We are empty nesters in our late 50's - early 60's. We cruise for the convenience of being able to unpack only once - and the itineraries. We are foodies, but certainly do not expect gourmet dining for every meal. We expect our room and the ship to be clean and comfortable, but do not go looking for the little things that might be wrong. We have cruised on Holland and Celebrity in the past, as well as several others that are no longer in business. This was our first NCL cruise.
We traveled across the country to our comfortable little hotel 2 days prior to boarding the Norwegian Spirit, meeting up with our good friends from England. Having the extra time before the cruise was worth it, giving us time to relax and catch up with the jet lag. Boston is a beautiful, clean city loaded with a blend of the historical old and upscale new.
We arrived at the pier on Saturday (via our $5 shuttle from our hotel) at noon, and were immediately shown to a short line to begin the embarkation procedure. It was a fast, easy process and we were on the ship in about a half hour. We proceeded to Windows dining room for lunch, thanks to the recommendations from CC members (the staff was sending guests toward the buffet). We enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch before hearing the announcement that our rooms were ready about 1:30 pm. Our stewards were there to introduce themselves, and called us by name every time we saw them.
We did a quick exploration of the ship, then back to the room where our luggage was waiting by 2:00 pm. After a quick safety drill (no lifejackets needed), we headed to Henry's Pub for our scheduled Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. A great turnout of CC members as well as ship's officers. NCL provided snacks and juice.
As we were on the 14-day round trip, I will not bore you with all the details of every single day - perhaps just the highlights.
After hearing how small the rooms were, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they suited us just fine. There are all kinds of little nooks, crannies, shelves and drawers for storing items. The closets were a little short on hangers, but our room steward quickly brought us more. I find the over-the-door shoe bag invaluable for the inside of the bathroom door to store all the toiletries. In addition, an extra 3-prong plug (plus an extension cord) is a must, as there is only one outlet. There is plenty of storage under the bed for suitcases and other items you do not use regularly. We had an outside room with a large window on the 5th floor and found it quite comfortable (and quiet).
We have coffee (and sometimes a light breakfast) delivered to our room each morning. It also serves as our morning wake-up call, as they always call within minutes of when they will be delivering. They are ALWAYS on time - in fact usually a little early, and the coffee is great.
We ate in every single specialty restaurant: Shogun, Teppanyaki, LeBistro, Trattoria, Cagney's, All-You-Can-Eat Sushi (at Shogun), plus Windows, The Gardens, Blue Lagoon, and Raffles (buffet). Oops, almost forgot the Murder Mystery Dinner.
Our least favorite was probably Shogun. My husband, being a connoisseur of hot wings, was not impressed with the wings at the Blue Lagoon, although they were quickly replaced with the dozen oysters on the half shell - which he claims were delicious.
The best would be a toss-up between Teppanyaki and Cagney's - although the Murder Mystery Dinner was extremely good. We found all the food to be very good, with lots of variety. Raffles buffet had different items every day. Breakfast included everything you could possibly think of, and then some. Windows had two great Eggs Benedict dishes. I cannot for the life of me understand how someone could not find what they wanted to eat on the Spirit!
The evening shows we saw were entertaining: "On Broadway", "The Second City", "Elements" (especially the finale!). We enjoyed hanging out in Henry's Pub (Ninus was the best!) and playing Trivia with crewmembers Charlane and Eddie.
The Galaxy of the Stars was a very beautiful place to sit and read a book during the day, with its floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the sea. A special treat was the day we saw Minke whales and a whole pod (12+) of Belugas going into the Saguenay Fjord.
At night, the Galaxy of the Stars was a fun place to watch the games and dances that the cruise staff had organized. Champagne Charlie's was a relaxing place to meet friends, have a cocktail, and listen to soft music with either Margie & Sam, or the Love Brothers and Lira. The library was also a nice quiet place to read and relax.
We spent a few hours a couple of nights in the casino - won some and lost some. Although it is a smoking area (we are non-smokers), the ventilation must have been good as the smoke did not bother us. We did not experience any other areas where smoking was an issue.
We took advantage of a special in the spa on a port day and each had a massage.
We only saw a handful of children on the cruise (less than 6?) - and they were mostly babies or toddlers, and very well behaved. Probably due to the time of the year, most children were in school. I would say the average age of the cruisers on this particular cruise was probably early 50's.
We only did three ship's excursions: Island Drive & Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown); Kennebunkport (Portland); and the Scenic Boston Ending at the Airport. They were all excellent. The last tour spent several hours touring the Boston area then dropped us off at our gate at the airport - an excellent way to not have to schlep our luggage all over the city PLUS pay for transportation to the airport.
The weather for the entire trip was lovely. The seas were fairly calm, EXCEPT for the 2nd to last night out - we must have run out of luck. About 6 pm a wave hit the front of the bow of the ship with a BAM! that almost stopped it in its tracks. Then the rocking and rolling began for the rest of the night. The TV station that is tuned to the ship's instruments showed wind speeds of 83 mph, but not sure if that was accurate. I really didn't want to know any more. I took a tranquilizer and went to bed! The next morning the seas were calm and it was another beautiful day.
We enjoyed the "Whatever" attitude of NCL. We never once had to wait for a table in any of the restaurants. We were able to have dinner at a table for 2 or 4, or ask to be seated at a larger table to meet new people. The dress code was casual - no need to pack formalwear, or even dresses or ties. We chose to wear slacks to dinner, although we did see people wearing nice jeans with polo shirts, sweaters, or cotton shirts.
The staff and crewmembers were extremely friendly and always greeted you with a hello and a smile. Others went the extra mile, like "Mr. Happy" at the entrance to Raffles, Charlane, and Eddie Spaghetti.
I think a cruise, or vacation of any type, is what you make it. We chose to enjoy this trip to its fullest - and we did just that. Sure, there were some small annoyances, but the good things far outweighed the bad - so much so, that I cannot even remember what those annoyances were. NCL has definitely risen to the top of our list of "One of the Best Cruise Lines"!
#5090 - Very quiet location. Very stable during rocky seas. Nice large ocean view window. Beds are heavenly! Plenty of space for 2 people; lots of nooks and crannies for things. Easily accessible to restaurants via stairs and elevators.