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This was an 11 day cruise to the Canary Islands and Madeira out of Barcelona with other stops in Casablanca and Spain. We were a group of 5 family members over the age of 60. My wife and I have 26 cruises with this our 6th on NCL. Overall we really liked the ship and the itinerary. We splurged and bought a suite in the rear of the ship and greatly enjoyed the perks and added benefits. The destinations were very unique and interesting to visit. I write lengthy reviews so here goes: EMBARK – We stayed overnight in the Hilton Diagonal Mar in Barcelona and highly recommend it. Very nice modern hotel with shops and restaurants all over the area. A few kilometers from downtown though. We booked Sun Travel transfer from hotel to ship and it worked very well, probably same price as 2 taxis (65 Euros) but more convenient for our group. We arrived at pier at 11am and had smooth embarkation. As we were all in suites, we had a short line after security and had a lounge with snacks and drinks. After a few minutes wait we were escorted onto the ship, bypassing any lines, and taken direct to Cagney’s restaurant for lunch. Cagney’s was the suite’s location for breakfast and lunch the entire cruise and offered good food and plenty of seats. After lunch we went to our suite which was already available. CABIN – We always get balcony cabins, occasionally a minisuite. But the NCL Spirit does not have minisuites. Instead they offer full suites but at a very affordable price compared to other ships. For the price we also got the unlimited beverage plan, 4 nights specialty dining, 250 mins internet, and $50 refund per cabin for each NCL shore excursion we took. Adding the perks made the suite VERY affordable. That’s probably why they book up in advance! We were in suite 9212, the Gemini Suite, smack in the back end so faced wherever we had been. Suite was awesome – 2 rooms, one a combined dining room/living room with a small kitchenette. Other the bedroom with a huge king bed, extremely comfortable, and a big bathroom with double sinks, toilet, shower, and a Jacuzzi tub which looked over the back end and was fun to sit in as we sailed away. Our room steward was awesome and would complete any request immediately. The butler was more awesome! He brought any food we asked for, setting the table completely before serving (even breakfast at 7am). He also brought snacks every day. We came back from every excursion with sandwiches and extras in the cabin, cool! By the way, suites offer full room service breakfast as well as other room service for free. Other suite perks inc bkfst/lunch in Cagney’s, reserved balcony seating for shows, special cocktail party, and best of all a concierge. Our concierge was awesomest of all (lol)! She made all of our specialty dining reservations, fixed any booking problems, offered advice, and constantly asked if we needed anything. She resolved a problem with my brother’s suite perks (he forgot to pick them in advance) and got him a new room card with drink and dining plans listed. Also set up a birthday party for us. WARNING! However all was not paradise… We read in reviews the aft cabins were noisy at high speed due to engine vibrations. We underestimated how bad this could be. Ear plugs helped but at ship speeds over 18 kts, with 21 kts the max, the cabin would shake and we had a lot of vibration. The closet doors, tv cabinet, even glasses in the kitchenette would rattle. This was bad on long runs and got worse in the Atlantic where the seas were rougher. Nights 1,2, 8, 9, and 10 of our 11 nights were pretty bad. Other nights we were at slower speeds and it was fine. Bottom line is pick a cabin or suite in the front or middle for a quieter nights sleep. The others in our group had suites on deck 10 forward that were fine. SHIP – Spirit is 20 years old and small which was great for our destinations. We docked every stop even at small piers. Ship was well cared for and seemed in good shape. Main pool was nice size and had plenty of chairs. Kids pool area in the back looked fine for younger kids although we only had a handful of kids on this cruise. The crew was very friendly and helpful throughout the ship. We didn’t do much ship entertainment as this cruise was all about the cool destinations. We did catch a few shows at night and they were okay, about what you’d expect from a small ship. FOOD/BARS – We purchased 3 nts specialty dining to go with the 4 nts free dining. As there are only 4 spec restaurants we repeated a bunch. Cagney’s steakhouse was very good, as was Le Bistro French restaurant. Japanese steakhouse Teppanyaki was a lot of fun with chef & dancing knives, also good food. La Trattoria