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Looking for something fun and stress-free as a way to celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife and I booked a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit over the holidays. The itinerary had us leaving Civitavecchia (port near Rome) on the 22nd, spending Christmas Eve - Christmas Day in Venice, seeing Croatia, Montenegro, Florence/Pisa, and Monte Carlo before stopping in Barcelona for New Year's Eve, then returning to Civitavecchia on January 2nd. Because it was a good deal, we purchased the reduced airfare through the cruise line. BIG MISTAKE. Travel to / Embarkation: Delta / Al Italia Departure Flights December 21: - Arrive at LAX, was able to check into Delta flight and check luggage through to Rome, but NOT able to check in for Al Italia flight - Flight from LAX was in Terminal 2, had to check in at Terminal 3, then go back to Terminal 2 - Arrive in New York (JFK) with 1.5 hours to connect - but had to CHECK IN with Al Italia in Terminal 2 - Take shuttle from arrival terminal (4) to Terminal 1, EXIT THE AIRPORT, run to Terminal 2, find Al Italia counter, try to check in - Two of the four of us were checked in for flight to Rome, originally told the other two would not be able to get on the flight (even though our luggage was checked through to Rome?) - After pleading, attendant takes back tickets she’d given to a standby customer and puts us on flight, all separated from each other (not ideal, but ok) - Second attendant rushes us through security, but stopped at screening due to water in daughter’s Hydroflask (She hadn’t realized we’d be going through security a second time, we had to surrender the $40 Hydroflask - enjoy TSA) - Finally get on flight, ten minutes later 13 year old daughter escorted off plane WITHOUT TALKING TO EITHER PARENT. Daughter in tears, afraid she’ll be left in New York by herself. Dad (me) irate. Eventually my daughter was given a seat and the flight departed. December 22: -Arrive in Rome: (Of course) one bag wasn’t transferred, 16 year old daughter left without clothes for what was thought would be two days (bag would catch up to us in Venice, scheduled to arrive there on December 24th) - Arrive at Cruise Terminal, ask to have rooms adjusted (when booked, given two staterooms with one adult in each, even though NCL POLICY stated kids could be by themselves if in ADJOINING stateroom, which we booked) - staff was unable to do so, we were told it had to be done on the ship. - Board ship, go straight to Guest Services. HUGE line of people, apparently a lot of people with issues. - Go to get a couple of beers to enjoy while waiting in line (much needed after the horrible flight/luggage experience). Get a bill (Premium Beverage Package was one of the Perks included in our package). - After 30+ minutes, get to the counter. Representative can’t change rooms, either. Offers to give extra door keys (this was the best they could do). - Representative can’t find any evidence of our perks. - NCL App had LITERALLY showed the perks two days prior, but changed for some reason after we boarded. - Had to fill out multiple forms too have our daughter’s luggage allowed onboard in Venice, including one form twice (?). *Keep in mind we’re dealing with this after 24 hours of travel.* - Representative said she would email their corporate office to see about our perks, but was unable to offer anything else. - Go to room and pay international charges so I can call NCL Customer Service in the U.S. directly. Do so, they assist promptly. December 23: - Go downstairs to verify perks are now showing on my account. At 8 a.m. the line is already forming at Guest Services. Woman behind me is talking to her husband about how she found the email that shows their perks. Must be a common issue. - Get to the counter, finally perks are reflected in our accounts, new cards issued (still in separate rooms). - Decided to get a cup of coffee, found out the $99/day Premium Drink Package doesn’t include coffee from the coffee bar. - Also found out bottled water was NOT included in our Drink Packages either. (Purchase 6 liters for $19.99) - Then found out weather delayed our arrival in Venice until the 25th. (Not the ship’s fault, but daughter would be without her clothes for a third day. (A third day of borrowing clothes from her sister)) Onboard experiences: - Balcony stateroom was very small. Two twin cot-like beds pushed together, a small table as a vanity, a tiny cushioned chair. Balcony was barely deep enough for the chairs. - Specialty dining was OK, certainly not worth any extra $, especially not the Italian restaurant. - Buffet was mediocre at BEST, though the made to order omelets at breakfast were pretty good. I swear they were serving frozen pizza. - Buffet during off-hours was hit or miss at best. - Coffee at buffet was the basic large vat of cafeteria coffee. - Specialty Dining fills up quickly, but we tried three: La Trattoria: Not worth it. Didn't care for the Somelier, either. Cagney's: decent, good steak. Teppanyaki's: Great. Lots of fun, great chef, good food. - Children were EVERYWHERE. - Quiet places to enjoy a drink were non-existent. The main bar/lounge