I was part of a group of four people in two cabins who took a six-night cruise on the Norwegian Spirit in September 2007. Our itinerary included Canada and New England.
Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal on the Hudson in New York City at 1:45 for our 4:00 departure. The line was long, but with forty agents processing arriving passengers, we were onboard in a painless twenty minutes.
Ship: The Spirit was originally in service in Asia. Its decor retains many eastern touches. We thought the ship beautiful and more elegant than some of the other ships we had been on which tended to be garish. The ship was quite clean with the crew constantly scrubbing, vacuuming, dusting, and polishing.
Cabin: We booked the least expensive cabin on the ship. It proved to be serviceable though not especially attractive. The bed was not the best. There was plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom was ample. Our cabin steward did a great job of keeping our cabin clean and was very cheerful. When we called for extra items, we had them in a matter of minutes.
Dining: The Spirit features Norwegian's Freestyle dining, so there are many different restaurants, the best of which are open only at dinner. We ate at Window's, one of the main dining rooms, six days for breakfast, lunch twice, and once for dinner. Windows is a very beautiful space with large arched windows looking out the stern of the ship. The breakfast and lunch menus never varied. The food--breakfast, lunch and dinner--was decent though not exciting. Some of the food was not warm enough when it arrived, perhaps due to the large distance from the kitchen, and occasionally the portions were small. The service was generally quite good. We ate one morning at Raffles, the ship's buffet. The breakfast food there was actually better with omelets and waffles made while you wait. The atmosphere was rather hectic, so we returned to Windows for breakfast after that. We had lunch at Raffles one time and preferred Windows. Our one lunch at the Blue Lagoon was bad. I had read reviews saying the best food on the ship was at the premium specialty restaurants--and that certainly proved to be true. We had dinner at Le Bistro(French), Shogun(Asian), Trattoria(Italian), and twice at Cagney's(steaks, etc.). The food and service were always excellent. There was an extra charge of $10-20 for all the premium restaurants, except Trattoria, and they were definitely worth the extra money. Reservations are necessary and can be made starting the day before. We ate later (8:15-8:30), so reservations were never a problem.
Service: I thought the service was the best feature of the cruise. Overall, the service was excellent with a few minor lapses. The staff was uniformly polite and helpful and generally quite friendly.
Entertainment: We took in little of the entertainment onboard. We mostly heard the performers in the main atrium before dinner. They were generally good. We caught part of the NCL singers and dancers doing a Broadway medley. It was energetic and enjoyable. There was very little going on aboard the Spirit after 10:30. The only activity was in the casino.
Shore Excursions: We did not take any of NCL's excursions. At Halifax, we took FRED which is a free bus that makes a loop around the central part of the city. In Bar Harbor we had major problems tendering. Once ashore, we took a bus tour given by Acadia National Park Tours that was excellent. The one thing you must do in Bar Harbor is go to the top of Cadillac Mountain. We walked around Boston from the Public Gardens to the North End. Never having been to Martha's Vineyard, I was surprised by just how charming and picturesque it is.
Disembarkation: We chose express disembarkation. There was a wait for those who disembarked first. At 9:15 it took us a total of ten minutes to get off the ship.
I was very pleased with the cruise, especially considering how inexpensive it was. I strongly suggest that you spend the extra money to eat in the specialty restaurants. It was an interesting itinerary.