42 Norwegian Spirit Alaska Cruise Reviews

We headed up to Seattle on Friday, 9/2/05. It is usually a five hour drive, but took us close to eight as we stopped several times on our way. We stopped and had breakfast on our way out of town at I-Hop. Then when we got into Washington, ... Read More
We headed up to Seattle on Friday, 9/2/05. It is usually a five hour drive, but took us close to eight as we stopped several times on our way. We stopped and had breakfast on our way out of town at I-Hop. Then when we got into Washington, we stopped at the outlet malls and shopped around. I didn't find anything that I could not live without. We also had Mexican food for lunch. We cut over at Olympia in order to get to Port Orchard. This is what really added a lot of time to our trip. We finally made it to Alma''s and David's house at 5:00 p.m. Alma had left us the house key. For the most part I had dozed while mom drove. I wasn't feeling all that great, don know why. Alma brought pizza and hot-wings home for dinner. I fell asleep on the sofa about 9:00 p.m. On Saturday, we went out to breakfast before we caught the Bremerton Ferry over to Seattle. Once we were on the ferry, I was getting way, way, too excited. It took us about 45 minutes to get to Seattle. I drove off the ferry and headed to the parking for the NCL Cruise Line. As I was driving down the street, a yellow taxi cab made an illegal turn in front of me and I missed him by mere inches. He had to back up to get out of my way as he could not make the turn. The gal behind me was honking at me. Yep, to my mother's dismay, I flipped her the bird. My heart was going 90 mph! My breathing had accelerated. If mom had been driving, I think we would have nailed him. Boarding the ship wasn't a problem. They met us in the parking garage, unloaded our luggage and then whisked is off to the loading area. Mom had her walker with her. We signed in, mom gave them her credit card, we presented ID, Oregon Driver's License and certified birth certificate. They took our pictures and issued us each a room card. We went through metal detectors and walked onto the ship. It was beautiful. The grand area went from the 7th floor to the 13th floor. There were three glass elevators to the left of us. Also to the left of us were another set of stairs that went on either side of a grand piano. The piano was sitting on a huge slab of moss green glass that was probably 16 feet around, it has been etched with tulips. Under that were fountains completely encircling the glass. It was a spectacular view as you rode the elevators up and down to the 7th floor. The ceiling has wonderful stained glass. I felt like I was in a palace with all the Oriental artwork and motif. We headed up to our stateroom, which had a queen size bed, small chair and sofa. We also had a balcony with two chairs on it. Small writing desk. It was not spectacular, but didn't matter, we didn't stay in it for very long. At 3:00 p.m. all passengers had to assemble on the Promenade (sp) deck below their assigned lifeboats for a drill. We had to wear our life vests. They had whistles attached to them, along with a homing devise that you activate. The lifeboats hold 150 people. There were a total of 2,159 passengers and 943 crew aboard the ship. The first night out, Mom and I had dinner at the Raffle's BBQ on the 12th floor. This BBQ took place by the pool and four hot-tubs. We had hamburgers, ribs, potatoes salad. Very nice. We moved inside later and went to the Galaxy of the Stars. This is a huge bar area on that floor that has windows all around it. You can look out and see where you are heading on the left, right and forward. (If you are seated in the center). I did not take any pictures of the boat! I cannot believe that I forgot. Anyway, mom and I got a bucket of beer! It was a six-pack that was in a small yellow bucket so that we could haul it around with us. Sticker shock if ever there was $18! OUCH. That also included a 15% gratuity that they just add to your bill. The next day, we were still out at sea. I explored the ship from top to bottom, stem to stern. All we did on Sunday was explore. Mom gambled some and won about $70 in less then five minutes and lost it in two! Lots and lots of fun. We went to the English Pub for lunch and had fish and chips. Very, very good. We ate at Maxime's that night which is one of the restaurants that charges a cover charge. $25 per person. Mom had a whole lobster and I had lobster and steak. The best bread around too! After dinner we went back down to deck 7 so that mom could sit on the Promenade deck and smoke and drink her coffee. I was looking out with the binoculars when I saw a pod of orca whales. 5 or 6 of them. I was so excited, I was shouting at mom to look... pretty soon there must have been 15 people trying to see them as well. Wow, they were spectacular coming out of the ocean! Because we were so close to the main elevators, they were always crowded. I would wait until mom got into the elevator and then walk up or down the steps to meet her. Probably why I did not gain any weight! We docked in Ketchikan on Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. This is where mom was suppose to take the helicopter and dog sled ride, but they had cancelled it because of the conditions in the dog camp. She took a boat ride and did not like it much. But that was the one year anniversary of dad's passing. I'm sure whatever she did would not be good. Me, I had a great time. We got in a bus and started out of town. As we were crossing a stream the gal stopped so that we could see the salmon swimming up stream. There was so many! I've never seen anything like it. Next we went to a lodge and boarded a boat to take us out to the crab traps. Beautiful waterfalls everywhere. Beautiful, plain and simple. There were several crabs in the pot. On our way back we saw bears at the mouth of a stream feasting on salmon. It was quite a wonderful sight. They just stopped and stared at us. The things are huge! When we got back to the lodge we had a full crab lunch. Oh my gosh, I felt like I had gone to food heaven. Hot, fresh crab with melted butter! I got back to town in time to do a little shopping, but was still worried about mom, so I headed back to the ship. You have to present your guest card and photo id and everything has to go through security. This side trip was #2 on my list of fun. That night we ate at Raffles which is the buffet and they had seafood night, lots of crab, salmon, scallops, fish. All very yummy. I went to the show at the Moulin Rouge at 7:30. It was a production of various broadway tunes, dancing, singing and kicking up their heels very good! That ended at 8:30 p.m. I headed back to the room and mom was sleeping so I decided to hit the hot tub for awhile.... ahhhh what a wonderful day! We set sail for our next destination. Juneau. 