was used for family fun (bingo, dancing lessons, kids vs. adults challenges, etc.). Never less than a half dozen strollers in the bar. - Other bar (Champagne Charlies) was ok, pretty good three person musical group, but small. - Henry’s Pub (mostly beer) was a great hangout spot, but very small. - Shanghai Bar was even smaller, and being situated next to the equally tiny Blue Lagoon 24 hour eatery, seating in the bar was typically in use by people eating. - Only real option for enjoying a quiet glass of wine was in your room - as long as you don’t mind the sound of children running up and down the hallways. Service: Average. Stateroom attendant was very nice and very professional. Also encountered a nice waitress in the main lounge. Service in main dining rooms (Windows or Garden) was very good. Most of the other service attendants were a toss up: some nice, some indifferent, some treating you like you're an inconvenience. Guest services....average at best. First night experience was enough to make me wish we'd chosen differently. Also a bit off-putting when you're competing for seating with the staff. The buffet area was already crowded. Add in workers eating their meals and it gets even more frustrating. Imagine seeing some of the best seating in the main lounge being occupied by ship's staff. Entertainment was good. Enjoyed the Elements and World Beat show. Juggler was probably my favorite (sounds crazy, but he was hilarious). The quartet of singers was also very good. Ports/Shore excursions: The ports saved the cruise. Best, most enjoyable time was when we were off the ship. Venice (Christmas Day) - great city, but still flooded. Very surreal. Very walkable, and since I'd been there previously, we didn't take a shore excursion. Did a gondola ride, a bit expensive but memorable, just COLD. Dubrovnik, Croatia - took the ship-arranged ($15pp) shuttle into town, walked the city walls. Amazing. Inside the city walls was magical, though the wind seems to gain intensity traveling through the small alleyways and blasts you with cold air. Spiced wine helped. Kotor, Montenegro - Ferry drops you off near the small town. Walked through town (on our own) to entrance to steps (1300+) that lead to the fort at the top of the mountain. Guy at the top sells soda, water, and, more importantly, beer. Amazing views from the top. Small town inside the walls was very cool. Cats are EVERYWHERE and very friendly. Livorno (Port City) - we took the Florence/Pisa shore excursion. Pisa was a fun, quick stop, the highlight being, of course, the Tower. Florence was amazing. So much history, so much significance. We will definitely return, preferably when its warmer. Monaco - we took the Nice and Little Train tour, it was okay. Parts of what the tour guide covered were also covered during the Little Train tour, would be good to remove the duplicity in the interest of time. Upon return to Monte Carlo, we had time to see the Christmas village area near the port. Really, really cool. Had Nutella crepes, then the adults enjoyed spiced wine while the kids had hot chocolate. **Return Ferry boarding process was a cluster**** Arriving one hour before the last ferry was scheduled to depart, we spent that hour on the pier waiting. Pretty sure the ship departed about an hour and a half late. Barcelona (New Year's Eve) - Our second time there, so we ventured out on our own. Went to Barcelona Cathedral, very impressive. Spent lots of time on La Rambla. Definitely feels like the center of the city in a good way. La Boqueria Market (Mercado de Boqueria) is a must-visit. So much good food, it'd be easy to pig out, walk around, then pig out again. We determined the New Year's Eve celebration was at Placa Espanaya. Party there was INCREDIBLE. Finished up and ended up walking about two miles back to the ship (catching a cab in the middle of crowd that size was both difficult and impractical), made it back with about twenty minutes to spare. Disembarkation / Return Travel: January 2nd: - Because a port was removed from the itinerary AFTER the flights had been booked, we were given a night’s stay at a hotel in Rome (pretty decent trade off, but Mallorca would have been fun). - We would be transported to the hotel instead of the airport, like our vouchers said. - Asked if transportation to airport was included, was told it was not - 25 buses deliver hundreds of people to the hotel and dump us there. Inside is pandemonium. A few NCL employees were trying to answer the questions of hundreds of people. - Finally found out we’d have to check in sometime after 3, so we stashed our luggage and headed out for sightseeing. - Came back about five, got our room keys. Find out NCL actually DID set up transportation to the airport. - Go to get luggage. NOT THERE. - Hotel attendant tells me they took it to our room. Go to the room. Not there. - Go back down, find out they may have taken it to another person’s room with the same last name…. - Follow the worker to the other room, there’s our luggage. - In the morning, driver was there early and with a van, ready to go. Ride to the airport was the easiest part of travel to that point. (Finally something was easy!) - No issues with return flight.