Italian was okay but not our favorite. We prefer NCL’s buffets over their main dining room so ate dinner there our other 4 nts. They have a dining theme each night and always have a carving station. At dinner it was rarely crowded. We had a few crowded lunches right after departing ports but there are lots of extra tables in the aft outside area. If you are in a suite, Cagney’s offers bkfst and lunch but times are limited so it wasn’t always open when we needed. Spirit does not have a lot of bars/lounges so they can be crowded in evenings. But service is very good, plenty of waiters, and all are helpful. With the included ultimate drink package, we never were given a bill so no extra tipping. You can get drinks up to $15 for free, over that you pay the difference. We never exceeded $15 as cocktails and beer were less, as were glasses of wine. FITNESS – My wife and I like to walk a lot on cruises. The jogging track on deck 12 is okay but small, 6 laps to mile, also can be crowded. So we walked on deck 7 promenade which was more open and 3 laps per mile but walking only. I went to the fitness center several times. It’s medium size, actually larger than I expected for a small ship. Was absolutely packed the first sea day morning but thinned out afterwards. We didn’t use any spa services. INTERNET – We used the 250 min free internet perk. The internet was okay but kinda slow in our aft cabin. I’m not a fan of NCL internet packages as the unlimited package is expensive as compared to Royal Caribbean, for example. If you like to download videos or use high bandwidth sites (VPN) you’ll probably need to buy the expensive packages. PORTS – Casablanca, Morocco was our first stop and the only one that was outside the EU, others all took Euros. We booked a private all-day tour with Under the Moroccan Sun which was highly recommended by Trip Advisor. The NCL excursions were all in motor coaches and we wanted a smaller tour. The tour was very good, we were pleased with our guide and driver. Only hitch is if you use a private tour, you have to depart the security area to where the non-NCL tours are parked. Our tour went to the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, very impressive and photogenic. Then we drove 1 hr to Rabat for the rest of our tour. Casablanca looked to be somewhat dirty and very crowded whereas Rabat was much nicer. There we went to the Royal Palace and several tombs and monuments. Then we drove down the coast back to Casablanca viewing the beaches of Morocco. Our guide took us to a Moroccan lunch which was good – they took credit cards or US dollars or Euros. The next 3 stops were in the Canary Islands – Lanzarote, Grand Canary, and Tenerife. The Canaries are fairly dry islands with a lot of volcanoes. Lanzarote had little vegetation where we visited but we did get to do a 15 min camel ride which was fine. Grand Canary was more lush but still dry, little rainfall there. Canaries big draw is their nice climate and beaches – but we live in Florida so weren’t that impressed. Tenerife was neatest, very green. Had a large dormant volcano in center, Mt Teide, which features a cable car to the top which we took. Great views but dress warmly as it’s cool & windy on top. Madeira was our favorite stop in the Atlantic. Very hilly drive to the top around Funchal which had great views. Then we took a cable car over the city down to the port area, great photos. Although volcanic origin, it’s older than Canaries so more tropical, almost Hawaiian except not as warm. Malaga was our next stop, it’s in Spain after you return to the Med. We booked an all-day tour to Gibraltar which was our overall favorite tour of the cruise. Motorcoach drove 2 hrs each way but it was worth it. Rock of Gibraltar was very impressive and picture worthy. You have to go thru a checkpoint and show your passport to British guards, also do it again on leaving to the Spanish guards. Once in the tiny area of Gibraltar it feels like you are in Britain. We switched to mini-busses as the roads, especially those up the mountain, are very narrow. We visited St Michael’s Cave and saw the Gibraltar apes, they are friendly and easy to get photos with. Alicante was our final stop and it was okay. By that time we were sorta done on tours so this seemed like our least interesting place. We visited a large church and a vineyard. Could have just walked around port instead. DEBARKATION – As we were not in a rush, we left the ship at 9am when the last departures were called. No immigration or customs so we walked to our luggage and then to the taxis. Line for the taxis but it went fast. We took the high speed train to Madrid and stayed there a few days before taking a direct flight to Atlanta.