09/06/05 I have to admit, that I wish I had done something different in Juneau. I took a tour of a gold mine and learned the history of crushing the rock to look for the gold. It was interesting, but from what mom told me about her trip to the Mendenhall Glacier, that is the trip I should have taken! Oh well, right? She took some great pictures that I have to figure out how to size. I suspect that I will put all the pictures together this weekend and then post. On the way back to the ship, our tour guide was telling us about the totem poles around town. There really were some spectacular ones that she stopped at for us to admire. Then, she told us that they cost $3500-$5000 per foot! They after from about 10 feet to 25 feet! Wow, but they were so beautiful. When I got back to the ship, I just went to our stateroom. I was worried about mom and watched out our balcony, reading my book, until she hobbled into sight. Then, I would go down to where the passengers were embarking and carry her stuff back up to the room. We left Juneau around 3:00 p.m. and sailed to the Sawyer Glacier. Now, I must tell you, this was my favorite place we went where we did not get off the ship. After sailing for about 1.5 hours, we started to see small and then larger chunks of ice floating by the ship. The were beautiful white and aqua blue from the ice being so old. There were waterfalls about every - 90 - 120 feet. All various sizes flowing down the maintains. The mountains raised straight out of the fjord. The water was green from the algae that lives in it. This was the most spectacular, haunting site along our journey. So pristine in its beauty. Mom and I had reservations at Le Bistro at 5:30 p.m. We were not suppose to get to the glacier until 6:15 p.m. but arrived at 5:45 p.m. So I left the restaurant to take pictures. Fortunately, the promenade deck was right outside the restaurant door and I was able to go right out and take the pictures. This was the best dinner meal we had that night. I had an appetizer of lobster/crab/baby shrimp, wrapped up in a thin layer of smoked salmon and topped with caviar. There were also three small slices of avocado on the plate, with a sort of dipping sauce. This was heavenly! I had never had caviar, but certainly understand why people like it. It was delicious! I had chicken breast stuffed with wild rice and mushrooms. I did not care of the onion soup and only ate a small amount of it and passed on the Caesar salad. We had the chocolate / fruit fondue for desert and this was WONDERFUL!!!! 09/7/05 Skagway. We arrived in Skagway at 6:00 a.m. My tour was scheduled for 7:25 a.m., Mom's not until 9:25 a.m. I left her at her favorite spot, the Blue Lagoon, and headed off. I was taking a float trip at an eagle preserve. This was my highlight of the trip! I loved it! We had to take a ferry over to Haines. It was about a 45 minute ride. Amazing the history of their "liquid" highways. If we had driven, it would have been 350 miles, by boat, it is 25 miles! Wow. I loved the fjords. The mountains jutting out of the water to beautiful views. More waterfalls could be seen here. There were not as many, as the night before, but the ones that we did see were wonderful. (Personally, I think someone should do a coffee-table book on the waterfalls of Alaska!) When we arrived in Haines, we were met by our tour guild, Ty. He was a hoot! We boarded our bus. Now, mind you, on every tour, there were couples and I was always the "single" one. He partnered up with me and we had a great time chatting on our way to the place we were going to get on the rafts. As we drove along, he pointed out several streams where we could see TONS of salmon. I kid you not, you could walk out there and just pick them up, to hell with fishing! We arrived at our destination. There were a total of five large rafts. We took off our shoes and put on rubber boots and rain ponchos as it was sprinkling on and off. We were all given life-preservers too. Our head guide gave us a talk about what we needed to do should the rafts become stuck or someone falls in. They also demonstrated how to get on the raft. We had to "raffle" a few times where we sort of got stuck in the low water on our journey. That is where you all bounce up and down on the raft... too, too, funny! My assigned guide was Debra aka DZ. She was awesome. About 25ish. The rafts seat 8. I was in the front of the raft with a husband and wife. Two couples in the back and DZ in the center. We got in and started down the river in search of eagles and other wild life. We were not on the river two minutes and started to spot eagles in the trees. We saw salmon swimming by. (Mom's trip she was on a jet boat and saw a moose.) We all chatted and floated searching for eagles. We must have spotted at least 25-30 adults and many younger birds. We saw nests and mating pairs. They were so majestic. According to our guild, they have 200-250 birds in residence year round, however, for some reason in November, they have well over 4000 birds! They even have a festival celebrating this. We floated past an Indian village that was abandoned many years ago. We learned about fish net fishing that all Alaskan residences are allow to do. We were told that the water we were on was less that 12 hours old from the glacier. We floated by the new Indian village with was extremely modern. We learned all kinds of things. The trip was almost 3 hours long. As we approached our landing, I look above me and not 12 feet over us were two eagles. I felt like I could almost reach out and touch them. I'm praying those photos came out. They are on the film I took on Mom's 35 mm. She has the disks and I need to go get them. Once we landed, we were treated to a picnic lunch. Roast beef & turkey, 2, 3 kinds of cheeses, all sorts of bread, homemade cookies, hot chocolate, coffee and lemonade. I loved this trip and anyone going to Haines I would encourage to take it! I tipped DZ, Ty and Anne, our bus driver, $5.00 each. They made the trip so wonderful! Once I got back to town, I went shopping. They have the Alaskan T-Shirt company with lots and lots of souvenirs. They were all marked down from 50% to 75% and I made a killing! I wish I had bought more there. Ended up spending $60. They said on the ticket I had saved $85.00. I believe it. I got cups, t-shirts, five necklaces, a drinking glass, and so much more! I headed back to the ship and took a quick hot-tub while I awaited Mom's return. She got back about 1.5 hours later. I had eaten at Raffles, the buffet when I got back so I was not hungry. Mom decided to try out the Garden Room. She was seated at a table of 10 with what she referred to as "odds & ends" of singles and couples. She thoroughly enjoyed her dinner and the companionship. Me, I got my book out and laid in bed resting. I fell to sleep before she was back at 9:30 p.m. I awoke around 3:00 a.m. The boat was rocking back and forth, left to right, I felt like we were a cork. I could year the hull slapping against the waves. I looked out our window. It was horrible. I could not go back to sleep and actually pulled the life-vests out of the closet and set them on the desk. Just in case. Mom slept through the whole thing as she had taken a pain pill! 09/8/05. We docked in Prince Rupert, British Columbia around 2:30 p.m. that day. Mom and I took a train ride together out of there. We enjoyed it as it went along another fjord. There was a lot of history told to us here as well. Mainly, they hand tons of canaries throughout the area that had failed over the years. The pulp mill pulled out in the late-90s and their economy had gone to crap especially. That is when they decided to get the cruise ships into their port. I enjoyed this trip as well. Very informative, but for the life of me, I cannot