NCL Spirit Christmas Cruise: Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by Dennbr9

Norwegian Spirit 5
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NCL Spirit Christmas Cruise

Sail Date: December 2007
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: New Orleans
This was our 15th Cruise and our first with NCL Freestyle Cruising, or anytime dining, etc. We were and still are fans of Traditional Dining although I can see where some would like this type of format as it is nice to adjust your eating time to what you want to do, or if you are traveling with a large group. For us though we always sat at a table for four where we usually ask for the largest table we can get. The others at your table are only strangers the first day and familiar faces there after. We also like it when the wait staff knows your likes and dislikes and have little things like fresh lemon waiting for you.

Now the Cruise: We arrived at the Pier at about 12:00 after spending two nights in the French Quarter at the Hotel Monteleone pre-cruise. We were on board before 12:30 and having lunch in Raffles and checking out the ship until we could get to our Cabin at 2:00. We had planned a CC Group meeting for 3:00 at Raffles Bar, but no one was there as the Temp was More only in the low 50's and too cold to be sitting outside. Muster Drill was at 4:30 and our luggage had shown up just before that.

Dinner that night was in Windows and getting there about 7:00 we only had to wait about 15 minutes to get our table. Service was good throughout the Cruise, but a little rushed at times compared to Traditional Seating. The Show that night was an Acrobat Family that did a nice enjoyable job and we tried the Casino for a bit after that. The Bed was not really soft, but I have had worse and heard they are going to be upgraded to more Pillow top mattresses that we have seen on Princess and RCL on two prior Cruises. In the mean time I would ask for an egg crate for now.

Monday was Christmas Eve, a Sea Day, and the Ship was decorated very nicely for the Holidays. We did the Buffet for Breakfast and found it typical of Cruise ships. They do have a Fresh Omelet ( or eggs to order) bar and a fresh Waffle area which were very good. Sometimes you had to wait a bit in line for them, but it moved pretty quickly and if you were in a hurry, there were plenty of other options. The lunch Buffet had a Fresh Stir Fry location as well as Hand Packed Ice cream selections.

Weather was in the 80's so the usual Chair issues were there, but managed to work it out through out the trip. Dinner was in Windows again and the wait was about 15 minutes that night also ( at about 7:30). Great Christmas Eve activities including a Christmas Show in the Theatre, open Caroling in the Atrium Lobby and late night Church Services offered in two locations.

Christmas Day was to be in Roatan, Honduras but due to engine issues we were told about the week before, the Schedule was changed so that Roatan was on Wednesday, with Christmas being another Sea Day. Did not bother us at all as we enjoy Sea Days and made Christmas Day very relaxing. Weather again was beautiful and in the 80's. I booked Le Bistro for the next night for the four of us as you can do so starting around noon of the prior day.

We had some Formal picture taken that evening and actually the Photographers were not quite as bad on this cruise as others I had been on. Christmas Dinner in Windows was Turkey, Beef Tenderloin and some other choices. The Tenderloin was pretty good, though it did take be awhile to get my wine that night.

Wednesday was our Roatan Stop and we had a Snuba ( not Scuba) Excursion booked through the ship. This was a lot of fun, sitting on the bottom of the Ocean or swimming along the reefs breathing normally through a Regulator attached by a hose to air tanks above on a raft. All had a great time. Weather was hot and a little sticky, but better than snow in Michigan for sure.

Dinner at Le Bistro was excellent. Surcharge is $15.00 pp, but we opted for the Rack of Lamb for two ( all four of us) so it ended up being $25.00 pp as there is an additional $10 charge for that or the Chateaubriand (sp?). Service was great, but again as we saw in the dining room at times, some people take the Casual dining to an extreme. What can you do?

Thursday was Belize, Guatemala stop was eliminated due to the engine problem ( running on only three instead of four engines after small fire the week before),. This is a Tender Port and open tenders started about 9:30. Longer Tender Ride then normal, but they did use Private Tenders instead of Lifeboats and process was smooth. Next time I think I would book a Beach Tour here as there are no natural Beaches there without taking a boat to another small Island off shore. We did go to a "Beach" area by Taxi, but it was a man made Beach and the Water was not as nice as we would have liked. Temps hit the mid to upper 90's, so the water felt great though.

Shopping here is in a Strip of stores by the Tender Pier and include all the normal Diamonds International type choices as well as T Shirt and trinket shops mixed in. Had dinner in the Garden Room and walked right in at 7:00. I found the Garden to be a little less hectic, but they still seemed to push the courses at you as if they wanted to clear the table for the next group. Much less leisurely than Traditional.

The Show that night was a Second City Improv Group in the Galaxy Bar and was pretty good but get there early for a good seat as with most of the Shows. Beer Festival that night in the Bier Garden with table top dancing, etc.

Friday was Cozumel where the our DDs did the Dolphin Encounter and DW and I relaxed around the pool in the morning. They were back about 11:15 and we all had lunch at went shopping along the main drag of shops in Cozumel. Went down later that day to the Bridge Viewing Area down a spiral staircase in the Galaxy Bar on Deck 12. Interesting to see all the monitors and the Captain, etc guiding the ship on it's way out to Sea.

Walked right into the Garden Room again at 7:00, no waiting. This is Lobster Night as well as Beef Wellington, both were great. I ordered both and the Lobster came with the Beef. It was a ½ full size tail, but had to ask for drawn butter. One of my DDs tried the Lobster also, did not care for it yet, so I ended up with two pieces - darn!

DW and DDs went to the Crew Talent Show and then we met in Galaxy for the Quest. This was MC'd by two of the Second City performers and they did a great job. Only bad thing was that our customs info and luggage tags were in our room that night ?

Saturday, the last full day, was at Sea. I was up early so went down and "hogged" us four chairs about 7:45. Most of the Chairs in the Sun around the lower pool area were taken up most days by 8:00 to 8:30. A good quiet place to get some sun though is at the stern of the ship where the Helicopter pad is. Quiet there also is you want to read or snooze.

There was a Chocolate Buffet from 2:00 to 3:00 in Window today. The dinner menu in Windows/Garden Rooms was not too appealing to any of us so we opted to eat at the Buffet which was pretty good. Stir Fry Bar was open, they had a nice Round of Beef being carved, and the Salad Bar was a nice change from the Salads in the dining room.

There was a Chocolate Buffet from 2:00 to 3:00 in Window today. The dinner menu in Windows/Garden Rooms was not too appealing to any of us so we opted to eat at the Buffet which was pretty good. Stir Fry Bar was open, they had a nice Round of Beef being carved, and the Salad Bar was a nice change from the Salads in the dining room.

There was a pretty good Rock and Roll Show that night in the Galaxy Bar led by the Cruise Director on his Electric Guitar. He did a nice job and everyone was "jamming' and dancing the last night away.

Sunday and disembarkation day went very smoothly also. You can stay in your cabin until 10:00, breakfast in the Buffet runs until 10:00, and since we had a late flight we did not get called off the ship until about 11:00. Breezed right through luggage pick up and customs and grabbed a Taxi to the airport - very well done.

This was a great Cruise and we enjoyed most everything about NCL, but we still prefer Traditional Dining so will not probably do another NCL Freestyle Cruise unless we are travelling with a larger group. Just not what we prefer for now. Less

Published 01/02/08

Cabin review: ID8019 Inside

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