We have been on 5 NCL cruises, The Star, The Epic, and The Spirit. The Star, Epic, and the first of 3 on The Spirit were all great, but the last 2 on The Spirit have not been a good experience for us.
Last year 3 major ports were cancelled because of the weather, and I appreciate that this was just one of those things that could not have been avoided. Our main problem was that we had loud hammering and drilling noise in our stateroom from maintenance work on the deck above. This was every day of the cruise, and apparently there was no other stateroom to move us to. Then we had the problem with Spanish VAT. We had prepaid for a beverage package, as we had done the previous year, with no problems. This second cruise on Spirit was different, we were told that we had to pay VAT while in Spanish waters, even though we had prepaid. On returning home, we found out that we should not have been charged, and it was refunded.
Now onto this years cruise on The Spirit. First of all, we had a gastrointestinal virus on the ship, which was discovered during the first port of call. Obviously measures had to be put in place to avoid it spreading, but we feel that more could have been done to make passengers enjoyment of the cruise better.
A lot of meals had to be taken in the buffet, and because of cross infection, we were not allowed to serve ourselves. All of the food areas were cordoned off to allow staff to serve us. This meant that there was a lot of congestion, and long queues because there didn’t appear to be enough staff to serve. On top of this,I was informed that a lot of staff had to be taken from non public areas, which resulted in communication issues. Plus, if you wanted food from another area of the buffet, it was necessary to join another queue, by which time the food already on your plate was cold. The dining rooms were not open for lunch on port days, but we feel that they could have opened one of them to alleviate the problem.
Apart from what I have already mentioned, we found the food in general to be not as good as before.
On our first cruise on The Spirit we had a particular brand of gin before dinner. On the second cruise, we were told that this gin was not on the drinks package as it had been increased to $16.95, and you could only have drinks up to $15 on the package without paying more. Imagine our surprise, when this year, that particular gin had been increased to a staggering $19.95.
Now onto the Lattitudes party for returning passengers. We used to receive a personalised invitation card in an envelope, now just a non personalised piece of paper under your stateroom door. No prize draw, and on this occasion no canapés. We were told that this was because of the virus on board, but to be honest, a waiter using tongs to put a canapé on your plate, would have been no different to food being served in the buffet or dining rooms.
Some dishes that were on the menu, both in the dining room and the speciality restaurants were unavailable when we visited.. Also, the lunch menu in the dining room while at sea, seemed to be basically the same every day, but on previous cruises the menu alternated.
Summing up, we feel it unlikely that we would book another cruise.