Great destinations

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by HACKT

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony
This was an 11 day cruise to the Canary Islands and Madeira out of Barcelona with other stops in Casablanca and Spain. We were a group of 5 family members over the age of 60. My wife and I have 26 cruises with this our 6th on NCL. Overall we really liked the ship and the itinerary. We splurged and bought a suite in the rear of the ship and greatly enjoyed the perks and added benefits. The destinations were very unique and interesting to visit. I write lengthy reviews so here goes:

EMBARK – We stayed overnight in the Hilton Diagonal Mar in Barcelona and highly recommend it. Very nice modern hotel with shops and restaurants all over the area. A few kilometers from downtown though. We booked Sun Travel transfer from hotel to ship and it worked very well, probably same price as 2 taxis (65 Euros) but more convenient for our group. We arrived at pier at 11am and had smooth embarkation. As we were all in suites, we had a short line after security and had a lounge with snacks and drinks. After a few minutes wait we were escorted onto the ship, bypassing any lines, and taken direct to Cagney’s restaurant for lunch. Cagney’s was the suite’s location for breakfast and lunch the entire cruise and offered good food and plenty of seats. After lunch we went to our suite which was already available.

CABIN – We always get balcony cabins, occasionally a minisuite. But the NCL Spirit does not have minisuites. Instead they offer full suites but at a very affordable price compared to other ships. For the price we also got the unlimited beverage plan, 4 nights specialty dining, 250 mins internet, and $50 refund per cabin for each NCL shore excursion we took. Adding the perks made the suite VERY affordable. That’s probably why they book up in advance!

We were in suite 9212, the Gemini Suite, smack in the back end so faced wherever we had been. Suite was awesome – 2 rooms, one a combined dining room/living room with a small kitchenette. Other the bedroom with a huge king bed, extremely comfortable, and a big bathroom with double sinks, toilet, shower, and a Jacuzzi tub which looked over the back end and was fun to sit in as we sailed away. Our room steward was awesome and would complete any request immediately. The butler was more awesome! He brought any food we asked for, setting the table completely before serving (even breakfast at 7am). He also brought snacks every day. We came back from every excursion with sandwiches and extras in the cabin, cool! By the way, suites offer full room service breakfast as well as other room service for free.

Other suite perks inc bkfst/lunch in Cagney’s, reserved balcony seating for shows, special cocktail party, and best of all a concierge. Our concierge was awesomest of all (lol)! She made all of our specialty dining reservations, fixed any booking problems, offered advice, and constantly asked if we needed anything. She resolved a problem with my brother’s suite perks (he forgot to pick them in advance) and got him a new room card with drink and dining plans listed. Also set up a birthday party for us.

WARNING! However all was not paradise… We read in reviews the aft cabins were noisy at high speed due to engine vibrations. We underestimated how bad this could be. Ear plugs helped but at ship speeds over 18 kts, with 21 kts the max, the cabin would shake and we had a lot of vibration. The closet doors, tv cabinet, even glasses in the kitchenette would rattle. This was bad on long runs and got worse in the Atlantic where the seas were rougher. Nights 1,2, 8, 9, and 10 of our 11 nights were pretty bad. Other nights we were at slower speeds and it was fine. Bottom line is pick a cabin or suite in the front or middle for a quieter nights sleep. The others in our group had suites on deck 10 forward that were fine.