remember hardly anything. One thing that I did remember, was we stopped at a place where the Indians had made a drawing that was over 150 years old. I have pictures and they turned out very well. (I think I will take Pegs advice and post them somewhere and just link them here.) That was our last port of call. 09/09/05. We were out to sea the entire day. Mom and I went to breakfast at 7:00 a.m. as we were going to the spa! Mom was hungry. I've never seen her eat so much food that day. We got to the spa and we were having "moderate seas". Moderate my ass! I had a neck, back and shoulder massage, followed by a facial. Unfortunately during the facial I got extremely nauseous. The gal gave me soda crackers and I felt better. This was about 1.5 hours. Mom had the works done and was there for about 3.5-4.00 hours. Anyway, afterwards, I went and had to hear a lecture on the disembarking procedures. It was interesting, but my tummy couldn't take it and I had to leave about three-quarters of the way through. I went back to our room, laid on the bed and napped. I felt better when I woke up and took another hot-tub soaking. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..... it was so beautiful out. They had another BBQ. I went and got mom a plate, but did not want to go through the line again. I really didn't want to eat but went into Raffles and got myself some fruit and a couple small sandwiches. These really did help! Mom was the opposite. She ate all day long it seemed like. She decided to take a nap in the afternoon. I headed down to the chocolate buffet. Oh my Lord, but this is heaven for chocoholics! There was so many people in line, but it only took about 10 minutes to get through it. That was ok, because it enabled to me admire the various ice sculptures. They had a Chinese dragon carved that was about 10 feet long and 3 feet high. There was a horse with wings, like Pegasus and an eagle. They were lit just right and were so beautiful to gaze upon. I took pictures of them, but not the buffet as they kept herding us through telling us to keep moving! I took one small plate back to our room, then I ran upstairs for coffee so that we could kick back and enjoy the sweets. My favorite was a rum/raisin cake dipped in chocolate! Mom's was the mousse. It was all very good. We were ready to head back to Seattle! By then we were tired and decided to grab a tray from Raffles. Now, mind you that was NOT the best place to eat, but it was very convenient to us. Some little titbits to impart: My mom had a favorite spot on the promenade deck and when she got up at 5:00 a.m. she would head over to the Blue Lagoon, get her coffee and sit out on the deck, smoking and drinking...lol coffee.... She is a chatter box and made many acquaintances. She loved it there and I could pretty much count on her being there. I loved going to the hot tubs (5) total. Sit there in the hot water 104.5 degrees and watch the mountains go by. It was so lovely and relaxing. I probably went 4-5 times in the evenings. I was so exhausted from our day trips though I usually was in bed by 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. One night I fell asleep in my clothes at about 6:30-7:00 p.m.! I'm sure I am forgetting something, but it was just so much fun, so much to do. Oh yeah, one night mom and I had drinks, she finally got her Long Island Tea, I got a Pina Colada. She didn't like the tea so I switched with her. She got sick at her stomach from it. 14 Sep 2005 - Link to photos - Alaska! I'm working on the link right now for the photos. I've not organized them yet, but will this weekend, but I have had a lot of request. http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/jj_jaylene/my_photos Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Our cruise on the NCL Spirit was absolutely wonderful, from the smooth and efficient embarkation, to the equally effortless debarkation at Pier 66 in Seattle. NCL has a dedicated parking area which made parking, and walking across the ... Read More
Our cruise on the NCL Spirit was absolutely wonderful, from the smooth and efficient embarkation, to the equally effortless debarkation at Pier 66 in Seattle. NCL has a dedicated parking area which made parking, and walking across the Skybridge, right up to the ship the easiest possible. NCL has an area set up for passengers to check in, then wait, with refreshments for their number to be called. This process took 45 minutes at the most from the time we arrived, till we were being escorted to our cabin on Deck 10. The cabin was a spacious inside cabin, with the most wonderful bathroom possible. A hair dryer was provided, and worked beautifully. The shower was every bit as nice as most home showers, with soap dispenser, moveable shower head, and best of all, wonderful sliding doors. No curtain to contend with. There was about a 5 foot closet, and extra hangers were provided upon request. Plenty of drawer storage is available also. Our luggage fit nicely under the bed when we were ready to stow it away. The room cabin has a safe, which made us feel confident that our personal papers, and money would be secure. There is a coffee maker in each cabin, with a choice of decaf or regular coffee. The beds had been converted to queen and had the requested eggcrate mattress already in place. The linens on this ship are luxurious - with a down duvet, and extra sheets upon request. Our room steward/ess were absolutely accommodating. They spoiled us the entire seven days, and never let us down. Each evening, there was a new and different towel animal on our turned back bed, with mints on the pillows. We found the food aboard the Spirit to be just fine. We ate many meals in Raffles, and did not experience any of the waiting that others have complained about. The food was much better than in many local restaurant buffets. It was always hot, and tasty. The desserts were always a joy here. The Garden Room and Windows were much more luxurious than we had expected. The food and service in both of these restaurants was super. We never had to wait in either of these either. We were surprised, as our ship was booked to capacity. The specialty restaurants were beautiful, and the service was A-1 all of the way. From being seated immediately - with our reservations, to the waiter immediately unfolding our napkins and placing them upon or laps. Dinners in the specialty restaurants which we tried were absolutely scrumptious. We ate in Maxim's for fish and steak, Shogun for Teppanyaki, and LaTratorria for Italian Cuisine. We found the service to be far more than what we are accustomed to at nicer restaurants in our area. The entertainment was very good. Richie Minervini was hilarious - and seemed well received by everyone. The production numbers presented in the Moulin Rouge were not at all Las Vegas style, but very enjoyable. The Grand Centrum of this ship is spectacular with the glassed in elevators adding a bit of drama. The entire ship was spotless, with crew forever polishing and cleaning. However, they did this so effortlessly, that we were rarely aware of their presence. The Picture House was a favorite last thing to do for our crowd. The movies were not new, but certainly enjoyable. The Picture House was also used during the daytime for lectures and presentations of several