After reading all the negative reviews on Cruise Critic, my partner and I were determined to have a good time on our vacation. We now believe that the negative reviews are from people whose expectations were extremely high and unrealistic. This was our fourth cruise together and our second on NCL. We had a wonderful time on the 9/11/11 sailing out of New Orleans.
Embarkation: The check in process was painless. If you have cruised with NCL before, you can use the Latitudes check in line. The actual boarding process was a bit hectic. It seem like the crowd was hovering around the entrance waiting for their boarding group letters to be called. It did seem a little unorganized. We arrived at the pier around noon and we were on the ship by 12:35. Not bad in my opinion.
Stateroom: The staterooms were available by 1 pm, which was great! Fast turn around time for the Spirit! We had a balcony mid ship stateroom. It was a smaller cabin, but worked out for us. The balcony was smaller than on other ships, but was comfortable with two chairs and a small table. My only complaint the entire week was about the amount of smokers on this cruise. I know you run the risk of dealing with cigarette smoke when you book a balcony cabin, but it seemed like every time I wanted to enjoy the balcony, a colony of smokers would get the same idea. So much for getting fresh air. I guess next time we will book a balcony forward so the smoke isn't so much of a bother. Our stateroom stewards Jacob and Dio were THE BEST. When the bed began to cause my lower back to hurt, they were quick to change out the mattress and also put a nice memory foam topper on it as well. Problem solved. The bathroom was larger than we had experienced on other ships, with the toilet area having it's own privacy door. The room and bathroom may have been worn, but it was clean, which to is the most important part.
Small balcony, great storage space, quiet location, close to mid ship stairs and elevators.