SHIP – Spirit is 20 years old and small which was great for our destinations. We docked every stop even at small piers. Ship was well cared for and seemed in good shape. Main pool was nice size and had plenty of chairs. Kids pool area in the back looked fine for younger kids although we only had a handful of kids on this cruise. The crew was very friendly and helpful throughout the ship. We didn’t do much ship entertainment as this cruise was all about the cool destinations. We did catch a few shows at night and they were okay, about what you’d expect from a small ship.

FOOD/BARS – We purchased 3 nts specialty dining to go with the 4 nts free dining. As there are only 4 spec restaurants we repeated a bunch. Cagney’s steakhouse was very good, as was Le Bistro French restaurant. Japanese steakhouse Teppanyaki was a lot of fun with chef & dancing knives, also good food. La Trattoria Italian was okay but not our favorite.

We prefer NCL’s buffets over their main dining room so ate dinner there our other 4 nts. They have a dining theme each night and always have a carving station. At dinner it was rarely crowded. We had a few crowded lunches right after departing ports but there are lots of extra tables in the aft outside area. If you are in a suite, Cagney’s offers bkfst and lunch but times are limited so it wasn’t always open when we needed.

Spirit does not have a lot of bars/lounges so they can be crowded in evenings. But service is very good, plenty of waiters, and all are helpful. With the included ultimate drink package, we never were given a bill so no extra tipping. You can get drinks up to $15 for free, over that you pay the difference. We never exceeded $15 as cocktails and beer were less, as were glasses of wine.


FITNESS – My wife and I like to walk a lot on cruises. The jogging track on deck 12 is okay but small, 6 laps to mile, also can be crowded. So we walked on deck 7 promenade which was more open and 3 laps per mile but walking only. I went to the fitness center several times. It’s medium size, actually larger than I expected for a small ship. Was absolutely packed the first sea day morning but thinned out afterwards. We didn’t use any spa services.

INTERNET – We used the 250 min free internet perk. The internet was okay but kinda slow in our aft cabin. I’m not a fan of NCL internet packages as the unlimited package is expensive as compared to Royal Caribbean, for example. If you like to download videos or use high bandwidth sites (VPN) you’ll probably need to buy the expensive packages.

PORTS –

Casablanca, Morocco was our first stop and the only one that was outside the EU, others all took Euros. We booked a private all-day tour with Under the Moroccan Sun which was highly recommended by Trip Advisor. The NCL excursions were all in motor coaches and we wanted a smaller tour. The tour was very good, we were pleased with our guide and driver. Only hitch is if you use a private tour, you have to depart the security area to where the non-NCL tours are parked. Our tour went to the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, very impressive and photogenic. Then we drove 1 hr to Rabat for the rest of our tour. Casablanca looked to be somewhat dirty and very crowded whereas Rabat was much nicer. There we went to the Royal Palace and several tombs and monuments. Then we drove down the coast back to Casablanca viewing the beaches of Morocco. Our guide took us to a Moroccan lunch which was good – they took credit cards or US dollars or Euros.

The next 3 stops were in the Canary Islands – Lanzarote, Grand Canary, and Tenerife. The Canaries are fairly dry islands with a lot of volcanoes. Lanzarote had little vegetation where we visited but we did get to do a 15 min camel ride which was fine. Grand Canary was more lush but still dry, little rainfall there. Canaries big draw is their nice climate and beaches – but we live in Florida so weren’t that impressed. Tenerife was neatest, very green. Had a large dormant volcano in center, Mt Teide, which features a cable car to the top which we took. Great views but dress warmly as it’s cool & windy on top.

Madeira was our favorite stop in the Atlantic. Very hilly drive to the top around Funchal which had great views. Then we took a cable car over the city down to the port area, great photos. Although volcanic origin, it’s older than Canaries so more tropical, almost Hawaiian except not as warm.