kinds. Bingo was a daily happening, and although we did not participate, it was much fun to watch, and could always be provide a good laugh. Evenings had some sort of entertainment - from music, to the Cruise Director and his staff putting on skits, or our particular favorite, "The Liars Club" presentation. This one, the audience participated, and had a roaring good time. The cruise was fabulous. Alaska just cannot be described. It is awesome and one trip definitely will not be enough. We shall be returning, and if the Spirit were not being moved to the East Coast, we would re-book her in a heartbeat. I feel that the Ports of Call have been covered thoroughly by previous posters. But, I would add, that we found Prince Rupert, not boring as others have often stated - it was one of our very favorite stops. Our son, daughter in law, and my husband rented scooters in Prince Rupert, and rode around for about four hours. They had a blast. I walked the town, and went farther than most probably do, and found wonderful sights, and friendly local people to chat with. Cow Bay was interesting. This is a beautiful little picturesque town - you truly should go beyond the shopping area, and see the true beauty here. This evening on board, the local Tsimshian Indian performers put on an interpretive dance and show which explained about their tribe. Son and daughter in law a did kayakingin Ketchikan, and had a glorious day with their guide, going across the waterway towards and into Pennock Cove. Juneau was very touristy, but we truly loved seeing Mendenhall and the surrounding area. The highlight of our trip was Skagway. Here, we rented a car through Avis, and drove "Murray's" Yukon Route. It was thrilling to see each and every spot that he so generously described for any of us who wanted to download his guide and use it. The scenery along this Highway is awesome, and we especially loved being able to stop at our discretion, and take photos of each special spot. Of course, we did stop at the Cinnamon Cache, and had a delightful time chatting with the owner who is French. He entertained us with many tales of his youth in France, and how he came to be in Carcross now. The weather for us was absolutely beautiful. We only had one half day of drizzle while visiting Mendenhall, and otherwise, it was light jacket weather, if even that. I can't say enough about the ship, the crew, and the entire cruise. We absolutely would do this exact cruise again if possible. For those of you who will cruising on the Spirit after the dry dock, I can only say that you are in for a delightful treat. This is a marvelous ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This was my second Alaska cruise. The first was on Royal Carib's Rhapsody of the Seas. That experience was so stunning, I just had to repeat it. The overall trip, on a 1-10 scale, was a 9.9. The only gripes I had were 1) Not being ... Read More
This was my second Alaska cruise. The first was on Royal Carib's Rhapsody of the Seas. That experience was so stunning, I just had to repeat it. The overall trip, on a 1-10 scale, was a 9.9. The only gripes I had were 1) Not being able to print a boarding pass for our return flight because internet access was shut off at 10:00 PM the night before we reached our final port and 2) Waiting in line to reboard when returning from a port call due to security procedures. Hard to blame NCL for that because of the times in which we live. Aside from that, the entire experience exceeded expectations. The embarkation process was far easier than the last time. We only spent about ten minutes in line and were away from the check-in desk within another five. Suggest you do the online pre-registration. It makes the process painless. The food was great! The buffet on Deck 12 aft, Raffles, has a wide variety of choices and all are presented well. Windows, the main dining room on Deck 7 aft, provides elegant dining for all three meals and you can have all you want. We both had seconds on lobster and escargot the one evening. We did not see any reason to visit any of the restaurants that require a cover charge and offer a broadened menu for an extra cost. The ship itself is both gorgeous and absolutely spotless. Our stateroom was more than adequate and the head is easy to use. Do yourself a favor and spring for a balcony room. You won't regret it. The crew is a mixture of ethnic backgrounds and all are friendly and gracious. NCL obviously does a great job in both hiring and training. We called on Ketchikan, which is just okay. You beer drinkers will want to check out Mike's Elbow Room, a block east of Front St. There is also a fine museum at the far end of town that's worth the 5 bucks p/p. The rest of town is comprised largely of jewelry shops and tourist stuff. Why anyone would go to Alaska to buy gold and diamonds is beyond me, but I'm just a South Side Chicago kinda' guy. Juneau is a wonderful town! Take a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. It's awesome! As for local watering holes there, check out The Lucky Lady and The Alaska Bar, which is almost right across the street. While we were there, we were treated to a bear sighting behind the bar... a cute cub busily finishing a discarded can of nacho cheese from the Mex restaurant next door. Didn't want to get too close in case Mama Bear was nearby. The Red Dog Saloon is the most famous bar, but is a bit too touristy for me, but you should at least walk in for a look. Lots to do there and all worth the cost. As for Skagway, take the train trip and listen to tales of the Yukon Gold Rush. Unbelievable how badly some of those folks wanted to search for gold! Moe's Place is the local saloon of choice. We ventured up Tracy Arm for our glacier adventure and all I can say is WOW! It takes superb skill to maneuver a vessel of that size up a narrow fjord and if you don't experience a sublime feeling of absolute enchantment during those few hours, there's little hope for you. My own reaction was one of feeling both insignificant and extremely grateful that I was allowed into this hallowed place. My tears were not just from the wind. A few asides in wrapup. On deck 12 forward, along the starboard entryway to the Galaxy Room, smokers will find a small paradise called, appropriately enough, The Smoking Room. There you will find large easy chairs with a great view and a nice selection of cigars. You won't want to tell too many about this sanctuary, because few find it on their own. The other normally quiet place is also on Deck 12 aft, just behind Raffles. You'll find a nice bar, a superb view aft, and places to smoke... a rapidly disappearing luxury. I'll vent another frustration that has nothing whatsoever to do with cruise lines; the supreme farce of "airport security." How anyone could have designed a system where four books of matches are okay, but you mini BIC lighter gets confiscated, is the height of tragic-comedy. And to have some mope, who probably couldn't otherwise secure employment at a carwash, paw through your luggage while unchecked containers are being loaded into your plane's belly is the ultimate absurdity. Whew! I feel better now. The Alaska cruise probably isn't for everyone, but if nature's grandeur moves you, this is definitely for you. The cruise up and down the inside passage will leave you spellbound as you look at land upon which no man has yet set foot, and hopefully, never will. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This was our 5th cruise, but the 1st freestyle and the 1st Alaskan. We went with a large group and had an inside cabin and a balcony cabin- the balcony cabin sure made passing through Glacier bay nice! I really like NCL and there are both ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, but the 1st freestyle and the 1st Alaskan. We went with a large group and had an inside cabin and a balcony cabin- the balcony cabin sure made passing through Glacier bay nice! I really like NCL and there are both good and bad things about freestyle. The Spirit itself was beautiful! You couldn't ask for a prettier ship! The food was good, too, but with freestyle you don't really get to know your staff, and that can be either good or bad, depending on how you like it. I kind of missed the personal touch of permanent servers and the shows they put on after some of the dinners, too. The cleaners were okay, but no pillow animals and not always chocolates, either. Funny thing is, that was only in the inside room, the balcony room always got both. Guess categories really do matter! It's deceiving to say those things first, because I really had a great time and hated to come home! I love Alaska! And when we saw the icebergs, it was very exciting! The only thing more exciting was my brother got engaged on this cruise! So we really did have a great time. Just a note on Prince Rupert- if you've read further down in the reviews, you'll find some reference to the cow fish in cow bay. It's like the Loch Ness monster of Canada. Watch for it at cowbay. A group of us were standing on the pier when we heard a loud noise- like a cow mooing, almost! But when we turned all we saw was a splash and the ridge of its back. The woman who runs the gift shop can tell you more. I think she'll remember me- she's the one who first started calling the mysterious creature cowfish. Tell her hi for me and hope you all have a great time on your cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
My husband and I as well as my parents cruised on Norwegian Spirit from 9/3-9/10 to Alaska. This was our third cruise, my parents first. Our first two cruises were in the Caribbean, one with Carnival and one with Royal Caribbean. ... Read More
My husband and I as well as my parents cruised on Norwegian Spirit from 9/3-9/10 to Alaska. This was our third cruise, my parents first. Our first two cruises were in the Caribbean, one with Carnival and one with Royal Caribbean. Embarkation: This was absolutely the best and smoothest transition we ever encountered. All of the embarkation staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. We arrived at the port at 11:20 am and we were in our room at 12:15. UNBELIEVABLE. Everything went very quickly. Kudos to NCL for mastering this normally frustrating process. Rooms: We upgraded at the last minute to a balcony cabin, and I will advise if it is anywhere remotely possible, get a balcony!!!! There is so much beautiful scenery in Alaska and the public rooms with windows are very crowded and it is difficult to get a seat by the windows. Most of the trip it is pretty cold to be out on the deck, so having a balcony was GREAT!!! We would go out to get pictures, and then come back into the warm cabin. And let me just say the scenery in Alaska is FANTASTIC. Dining: The food was comparable to Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and pretty good. This is totally personal preference, but hubby and I really missed the assigned dinner times of our other cruises. We loved having the same waiter and tablemates every night on our other two cruises. We came to the realization that freestyle dining is not for us. The dining staff was good, but we just missed the "event" that dinner was on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We felt rushed to get done. Entertainment: I have to be honest, we weren't very impressed with the shows. They had one 'greased lightning' that was okay. The comedians were excellent however. Ketchikan: We went over to Creek Street, did some shopping and then watched the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, which by the way is totally worth it. We really enjoyed it. Juneau: We took the free shuttle into town and then took a bus to Mendenhall glacier ($10) per person roundtrip. We did this on our own, did not book ahead. Very easy, no hassle. The bus driver gave us lots of history on Juneau on the way there (about 20 min. drive), which we really enjoyed. Mendenhall glacier was beautiful and hubby really enjoyed all the hiking trails and exploring. Skagway: We rented a car from Avis (called and booked ahead). This went very smoothly. Very easy short walk from pier to town. We then drove to Emerald Lake. And yes, it is amazing!!!!! The most beautiful scenery I think I have ever seen. We saw a black bear with three cubs, otters, seals, snow-capped mountains, amazing lakes, and trees beginning to change color. On the way back we stopped at the small town of Carcross and looked around, got some brochures. Make sure you have ID if you do this drive, because you do travel into Canada. Then on the way back we stopped at a gold dredge tour, learned about the gold rush, gold dredges, history of Skagway, and even got to do some gold panning. All in all, a great day. Prince Rupert: We took the Northcoast Explorer train. Very pretty scenery, very smooth ride, commentator gave us lots of information. Stopped at a cannery along the way and got some of the history on fishing in the area. A nice trip, but wouldn't do that again for $95/person. Definitely overpriced. Our two favorite areas of the ship was Galaxy of the Stars which was a semi-circular room with windows all the way around to look out and Windows restaurant. Alaska is really beautiful. It was pretty cold when we went so I would recommend bringing things to layer. Hubby brought long johns and was perfectly warm the whole week. The pool is heated and believe it or not, people were in the pool occasionally throughout the week. Yes, including me. The hot tubs were great too. All in all, a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This was my first cruise experience and it exceeded all expectations in so many respects. The Norwegian Spirit is an exceptionally lovely ship and it is quite easy to become attached to the vessel and its staff fairly quickly. Now with a ... Read More