Enjoyed the Ports IN SPITE of the Norwegian Cruise Line experience

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by davearellano619

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Looking for something fun and stress-free as a way to celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife and I booked a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit over the holidays. The itinerary had us leaving Civitavecchia (port near Rome) on the 22nd, spending Christmas Eve - Christmas Day in Venice, seeing Croatia, Montenegro, Florence/Pisa, and Monte Carlo before stopping in Barcelona for New Year's Eve, then returning to Civitavecchia on January 2nd.

Because it was a good deal, we purchased the reduced airfare through the cruise line. BIG MISTAKE.

Travel to / Embarkation:

Delta / Al Italia Departure Flights

December 21:

- Arrive at LAX, was able to check into Delta flight and check luggage through to Rome, but NOT able to check in for Al Italia flight

- Flight from LAX was in Terminal 2, had to check in at Terminal 3, then go back to Terminal 2

- Arrive in New York (JFK) with 1.5 hours to connect - but had to CHECK IN with Al Italia in Terminal 2

- Take shuttle from arrival terminal (4) to Terminal 1, EXIT THE AIRPORT, run to Terminal 2, find Al Italia counter, try to check in

- Two of the four of us were checked in for flight to Rome, originally told the other two would not be able to get on the flight (even though our luggage was checked through to Rome?)

- After pleading, attendant takes back tickets she’d given to a standby customer and puts us on flight, all separated from each other (not ideal, but ok)

- Second attendant rushes us through security, but stopped at screening due to water in daughter’s Hydroflask (She hadn’t realized we’d be going through security a second time, we had to surrender the $40 Hydroflask - enjoy TSA)

- Finally get on flight, ten minutes later 13 year old daughter escorted off plane WITHOUT TALKING TO EITHER PARENT. Daughter in tears, afraid she’ll be left in New York by herself. Dad (me) irate. Eventually my daughter was given a seat and the flight departed.

December 22:

-Arrive in Rome: (Of course) one bag wasn’t transferred, 16 year old daughter left without clothes for what was thought would be two days (bag would catch up to us in Venice, scheduled to arrive there on December 24th)

- Arrive at Cruise Terminal, ask to have rooms adjusted (when booked, given two staterooms with one adult in each, even though NCL POLICY stated kids could be by themselves if in ADJOINING stateroom, which we booked) - staff was unable to do so, we were told it had to be done on the ship.

- Board ship, go straight to Guest Services. HUGE line of people, apparently a lot of people with issues.

- Go to get a couple of beers to enjoy while waiting in line (much needed after the horrible flight/luggage experience). Get a bill (Premium Beverage Package was one of the Perks included in our package).

- After 30+ minutes, get to the counter. Representative can’t change rooms, either. Offers to give extra door keys (this was the best they could do).

- Representative can’t find any evidence of our perks.

- NCL App had LITERALLY showed the perks two days prior, but changed for some reason after we boarded.

- Had to fill out multiple forms too have our daughter’s luggage allowed onboard in Venice, including one form twice (?).

*Keep in mind we’re dealing with this after 24 hours of travel.*

- Representative said she would email their corporate office to see about our perks, but was unable to offer anything else.

- Go to room and pay international charges so I can call NCL Customer Service in the U.S. directly. Do so, they assist promptly.

December 23:

- Go downstairs to verify perks are now showing on my account. At 8 a.m. the line is already forming at Guest Services. Woman behind me is talking to her husband about how she found the email that shows their perks. Must be a common issue.

