sea day (I know because my nose was bleeding just a little the night before (I dont know why, that had never happened to me before) and there was 2 very small drops of blood on the sheets and they were still there after he made the room. Anyway, no big deal since I was the only one in this bed.
The Cruise Director Julie and her staff were really trying to make the activities as much fun as possible. Julie was seen in many events and she was a good Cruise Director IMHO but I didnt like her debarkation talk, I had heard almost all her jokes from the Cruise Director on my previous cruise, her jokes sounded way too phoney.
Dont miss the Crew Talent Show, I didnt see many shows on this cruise but this show was very fun and my favourite one. The crew is very talented. We saw some signing, hip hop, traditional dances, bands, and Fountains from the Cruise Staff& dont miss it.
SHIP ONBOARD ACTIVITIES
Great choice of activities at all times of day and night. I will talk about the activities I joined in.
On embarkation day, I explored the ship a little and indulged in a facial. It was the best facial ever and I can still see the difference on my skin. The facial was pricey (120$) but took over an hour (1h15 I think) and has very good results.
Safety drill - Many people were late and/or wouldnt stop talking. Come on people, safety drills are very important, please shut up and listen to the drill for a few minutes (not more than 15 minutes total).
Sailaway Party - They had a nice BBQ setup. On my cruise on the Dawn (2003) the BBQ was weak, dry hamburgers and plastic plates (which is not a good idea when its windy outside). The Spirit BBQ food was very good and the plates were real ones so the wind had no effects on them. The only problem is that the hamburger meat was slightly undercooked (was perfect on 1 side but still pink on the other, I didnt eat that part of the burger).
Casino free gaming lessons - I intended to learn how to play blackjack and then play a little during the week. I was not impressed with the lessons. There was nobody at the blackjack tables at the lesson time and when I ask if someone would come, its like I was bothering them. The lesson was OK but it was the first time this dealer was giving a lesson so it was a little disorganized. The lesson didnt give me a good impression and I decided not to play (better keep my money for something I would enjoy more& probably a good thing the lesson was not so good then).
If you read Cruise Critic and study deck plans a little, dont bother with the ship tour, I knew more about the ship than the NCL guy giving the tour! :)
I enjoyed the walk-a-mile 3 times on this ship. A nice speed walk with sunrise as background, what a great way to start the day! Often, I would go to the gym after the walk and then go back to my stateroom for a shower and get ready for the day.
On the last sea day, I woke up late (stayed up late the night before, having fun and dancing in Maharinis night club). I didnt do much ship organized activities that day. Instead, I took the day to relax, read and catch some shows. PORTS OF CALL PORT CANAVERAL
I had nothing planned for Port Canaveral. I wanted to keep the costs low and didnt think I would enjoy going to theme parks by myself. I had already seen Kennedy Space Center in 2003 (worth it if you are a space fan). I thought I would stay on the ship but I met John and Pat who were going to Cocoa Beach and I joined them. We didnt stay there long, just the time to see the beach and come back (bus was 10$ return) because it was starting to rain. The area and beach are nothing special but at least I can say I have seen it now.
PORTS OF CALL NASSAU
I exited the ship around 8 am and took a taxi (van for 8 people, 4$+1$ tip each), to Atlantis Resort. What a great place. It is definitely worth a visit. I saw the free aquariums but I didnt go into the dig (29$) because I felt I didnt have time. I explored Atlantis grounds, casino and hotel. It is very nice. They have great artwork all over the place. I came back to the ship (taxi again) and then headed to the straw market to purchase some souvenirs (I found nice handcraft items that are worth it). I also bought duty free liquor (same street as the ship terminal and straw market, just before the market). I returned to the ship at 1pm and had lunch.
PORTS OF CALL GREAT STIRRUP CAY
After leaving Nassau at 2 pm, we had a few hours on the ship and anchored near Great Stirrup Cays, NCL private island, at approximately 7 pm. I took a tender at around 8 pm. On the island, there was beach volley-ball, Tug-O-War but unfortunately a girl was slightly hurt during this activity, live band music and people dancing and also a great limbo and more show. This show was great, the highlight of the night. After the show, I decided to return to the ship. Our tender got stuck on the sand bank and we had to wait for the other tender to get back and pull us.
The next morning, I had room service breakfast, went to the walk-a-mile and then went on the island at around 8 am. The island changed completely from a partying atmosphere to a beach day atmosphere. I started the day with a walk to the lighthouse. It is about 1.5 miles and an easy walk. The lighthouse is nothing special at all and the area around it has not been cleared from vegetation. Still, I took a picture and then continued on the trail. Not very far from the lighthouse, there is a place to take pictures of the other side of the island, I liked it. I came back to the beach, swam a few minutes in the ocean (there were some jelly fish though) and got back to my chair for some reading. At 10 am, the BBQ started and they had good burgers once again. I got back to the ship at around 12:30, it was a fun day at the beach.