This was my first cruise experience and it exceeded all expectations in so many respects. The Norwegian Spirit is an exceptionally lovely ship and it is quite easy to become attached to the vessel and its staff fairly quickly. Now with a few days back home in port and cruise behind me, I find myself smiling fondly when I think of the experience. Embarkation: I understand that this process (as well as debarkation) is dreaded by many. I found it remarkably painless considering how many people needed to be moved onto the ship. I was definitely in a "vacation mode" when I left my residence and was determined not to let anything spoil the experience. From the moment we were left at the cruise terminal by a friend, the NCL staff were courteous and helpful throughout the embarkation process. We arrived within the first half hour of embarkation and were quickly settled into our cabin where we observed the rest of the process. It was fun to watch the comings and goings from our own home city as the Spirit prepared to sail! Debarkation was also well organized and fairly painless. We also waited on the balcony of our cabin to see passengers come off the ship and great quantities of provisions loaded onto the Spirit in preparation for sailing again later that day. We heard one passenger complaining about the debarkation process and frankly, couldn't understand why. Public rooms: Everything was simply lovely. I especially enjoyed the Asian motif of this vessel. It is bright, well appointed and attractive. The Galaxy of the Stars was a nice place to sit and relax -- even without an alcoholic beverage. The Asian restaurants were quite good. Henry's Pub was a quaint, cozy and intimate British pub and we enjoyed an Irish sing-along one evening. Fitness and Recreation: My only disappointment was with the gym facility. The free weights and weight machines were adequate, but the cardio equipment seemed a little lacking. I found myself wishing there were at least a few elliptical machines. It was important for me to be able to work out regularly during the cruise given the huge caloric intake over the span of the week. I can't imagine that I am alone in this criticism. I heard some others wishing there were more cardio machines. With regard to other recreational options, we did not take advantage of the various lectures available. The lecturer/expert who did provide some commentary during the cruise up Tracy Arm to the glacier was very enjoyable and knowledgeable. Cabin: I was pleasantly surprised by the cabin. We had a balcony cabin and it was very comfortable. We had heard complaints about the bed, but we found it quite comfortable. The bathroom was large and the shower was quite comfortable as well and well sized. The electrical outlets also proved more than adequate. I had been a little concerned about this given the number of electrical devices we toted along. Everything worked well and we did not need the converted I had purchased. I highly recommend the balcony cabin -- it made the trip so enjoyable. The hairdryer worked fine for me given my hairstyle. I was happy not to have to bring an extra eclectic device with me. I can see that this dryer is not going to be workable for many women however with longer hair than mine. Value for Price: I have absolutely no criticism here. It was worth every penny. Dining: We enjoyed the freestyle cruising style and concept immensely. Schlepping long evening wear simply does not suit my preferences and tastes. I had understood that certain restaurant venues would be entirely formal while others would be "freestyle", but this was not the case. I was surprised. In fact, the staff seemed to be somewhat lax in enforcing the dress code. The food was quite good and I had no complaints. During the entire week, I had one chicken entree at dinner in Windows that I thought was a little bland, but, honestly, it is barely worth mentioning. The staff were delightful and cordial without exception. Eating at Raffles was sometimes chaotic and left us feeling a tad bit frazzled. I understand the problem given the history of the ship and the layout of the kitchen. I hope this can be remedied. That said, really, I have no complaints given the large number of guests that need to be served at the same time. The chocoholic buffet was spectacular. We attended the viewing and took photos, but elected to forgo the goodies after having had a large lunch with rich desserts just prior to the start of the buffet. I was sorely tempted but got out of line after hearing it would take 25 minutes to get to the tables heavy with every kind of chocolate confection imaginable. It was entertainment enough to witness the number of passengers balancing little plates heaped with 5 and 6 chocolate delicacies as they made their way to the promenade chaise lounges. Service: Again, I thought it was exceptional. We enjoyed chatting with the international staff. I have heard complaints about the towel folding being tired, trite and old. I found it delightful and charming to come "home" to a new little critter every evening knowing that one of the staff had personally crafted the animal to add a little whimsy and fun for each guest. Entertainment: We did not take in any shows, but did watch parts of movies a couple of times in the Picture House. On our first night, we wandered around the ship between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. and were interested in finding out just who would be up at that hour. Indeed, there were other folks wandering as well! And a very pleasant young woman in the Grand Centrum reception desk gave us the correct time when we thought it was about time for breakfast! So much for setting the time back accurately! Shore Excursions: Kayaking was very enjoyable. We would have liked much more time at Mendenhall Glacier, but perhaps that requires another trip. The train trip to White Pass was very enjoyable. All in all, I have few complaints about the excursions. A highlight of the cruise was the trip up Tracy Arm. It was like being in another world. Unbelievable. I heard some complaints about the ship not going closer to the glacier, but this is understandable given the size of the ship and the narrowness of the passage. I am certain that the crew made their decision based on safety concerns. So, another trip to the Sawyer Glacier is a must. Without a doubt, I would recommend this cruise. I know the Spirit is headed for the east coast. She is such a lovely ship and I recommend sailing her as well. With regard to NCL, I would definitely sail NCL again and look forward to the possibility of sailing on one of NCL's other vessels. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
We just returned from a wonderful cruise aboard the Spirit up to Alaska. The experience was memorable and worth every penny. Alaska is quite an experience, HUGE, still rather wild and barely touched as compared with most places in the ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful cruise aboard the Spirit up to Alaska. The experience was memorable and worth every penny. Alaska is quite an experience, HUGE, still rather wild and barely touched as compared with most places in the lower 48. The Spirit is very clean, bright, well-managed, and the extraordinarily international staff is helpful, smiling, efficient, and pleasant to a fault. A small number of fellow passengers were less so. My friend and I appreciated the relaxed atmosphere as compared with more formal traditional approaches to cruising. The food was uniformly good to great; I did not have a single dish that was not tasty, fresh, wonderfully presented, and totally appetizing. The variety of delicate pastries particularly impressed me. But I preferred the simpler main dishes, as the more gourmet fare seemed a bit overly ambitious, once or twice. The specialty restaurants handled the fancy dishes a bit better, perhaps. Breakfasts were just sensational! The Raffles buffet seems a bit crowded at certain times; and I wonder if, perhaps, the floor plan needs adjustment. Occasionally, it was tough to move around through crowded aisles, especially balancing trays and hot