- Get to the counter, finally perks are reflected in our accounts, new cards issued (still in separate rooms).

- Decided to get a cup of coffee, found out the $99/day Premium Drink Package doesn’t include coffee from the coffee bar.

- Also found out bottled water was NOT included in our Drink Packages either. (Purchase 6 liters for $19.99)

- Then found out weather delayed our arrival in Venice until the 25th. (Not the ship’s fault, but daughter would be without her clothes for a third day. (A third day of borrowing clothes from her sister))

Onboard experiences:

- Balcony stateroom was very small. Two twin cot-like beds pushed together, a small table as a vanity, a tiny cushioned chair. Balcony was barely deep enough for the chairs.

- Specialty dining was OK, certainly not worth any extra $, especially not the Italian restaurant.

- Buffet was mediocre at BEST, though the made to order omelets at breakfast were pretty good. I swear they were serving frozen pizza.

- Buffet during off-hours was hit or miss at best.

- Coffee at buffet was the basic large vat of cafeteria coffee.

- Specialty Dining fills up quickly, but we tried three:

La Trattoria: Not worth it. Didn't care for the Somelier, either.

Cagney's: decent, good steak.

Teppanyaki's: Great. Lots of fun, great chef, good food.

- Children were EVERYWHERE.

- Quiet places to enjoy a drink were non-existent. The main bar/lounge was used for family fun (bingo, dancing lessons, kids vs. adults challenges, etc.). Never less than a half dozen strollers in the bar.

- Other bar (Champagne Charlies) was ok, pretty good three person musical group, but small.

- Henry’s Pub (mostly beer) was a great hangout spot, but very small.

- Shanghai Bar was even smaller, and being situated next to the equally tiny Blue Lagoon 24 hour eatery, seating in the bar was typically in use by people eating.

- Only real option for enjoying a quiet glass of wine was in your room - as long as you don’t mind the sound of children running up and down the hallways.

Service:

Average. Stateroom attendant was very nice and very professional.

Also encountered a nice waitress in the main lounge.

Service in main dining rooms (Windows or Garden) was very good.

Most of the other service attendants were a toss up: some nice, some indifferent, some treating you like you're an inconvenience.

Guest services....average at best. First night experience was enough to make me wish we'd chosen differently.

Also a bit off-putting when you're competing for seating with the staff. The buffet area was already crowded. Add in workers eating their meals and it gets even more frustrating.

Imagine seeing some of the best seating in the main lounge being occupied by ship's staff.

Entertainment was good. Enjoyed the Elements and World Beat show. Juggler was probably my favorite (sounds crazy, but he was hilarious). The quartet of singers was also very good.

Ports/Shore excursions:

The ports saved the cruise. Best, most enjoyable time was when we were off the ship.

Venice (Christmas Day) - great city, but still flooded. Very surreal. Very walkable, and since I'd been there previously, we didn't take a shore excursion. Did a gondola ride, a bit expensive but memorable, just COLD.

Dubrovnik, Croatia - took the ship-arranged ($15pp) shuttle into town, walked the city walls. Amazing. Inside the city walls was magical, though the wind seems to gain intensity traveling through the small alleyways and blasts you with cold air. Spiced wine helped.

Kotor, Montenegro - Ferry drops you off near the small town. Walked through town (on our own) to entrance to steps (1300+) that lead to the fort at the top of the mountain. Guy at the top sells soda, water, and, more importantly, beer. Amazing views from the top. Small town inside the walls was very cool. Cats are EVERYWHERE and very friendly.

Livorno (Port City) - we took the Florence/Pisa shore excursion. Pisa was a fun, quick stop, the highlight being, of course, the Tower. Florence was amazing. So much history, so much significance. We will definitely return, preferably when its warmer.

Monaco - we took the Nice and Little Train tour, it was okay. Parts of what the tour guide covered were also covered during the Little Train tour, would be good to remove the duplicity in the interest of time. Upon return to Monte Carlo, we had time to see the Christmas village area near the port. Really, really cool. Had Nutella crepes, then the adults enjoyed spiced wine while the kids had hot chocolate.