Malaga was our next stop, it’s in Spain after you return to the Med. We booked an all-day tour to Gibraltar which was our overall favorite tour of the cruise. Motorcoach drove 2 hrs each way but it was worth it. Rock of Gibraltar was very impressive and picture worthy. You have to go thru a checkpoint and show your passport to British guards, also do it again on leaving to the Spanish guards. Once in the tiny area of Gibraltar it feels like you are in Britain. We switched to mini-busses as the roads, especially those up the mountain, are very narrow. We visited St Michael’s Cave and saw the Gibraltar apes, they are friendly and easy to get photos with.

Alicante was our final stop and it was okay. By that time we were sorta done on tours so this seemed like our least interesting place. We visited a large church and a vineyard. Could have just walked around port instead.

DEBARKATION – As we were not in a rush, we left the ship at 9am when the last departures were called. No immigration or customs so we walked to our luggage and then to the taxis. Line for the taxis but it went fast. We took the high speed train to Madrid and stayed there a few days before taking a direct flight to Atlanta.
HACKT’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony
Cabin SG 9212
We always get balcony cabins, occasionally a minisuite. But the NCL Spirit does not have minisuites. Instead they offer full suites but at a very affordable price compared to other ships. For the price we also got the unlimited beverage plan, 4 nights specialty dining, 250 mins internet, and $50 refund per cabin for each NCL shore excursion we took. Adding the perks made the suite VERY affordable. That’s probably why they book up in advance!
We were in suite 9212, the Gemini Suite, smack in the back end so faced wherever we had been. Suite was awesome – 2 rooms, one a combined dining room/living room with a small kitchenette. Other the bedroom with a huge king bed, extremely comfortable, and a big bathroom with double sinks, toilet, shower, and a Jacuzzi tub which looked over the back end and was fun to sit in as we sailed away. Our room steward was awesome and would complete any request immediately. The butler was more awesome! He brought any food we asked for, setting the table completely before serving (even breakfast at 7am). He also brought snacks every day. We came back from every excursion with sandwiches and extras in the cabin, cool! By the way, suites offer full room service breakfast as well as other room service for free.
Other suite perks inc bkfst/lunch in Cagney’s, reserved balcony seating for shows, special cocktail party, and best of all a concierge. Our concierge was awesomest of all (lol)! She made all of our specialty dining reservations, fixed any booking problems, offered advice, and constantly asked if we needed anything. She resolved a problem with my brother’s suite perks (he forgot to pick them in advance) and got him a new room card with drink and dining plans listed. Also set up a birthday party for us.
WARNING! However all was not paradise… We read in reviews the aft cabins were noisy at high speed due to engine vibrations. We underestimated how bad this could be. Ear plugs helped but at ship speeds over 18 kts, with 21 kts the max, the cabin would shake and we had a lot of vibration. The closet doors, tv cabinet, even glasses in the kitchenette would rattle. This was bad on long runs and got worse in the Atlantic where the seas were rougher. Nights 1,2, 8, 9, and 10 of our 11 nights were pretty bad. Other nights we were at slower speeds and it was fine. Bottom line is pick a cabin or suite in the front or middle for a quieter nights sleep. The others in our group had suites on deck 10 forward that were fine.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Casablanca
    Casablanca, Morocco was our first stop and the only one that was outside the EU, others all took Euros. We booked a private all-day tour with Under the Moroccan Sun which was highly recommended by Trip Advisor. The NCL excursions were all in motor coaches and we wanted a smaller tour. The tour was very good, we were pleased with our guide and driver. Only hitch is if you use a private tour, you have to depart the security area to where the non-NCL tours are parked. Our tour went to the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, very impressive and photogenic. Then we drove 1 hr to Rabat for the rest of our tour. Casablanca looked to be somewhat dirty and very crowded whereas Rabat was much nicer. There we went to the Royal Palace and several tombs and monuments. Then we drove down the coast back to Casablanca viewing the beaches of Morocco. Our guide took us to a Moroccan lunch which was good – they took credit cards or US dollars or Euros.
    View All 57 Casablanca Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Casablanca Cruise Port Review