beverages. Removing a few tables, or adding some sq-ft. might help; or perhaps just opening the other breakfast venues at 6 AM (on mornings when the excursions begin early from port calls) so we need not all get a hot breakfast in the same place before 7 AM disembarkation. We spent much time in the wonderful hot tubs (even on the chilly days) and sunny fitness room (busy place), and not so much time in the entertainment venues or casino (reflecting our choices); but we heard that several singers and dancers, especially a young lady from the Philippines were unexpectedly talented. On the open sea, some fun waves showed up in the lovely Tivoli pool that provided a special injection of mirth. We did enjoy an Irish sing-along in Henry's pub where our bartender showed a considerable talent for fashioning flowers out of paper napkins. And we enjoyed the movies that played all night, too. Several times we woke VERY early, before 4 AM, (generally, we were happily in bed by 10 PM) and liked to be able to find the theatre and the Blue lagoon open for pizza or burgers. We never used the room service, but it was also 7/24. There were several interesting lectures that we attended, too, on digital photography, glaciers, origami, even dream interpretation; but we skipped most of these, the list went on and on. We spent hours and hours just observing the ever-changing sea, mesmerizing, really. High point of the cruise was definitely the slow, dramatic, all-afternoon trip up the narrow, glacial fiord, Tracy Arm. The scenery is hard to describe, large-scale, primeval, with floating blue ice, blue gray green cliffs, the occasional sea mammals, misty clouds, and in the distance the immense ice wall. Taking such a huge ship as Spirit into such a confined space is itself miraculous. Bring raincoats and fleece, and gloves if you plan to stand outside for any time---the temperature got quite windy-chilly. Overall, this experience was thrilling, honestly, and I am not an easily overwhelmed person. Here is my simple advice, if you can go, do so, absolutely! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
My wife and I were first time cruisers. We sailed in mid-July from Seattle to Alaska. Overall we had a great time and enjoyed our trip. One of the highlights was sitting the hot tub on the pool deck, sipping margaritas and watching ice ... Read More
My wife and I were first time cruisers. We sailed in mid-July from Seattle to Alaska. Overall we had a great time and enjoyed our trip. One of the highlights was sitting the hot tub on the pool deck, sipping margaritas and watching ice flows go by in Tracy Arm Fjord. Was that cool or what? The biggest bummer was listening to seasoned cruisers who were accustomed to the way other lines did things. Probably their biggest complaint was Freestyle dining. More about that later. Since we had no frame of reference, it seemed fine to us. We were sorry to see our week on with NCL end. EMBARKATION - Fairly orderly but quite slow. Another couple arrived around noon and zipped right on the ship. We followed instructions and showed up at 1pm and waited an hour to get onboard. The non-Latitudes lines where kind of like waiting for a ride a Disney World. PUBLIC AREAS - Very nice!!! The ship is very attractive. The only area we didn't care for was the casino. That's because we're non-smokers and we were forced to be second hand smokers to spend any length of time in there. Every other area of the ship was great. CABIN - We had a balcony cabin. It was definitely the way to go to Alaska since there is so much to see all of the time. Because of jet lag we woke up at 5am on the first morning, but since we were passing Campbell River, BC it was not a bad thing. It's amazing to see how close the ship passes to shore in the inside passage. Cabin was comfortable and we had enough closet, drawer and cubby hole space. Bathroom was larger and nicer than most ships I'm told. I guess it will be the standard against which we'll measure all other cruise. FITNESS & RECREATION - The gym was limited to a few bikes, treadmills and stair steppers as well as free weights. I would have also preferred an elliptical machine or two. Walking track, basketball court and golf cages were good. VALUE FOR PRICE - It seemed reasonable when compared to other cruise lines we investigated. The automatic tipping was fine, since it's at least what we would have given. I didn't sense any drop in service because of it. The only thing about value is that NCL seemed a bit like Disney World in their effort to drain dollars from your account. Just about everything seemed a bit overpriced including drinks, bingo and the incessant promotion of "crackits". DINING - Generally pretty good. We mostly ate in Windows and a few times in Raffles. My only observations are that Freestyle dining might at times be more like free-for-all dining. The serving staff lacked much personality, except for Christina Hemek, who was really great and helpful. The waiters were generally good, though a few were a bit over the top. One even asked us to give him a good rating on the comment cards. I might have, if he had been better than some of the others. The Maitre d', was quite attentive. We quickly learned that sitting near the windows meant there wouldn't be much conversation at larger tables due to engine or propeller noise and vibration. Since we were on an Alaska cruise, more Alaska fare seemed in order but missing. Salmon one night, but never any halibut or king crab legs. Raffles was usually crowded and not well managed in terms of directing guests. Also it closed at 11:30pm, so late night snacks were limited. Many desserts in Raffles lacked flavor, though they looked good. ENTERTAINMENT - The shows were excellent. The NCL players and band were very entertaining. The individual acts were less so. The comedian was not my cup of tea. and the magician was so-so. The singer on Thursday night was okay but a bit full of herself. The theatre was very nice. The Chocoholic event was awesome. We had to got to Raffles afterward to get milk to offset the chocolate. SERVICE – Our cabin stewards, Luis and Umbo, could not have been more attentive. They were great. When my large suitcase did not fit under the bed, they cheerfully stored it in their locker and returned it on Friday. Service everywhere else was pleasant. SHORE EXCURSION – We did the Misty Fjord boat in Ketchikan, deluxe glacier and city tour in Juneau and White Pass RR in Skagway. These were all great experiences. If you do the White Pass RR, stand on the platform to take pictures. I did ask the White Pass folks how much a ticket costs and found it was $10 cheaper than what NCL charged (see above about value and being like Disney World). Prince Rupert was a downer. Not much to do there that we hadn’t already done better in Alaska. We took a $1 bus trip where the head of the Chamber of Commerce gave the guided tour talk. Great value but not much to see. Seems like the Spirit could have gone to Sitka or somewhere better than PR. OVERALL – Even though a few things could have been done better, we really enjoyed this cruise and the Spirit. We’re thinking of taking another cruise next year to the Caribbean. Since we don’t want to travel to NY, I guess it won’t be on the Spirit. I hope it is as enjoyable as our Alaska trip was. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
