We joined the Norwegian Spirit in Malaga as we live close by. This was a late booking, incentivised by all the New Year special offers included! Check in was exceptionally easy and we were on board before noon, scarcely 15 minutes after arriving at the port.
It was a very wet day and we felt sorry for the majority of the passengers who were visiting Malaga and the surrounding attractions. For us the ship was nearly empty until late afternoon.
This was our second time on Spirit as we did virtually the same cruise in November 2013. Little has changed although this time we were on deck 10, aft, compared to deck 4 forward last time. Given that we again had Force 8 gales in the Atlantic, I think we felt less motion this time.
Food was good. Usually we used the Raffles Court Buffet as we prefer to choose our own selections and quantities. We went once to each of the Windows and Garden restaurants and enjoyed good meals with attentive service. The strip steak was excellent in both. This time we gave the paying restaurants a miss – really unnecessary as so much variety elsewhere.
Cruise Director Jill was previously on Norwegian Epic when we sailed on that last year and I think she has improved the standard of the entertainment team since moving to Spirit. She has amazing energy and seems ever present around the ship. Shows were excellent and some of the individuals in her team were born to entertain wherever on the ship they were helping out.
The majority of passengers board in Barcelona and we found all the crew assumed we were leaving on our second day. The daily news-sheet also starts with Day 1 in Barcelona so we boarded on Day 9! Occasionally this caused confusion when prize draws were being made after we left the ship.
We enjoyed the art auctions and found some of the auctioneer’s talks very informative, even making a carry off purchase.
For the itinerary of the cruise we love Barcelona and did our own thing using the shuttle bus and the metro. In Casablanca we took the NCL tour of the city including the Hassan Mosque. The latter was most impressive and our guide was brilliant, explaining more than we expected about local customs We had visited Funchal before but this time took the cable car to Monte and came down on the toboggan – an experience not to be missed once in a lifetime! In Tenerife we walked around Santa Cruz on our own and on Lanzarote we took the NCL Cesar Manrique tour which was most enjoyable.
Our cabin steward was efficient and friendly and the cabin had all we needed. There seemed to be much more space in the balcony cabin, compared to the ocean-view we had last time. All the crew seemed very happy with their work. We thought there were less waiters around than previously – maybe reflecting the fact that many people now have free drinks packages so less incentive for NCL to maximize drink revenue.
We joined the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet and admire the senior officers for attending and talking to a relatively small group. We also met up with some of the others who were at the M & G when on the tours. Good to have a few familiar faces.
Disembarcation was simple – choosing our own luggage labels for the time we wanted.
We expect to sail with NCL again.
Our cabin steward, Sanjay, was efficient and friendly and the cabin had all we needed. There seemed to be much more space in the balcony cabin, compared to the ocean-view we had last time. Spirit was built for the Asian market so bathroom space is tight but manageable.