Overall this cruise met our expectations. My wife and I are experienced cruisers. This was our eighth cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines and our fifteenth cruise in total. We live in the Boston area so we did not do any Boston sightseeing before the cruise and we didn't have to deal with airline connections. Our son drove us to the Boston cruise port and we began the embarkation process at about 12:30 PM. The embarkation process took about an hour and it clearly could have run smoother. I was a little irked that the Lattitudes line moved slower than the non-Lattitudes line. The non-Lattitudes couple directly in front of us when the lines were separated were on the ship ten minutes before us. The ship is fairly elegant, not as tacky as a lot of the new ships. The ship never seemed crowded. There were no problems getting elevators or getting good seats at the shows. There were no waiting lines to get off the ship while in port even when we were tendering. There were no waiting lines at the main restaurants (we ate at 5:30 PM each night and were always seated immediately)and everything worked fairly smoothly at the buffet(there was never more than two people ahead of me when I stood in line for my daily made-to-order omelet). This was the first cruise we were on where trays were not used, so navigating the buffet was a bit cumbersome. Our inside cabin on deck nine was large enough for two people with more than enough space for our clothes and other belongings. We never saw our room steward but the room was always clean and well stocked, and we were never interrupted for service.
The food at the buffet and in the two main dining rooms was varied and more than acceptable. We did not eat at any of the specialized restaurants with the cover charges. The service at the dining rooms was excellent. All the shows were entertaining. The two song and dance shows had good music and energetic dancers.The comedian/mentalist was especially good and I spent the whole show saying to myself "How did he do that?". The Second City troupe's skits were funny but I didn't think their improv work was that good.The juggler's act was pretty standard but still worth watching nonetheless. Since we carried our own bags off the ship, disembarkation was a breeze. The only real disappointment we had with this cruise was that we pulled into each port during the early morning before it was light so we really couldn't appreciate what we consider a highlight of every cruise.
In La Baie, Quebec we took the ship's excursion to the Saguenay National Park where we took a Zodiac tour of the only fjord in North America. Despite the rainy weather we had an enjoyable day on the river. They gave us heavy water-proof jackets to wear but we still got pretty wet. The Zodiac boats were a good way to see the fjord and the national park. The cost was $105 per person and included a one hour bus ride (in a real yellow school bus) each way. In Sydney, Nova Scotia we spent the morning walking through the old section of the town which was right in front of the area where the ship was docked. We were provided with a free map right at the dock. In the afternoon we took the ship's excursion to the Fortress at Louisbourg. We had a great guide who not only explained the history of the Fortress but also gave us a rich perspective of the history and culture of Cape Breton Island. Because of a mix-up the excursion only cost us $70 per person instead of the publicized price of $86. Taking a cab to the Fortress or renting a car for the trip would have been just as expensive and you wouldn't have had the benefit of the guide.
The cabin (Norwegian Spirit #9697) was an inside cabin and was pretty standard. From a space standpoint, it was more than adequate for two people. The room was quiet and there was hardly any people traffic outside our door. It was clean and did not show any signs of wear. It was a good location for going to the shows (one floor down)or going to the buffet (three floors up).
In Bar Harbor we took the free shuttle bus to Jordon Pond where we sat outside and had tea and popovers for $20 (including tip). We then took the free shuttle bus around Acadia National Park and then back to the town where we walked around and did some shopping before heading back to the ship.It was a very inexpensive day in Bar Harbor. Since the ship was at anchor, we were tendered into port. The tendering process worked fine and there were no long waits in either direction.
In Saint John, New Brunswick we took two of the three self-guided historical walks in the old section of the city. We got the maps (with explanations of important points along the walks)from the Tourist Information office where, as an added treat, we watched the end of the Saint John marathon. The ship was docked close to the downtown area and it was an easy walk along the water to the center of the city.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia we rented a car from Budget Rental. The pick-up point at their office was about a fifteen minute walk from where the ship was docked. The total cost for the car for the day was about $90. We drove to Lunenburg which took an hour on the highway. We spent an hour walking around Lunenburg and then drove a short distance to Mahone Bay. We did not really stop in Mahone Bay but simply drove through. We got back on the highway and drove to Peggy's Cove where we spent a half hour taking in the scenery. From Peggy's Cove we drove the scenic route back to Halifax. We got back to the ship a good hour before we needed to.