The remaining of the day was at sea with a formal optional dress code that night. I had a black cocktail dress that night and I enjoyed a great dinner with Brandon in Garden Room. He was in his tux and many people looked at us because most younger people chose not to dress up but we did and got compliments as well (Brandon told me a couple had a argument about me though but I swear I did nothing wrong, its just that the husband kept trying to look in my dress the whole dinner, but I had not realized that because I was not looking at him and I thought he was looking at the window, not at me& oh well, what can I do? I guess its their problem, not mine since I was NOT dressed in an improper manner but you can judge by yourself, I included a picture of my dress if you do think I was not dressed properly or I looked like a &you know what I mean& please let me know because I wont wear this dress again if its the case).
There was a good mix of all age groups on this cruise and most people I talked to had a very good time. They really had activities for all type of people, from pool parties, nightclub, bingo, shows, lectures, trivia, handcraft workshop, food or beverage clinics, etc. I think there was not much kids on that cruise because I have seen very few of them.
There was a group of French Canadians (from Quebec) on the ship and I talked to them a little (they were happy to hear a little French after being flooded by the English language) and I helped them the last morning by translating a problems they had with their onboard account.
As you probably know, Freestyle Cruising allows to wear resort casual clothes every night of the cruise but there were 2 formal optional nights and, on those night, I would say about 1/3 of the people got dressed with some sort of evening wear for their dinner in the dinning rooms but not necessarily what one would call formal. On those nights, I saw some suits, not many tux and some sports coat for the men who decided to dress up. For the ladies, I didnt see many long gowns but many cocktail dresses or informal dresses, I also saw many ladies wearing evening pant outfits with fancy evening tops. Many people preferred to dress resort casual all week long and its perfect with me.
I saw many jeans on the ship, even at night (but not very many on formal nights) but in the dinning room, most people were dressed according to the dress code, except on the first night where I saw some jeans (not torn and usually worn with a collared shirt) even in the dinning rooms. It didnt bother me at all but if jeans alters your cruise experience, you may not like Norwegian because they didnt seem to strongly enforce the dress code.
During the day, anything goes. I enjoyed wearing knee length skirts with a tank top and a straw hat on many days but I can say that I was one of the only person who dressed this way. Many people were opting for shorts and t-shirts/tank tops, bathing suit and cover-up on the pool deck. The Asian crowd was the best dressed in my opinion with many men wearing slacks and polo shirt during the day and suit at night while the ladies opted for resort casual shorts or skirts with nice t-shirts or blouse. I didnt see many jeans shorts at all, even the days were definitely casual.
As I said earlier in this review, I went on this cruise solo but people were so nice and I did so many activities, I never felt alone, except for those times when I WANTED to find a little quiet spot to read or simply relax by myself.
I talked to many people and everyone I talked to was very nice. Some people were amazed that a girl my age was travelling alone but I explained that it was a last minute decision and my boyfriend couldnt join me on this vacation. I certainly would have preferred if Bruno was with me but I had a great time anyhow and a solo cruise is the best for relaxing, meeting new people and doing lots of activities.
My tip would be to enjoy many ship activities (its a great way to meet people) and bring a good book for those times when no ship activity appeals to you. Teppenyaki is a good experience too because people dont go there for an intimate dinner, more for a show and talk to the other people at the table. The restaurants never asked me if I wanted to share a table with other people but it was not a problem with me since I had dinners with people I met aboard and also enjoyed a leisurely dinner by myself (with a book). Im sure the mystery dinner would have been a fun way to meet people too but it didnt work for me this time.
Remember that I am Canadian. I couldnt take part of the Express Debarkation. Then, I checked 2 small luggage and had only my purse and my souvenir bag with me for debarkation.
Debarkation was not an enjoyable experience but its because I needed to be at the bus station as quickly as possible (still missed my bus but thats another story). If you dont have anything special scheduled that day, I highly recommend that you enjoy breakfast as late as possible and debark after the first rush is over.
I changed my luggage tag color with the reception the day before to get the earliest non US citizen color tags and I went in the Theatre at the scheduled time but debarkation was delayed for 45 minutes. Then, they called our color and we got off the ship but were waiting in many different lines.
Taxi operation was supposed to be well organized but some people were just trying to get in a cab without picking up their ticket first and waiting in line.
Next time, Ill make sure to wait on the ship as long as I can instead of rushing to exit.
Will I sail with NCL again? Definitely yes, especially when they come with such a great bargain. Will I sail the Spirit again? I hope so, I LOVED the ship. Will I sail the Bahamas itinerary again? If they have other great deals like that, I may but I would prefer other Caribbean islands for a change. Will I sail solo again? Hopefully not because I would prefer if Bruno could join me but if he cant, I will definitely go by myself because I had a great time and a cruise is a great vacation for a solo traveller.
I will try to scan and post the daily activity sheet in the following week.
If I can help you with something, dont hesitate to ask. Less