**Return Ferry boarding process was a cluster**** Arriving one hour before the last ferry was scheduled to depart, we spent that hour on the pier waiting. Pretty sure the ship departed about an hour and a half late.

Barcelona (New Year's Eve) - Our second time there, so we ventured out on our own. Went to Barcelona Cathedral, very impressive. Spent lots of time on La Rambla. Definitely feels like the center of the city in a good way. La Boqueria Market (Mercado de Boqueria) is a must-visit. So much good food, it'd be easy to pig out, walk around, then pig out again. We determined the New Year's Eve celebration was at Placa Espanaya. Party there was INCREDIBLE. Finished up and ended up walking about two miles back to the ship (catching a cab in the middle of crowd that size was both difficult and impractical), made it back with about twenty minutes to spare.

Disembarkation / Return Travel:

January 2nd:

- Because a port was removed from the itinerary AFTER the flights had been booked, we were given a night’s stay at a hotel in Rome (pretty decent trade off, but Mallorca would have been fun).

- We would be transported to the hotel instead of the airport, like our vouchers said.

- Asked if transportation to airport was included, was told it was not

- 25 buses deliver hundreds of people to the hotel and dump us there. Inside is pandemonium. A few NCL employees were trying to answer the questions of hundreds of people.

- Finally found out we’d have to check in sometime after 3, so we stashed our luggage and headed out for sightseeing.

- Came back about five, got our room keys. Find out NCL actually DID set up transportation to the airport.

- Go to get luggage. NOT THERE.

- Hotel attendant tells me they took it to our room. Go to the room. Not there.

- Go back down, find out they may have taken it to another person’s room with the same last name….

- Follow the worker to the other room, there’s our luggage.

- In the morning, driver was there early and with a van, ready to go. Ride to the airport was the easiest part of travel to that point. (Finally something was easy!)

- No issues with return flight.
davearellano619’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Ages 16+
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    Our second time there, so we ventured out on our own. Went to Barcelona Cathedral, very impressive. Spent lots of time on La Rambla. Definitely feels like the center of the city in a good way. La Boqueria Market (Mercado de Boqueria) is a must-visit. So much good food, it'd be easy to pig out, walk around, then pig out again. We determined the New Year's Eve celebration was at Placa Espanaya. Party there was INCREDIBLE. Finished up and ended up walking about two miles back to the ship (catching a cab in the middle of crowd that size was both difficult and impractical), made it back with about twenty minutes to spare.
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  • Dubrovnik
    Dubrovnik, Croatia - took the ship-arranged ($15pp) shuttle into town.
    Walked the city walls. Amazing.
    Inside the city walls was magical, though the wind seems to gain intensity traveling through the small alleyways and blasts you with cold air. Spiced wine helped.
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  • Florence (Livorno)
    Pisa was a fun, quick stop, the highlight being, of course, the Tower.
    Florence was amazing. So much history, so much significance. We will definitely return, preferably when it's warmer.
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  • Kotor
    Kotor, Montenegro - Ferry drops you off near the small town.
    Walked through town (on our own) to entrance to steps (1300+) that lead to the fort at the top of the mountain.
    Guy at the top sells soda, water, and, more importantly, beer. Amazing views from the top. Small town inside the walls was very cool.
    Cats are EVERYWHERE and very friendly.
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  • Monaco (Monte Carlo)
    Nice and Little Train tour was okay. Parts of what the tour guide covered were also covered during the Little Train tour, would be good to remove the duplicity in the interest of time. Seems like their significance is based on the famous people who stayed/lived there. Beautiful city.
    Upon return to Monte Carlo, we had time to see the Christmas village area near the port. Really, really cool. Had Nutella crepes, then the adults enjoyed spiced wine while the kids had hot chocolate.
    **Return Ferry boarding process was a cluster**** Arriving one hour before the last ferry was scheduled to depart, we spent that hour on the pier waiting. Pretty sure the ship departed about an hour and a half late.
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  • Venice
    Venice (Christmas Day) - great city, but still flooded. Very surreal.
    Very walkable, and since I'd been there previously, we didn't take a shore excursion.
    Did a gondola ride, a bit expensive but memorable, just COLD.
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