Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by birdie16
- Sail Date: December 2018
- Destination: Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
We stayed in a small hotel, Hotel Condel, in the El Gotic area before the cruise for one night. We figured we were going to be spending most of the time in bed so a clean, comfortable bed close to port was all we were looking to pay for, our hotel fit that request. We really enjoyed that location and were very grateful they were able to let us in our room the morning we arrived so we could get some much needed sleep. That evening we enjoyed the Ramblas and the narrow streets of El Gotic. Hearing about the pick pocket problems in Barcelona we took precautions but we never felt in danger.
The next morning we had a late breakfast at the hotel and the desk clerk arranged a cab for us. The port was just a short ride away, with tip I don't think we paid more than 20 Euro.
Boarding was a breeze, because we had cruised NCL before we went right through the line for returning guests and we were on the ship in no time at all. We were on the ship and in our cabin by noon.
The ship was in great shape, I had read on line that it was showing it's age but I never saw that. Our balcony cabin was a little smaller than usual, probably because it is an older ship. We never felt cramped, we had plenty of storage and we were very comfortable.
The ship was decorated beautifully for Christmas and as the cruise progressed more Christmas decor was added. We felt very festive! The only thing lacking was Christmas music, except for the last night when they put on a spectacular Christmas show! Something I love about NCL is the fish swimming upstream on the carpet, I always knew where forward was!
Aside from a few times we had to wait in line to dine...really a pet peeve of ours, we really enjoyed the Freestyle this time. Our cruise was very port intensive, in fact we were even in port for the last day (packing day) which was a first for us. Because we were so busy it was nice having the flexibility to dine when we wanted. We still think NCL needs to improve the whole waiting in line thing and I REALLY do not like having pagers on a ship. The way I think they could improve this is to offer reservations in the "free" dining venues for those that prefer not to wait in lines. The food was good, not great but good.
This cruise was much more casual than we are used to, which worked out better for us this time since we were going to be packing for over three weeks. We spent the week after the cruise in an apartment we rented after the cruise for Christmas with our son from New York City. Since the cruise was more casual my husband left his tux home. He brought a dark blue suit but in hindsight he could have left that at home too and saved room in our luggage. There were not very many men dressing up more than a shirt and tie or polo shirt for the entire cruise. I brought two cocktail dresses I never wore, we only dressed up once.
The entertainment on this ship was wonderful! There was plenty of variety in the theater and the venues around the ship. We have noticed other lines are starting to cut corners in the entertainment budget but did not feel NCL had done that at all.
Our first port was supposed to be Casablanca, Morocco but we were told as we boarded they were replacing it with Tangiers, Morocco. We were disappointed because Casablanca was one of the reasons we booked this cruise. After talking with people that have been to both ports we were very happy with the change. In Tangiers we booked a ship tour that took us to the ancient Medina (walled city) of Tetouan. It was well worth the trip!
Our second port was our favorite, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal. We took a ship tour that took us to a small fishing village, a Madeira Wine shop, tasted Madeira wine and the local drink, Poncha, visited another small village, drive through the countryside to see all the farmlands and we went to Cabo Girau and walked on the glass viewing platform high above the cliffs. A new addition to our "bucket list" is to spend New Years in Funchal!
Our third port was Santa Cruz, Tenerife and our fourth port Las Palmas, Canary Island, we were on our own and used the Hop on Hop off bus. I had read on line that this is a very good way to see these ports and we were not disappointed.
Our fifth port was Malaga, Spain. This is a very walkable city once you are in the city. It is a very long way into the city from the port. We purchased tickets on the "train" to get into town because this is what the visitor center person in the port suggested. It was only around 5 Euro each round trip so we thought, sure, why not? She pointed us in the direction of the train, we ended up walking all the way into town to find the "train" only to find out it was really just a little shuttle car pulling what looked like a toy train. So much for needing a ride into town! We enjoyed the park, visiting the Cathedral and walking around town. If it had been warm, there was a nice beach close to the ship.
Our last port was Alicante, Spain. This is a beautiful port with a very nice beach right by the port/ship. We rode the free shuttle into town and we headed straight to the Castell de Santa Barbara to stand in line and purchase the tickets to take the elevator up, well worth it. However, we were told by the elevator operator that you have to walk down...wrong! We ended up walking all the way around the mountain on the road down which was MILES and totally a waste of our time and energy. Buy the ticket and take the elevator DOWN as well. Bring your passport to prove you are 65 and you ride free. I guess we were getting tired because we also got a little lost trying to find our way back to the ship. Alicante is a great port for walking but walking you will do!
Over all it was a great cruise! We are looking forward to cruising this ship again on a different itinerary.
Our after cruise week in Barcelona was for Christmas. We had a wonderful time in Barcelona and this review is about the cruise so I will leave it there, except...to tell you about our apartment. We rented through Air BnB and the company that provided our apartment was Friendly Rentals. My advice...stay away from Friendly Rentals. The apartment and location in El Born were perfect but they were WORSE than bad to deal with. We were not the only ones to say this, we ran into several other customers of Friendly Rentals while we were in Barcelona and if you use them, I warned you.
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The bathroom had an interesting two room design which gave one privacy in the toilet if someone was using the shower or sink. There is a built in hairdryer that barely blows so I used my converter and the hairdryer I brought from home. There was plenty of room for toiletries in small racks on the wall and the shelf under the sink.
We had one of the best cabin stewards we have ever had, I know that is not part of the cabin but I am sure that is why the cabin was so comfortable.