Our background: DH and I have cruised 4 times previously, once on NCL. I have limited mobility, so some of my comments reflect that situation. We didn't have an HC cabin, as I can get around short distances, just not long ones.
We flew into Boston the day before embarkation and stayed at Embassy Suites, Logan Airport. Since all we wanted was a restaurant and a place to sleep, it was an excellent choice. The free breakfast buffet was a plus. The minute we stepped off the elevator the day of the cruise, we were asked if we wanted a taxi to Black Falcon, so they must get a lot of pre-cruise business.
Hoping for an early boarding, DH and I arrived at Black Falcon at 11:00 am. for our 7 day Canada / New England cruise going from Boston to Quebec. Dropping off our luggage was quick and easy, but then we had to join an unmoving line snaking around the entrance. At 11:30, NCL representatives came around explaining that the Coast Guard had arrived for a surprise security check. No one could be admitted until the Coast Guard released them. Around 12:15 they finally started embarkation. NCL did a good job of keeping us informed about the situation.
The Spirit is beautiful. Even knowing that cabins would be small, seeing their size for the first time was a shock. But our belongings fit in amazingly well, and we adjusted to the size quickly. We didn't see as much seating in public areas as we have come to expect, so I sometimes had a long (for me) walk.
Muster Drill was held on the Promenade Deck. Everyone had to stand in line wearing their life vests until it ended. For everyone, this was an uncomfortable change from Muster Drills held in lounges as we had always seen before.
Since our only Sea Day was Day 6 of our 7 day cruise, we had an informal Meet and Greet immediately after Muster. Much to our disappointment the captain turned down our CC petition requesting that he turn off some lights one night for better viewing of the Northern Lights that were predicted. Since it was cloudy for most of the cruise, we probably would not have been able to see much anyway, and the prematurely cold weather convinced us that we would have been miserable waiting for a display with no guarantee of seeing anything.
Thanks to posts from previous cruisers, we found more food to our liking than on our previous NCL cruise. The chilled fruit soups were delicious as were the crepes in Raffles where we ended up going most nights for dessert. Hamburgers at the Blue Lagoon were very good. One unexpected treat was the availability of Alaskan King Crab Claws for $15.95 at the Blue Lagoon, Shanghai Bar, and Henry's Pub. This was much cheaper than paying a $25 pp cover charge plus $10 to order them at Cagney's, yet they were just as good! The only drawback was the limited seating during peak hours.
We got excellent, courteous service throughout the ship except at Windows MDR. There, I finally saw what many posters complain about. Service was slow, and the servers were abrupt. Service was quicker in Cagney's than in the Garden Room, but that could be explained by the relatively small number of passengers to be served. Other than at Windows, the crew went out of their way to be helpful, and several knew us by name.
We didn't enjoy the shows as much as we've enjoyed them on previous cruises. The musicals seemed to be randomly patched together songs with no real connection unless it was the style of music. We didn't go to the comedy shows, but, from what we saw in the Freestyle Dailies and on the TV when they were broadcast later, they were not always family friendly.
We did the Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor. It was a pretty drive, but the photo stops were momentary pauses so photos could be made through the bus windows. We couldn't see anything but fog from Cadillac Mountain, so if you do this excursion, go in the afternoon after the fog burns off.
We chose to wonder around on our own in Halifax and Saint John. We got lobster at the Steamer across from the dock in Saint John. It was good, but according to locals, it would have been much cheaper at Billy's.
In Sydney the Heart of the Island excursion was enjoyable, but again photos were made through bus windows.
Our only real problem was due to my limited mobility. The ports of Sydney and La Baie had accordion ramps requiring passengers to walk about ¼ mile before reaching ground, then another1/4 mile returning to the ship. La Baie was worse because the ramp went downhill, then uphill, then downhill, etc. For a person with limited mobility, this was a real challenge. They had placed park style benches at the landings, but they were always occupied when we got to them. Since this was a new NCL itinerary, the Shore Excursion desk and the Special Services were not able to tell us in advance that I would be required to walk so far. We did the Saguenay By Land and Sea excursion, which was enjoyable until I had to walk an additional ¼ mile to get from the excursion boat to the bus which took us back to the ship. So even though we enjoyed seeing the Saguenay, the day in La Baie was not good.
In Quebec, we enjoyed the Caleche ride through Old Quebec. It was very informative and gave us a good view of the old parts of town without my having to do a lot of walking. Our room at the Manoir Victoria Hotel post cruise seemed palatial after a week on the Spirit. This hotel was also a good choice for us as we were close enough to be able to see Old Quebec, and I was able to enter without having to climb stairs. The St. James Pub in the hotel provided surprisingly good food.
Other than the problem with my having to walk long distances, we had a wonderful cruise! The Spirit is beautiful, and we felt pampered and spoiled. Once again, we saw why we love to cruise.
Across from crew space, but still quiet.