It will definitely be hard to cruise on Carnival Lines again after our experience with the Norwegian Cruise Lines. What a fabulous trip and a very nice ship the Spirit was. Embarkation went very smooth. Much better than the Miami port! ... Read More
It will definitely be hard to cruise on Carnival Lines again after our experience with the Norwegian Cruise Lines. What a fabulous trip and a very nice ship the Spirit was. Embarkation went very smooth. Much better than the Miami port! From start to finish it only too a 1/2 hour before we were in our room unpacking. We had a balcony room which is the only way to go to Alaska. To be able to enjoy the Glaciers on your own private balcony was fabulous. Don't worry, you see both sides. One on the way in and one on the way back. The cabin was great! We had plenty of room for the 3 of us. We had a queen bed and our daughter had a twin sofa sleeper bed. The cabin steward put a waffle pad on our bed and it was VERY comfortable. The bathroom was a good size and the shower was great. If you have lots of things to hang, bring some wire hangers. I even left a few for the next guests. I had been warned about that before we left home. The cruise line can use some help with the night time shows. I must say that Carnival and Royal Caribbean lines have much better ships entertainment! But that was not that big a deal to us as we didn't care if we saw the shows or not. The movies were great both on our tv and at the movie theater. We only dined in the Windows and Garden Rooms. Service overall was very good. If you had plans, you just needed to let them know you were in a hurry to eat and it didn't become an all night affair. We enjoyed the free style dining. I wouldn't want it any other way. We only waited 15 minutes at the most. AND if they give you a buzzer to let you know when your table is ready you can even go back to your room or anywheres else on the ship as it reaches all over. So sitting on the stairs was really dumb for some of the guests! The hot tub at the rear of the ship was the best place to go! It wasn't crowded there at all and you could get in any time. The ones by the main pool were much more crowded but enjoyable as well. The ship was spic and span. Very clean. The help was very very friendly! We were pleasantly surprised. Raffles was good for breakfast when you didn't want to spend a lot of time for breakfast. We were anxious to go into the ports on the days we arrived early. The teen program was awesome. My 17 year old had a blast and met some great teens with the same interests. It was the best vacation she had!! I had booked the dog sledding adventure in Juno a couple of months prior to the cruise. Somehow the cruise lines screwed this one up and we didn't get to go. A few other cruisers had the same problem. They put us in the group to go at Skagway and that was cancelled due to low clouds. So that part of the cruise was really a big disappointment. I think they need to work on their shore excursions. We did the Discovery Island in Prince Rupert and that was the biggest rip off. I wouldn't recommend anyone to do that excursion. In fact, Prince Rupert was a total waste of time to visit. I wish we had gone to Victoria BC or another port that would have given us more opportunities. I guess the cruise line is paid off very well to make Prince Rupert a stop! Doesn't make sense to do that port! There is nothing there!!! We had a 1:00 flight at SeaTac. We got the dark green luggage tags at the front desk so we could be assured of making our flight. Needless to say we were at the airport by 9 a.m.!!! I had been told that it would take much more time. We got a local taxi for a total of $45 to go to the airport. We would definitely cruise again on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We were on the Norwegian Spirit inside passage cruise from Seattle to Alaska on July 16 - 23, 2005. We thoroughly enjoyed this as our first cruise and would recommend Norwegian Spirit without reservation. Boarding and Debarkation: We ... Read More
We were on the Norwegian Spirit inside passage cruise from Seattle to Alaska on July 16 - 23, 2005. We thoroughly enjoyed this as our first cruise and would recommend Norwegian Spirit without reservation. Boarding and Debarkation: We took the Norwegian shuttle from the Seattle airport to the wharf without incident. The Norwegian representatives were readily identifiable and the walk to the shuttle bus was easily manageable after we had checked our bags for transport to the ship. At the wharf we were checked in efficiently and were on board within about 30 minutes after we arrived there. In Ketchikan we encountered a lengthy line (maybe a hundred or so passengers) to reboard the ship because we waited until the last half-hour or so to come in, but this wasn't a problem in the other ports where we came back a little earlier. Security seemed good with recorded pictures and ship-issued ID cards used at the boarding gangway. We waited as instructed for debarkation when we returned to Seattle and were able to leave the ship in a timely fashion for return to the airport. Stateroom: Our stateroom was quite adequate in size for two. We had a queen bed, small sitting area and a private balcony in our room, and an adequate sized bath and shower. Water pressure was a little low at times but hot water was always adequate (once we figured out how to adjust the controls). Shelf, drawer and closet space were adequate for two, but no more. The bed was quite comfortable. Service from the stewards was good although we really didn't ask for anything extra. Food: We found the food at lunch and dinner in the two regular restaurants, Windows and the Garden Room, to be generally excellent. Service varied and was sometimes a little slow, but not enough so to detract noticeably from the meal. We ate all our dinners in either Windows or the Garden Room. Food in the Raffles lunch buffet was not as good as in the two restaurants, but it was acceptable. There were always several choices for main courses and there was generally a carving station with roast beef, roast turkey, roast port loin, etc. Desserts were good, and included sugar-free options. They had a very good flan one day, and anyone that serves good flan is OK in my book. I would say it was comparable to the sort of buffet you find at many Chinese restaurants in the U.S. these days. The salad line could have been improved by providing diced chicken or ham to add to a chef's salad as is popular in many restaurants. Seating was a little crowded at times but we were always able to find a decent table. We ate breakfast at Raffles each day because it was convenient to do so. The omelet station was good but could get crowded. The buffet line always had plenty of scrambled eggs, link sausage, bacon, smoked salmon and etc., although sometimes not as warm from the steam table as you would like. They had decent grits – important if you are from the South! Room service was available but we didn’t use it. We didn’t try the specialty restaurants since Windows and the Garden Room seemed to fill our needs and avoided extra cover charges. We didn’t sign up for the unlimited soft drink option (about $45 for the week for one person) and felt like we came out about the same in terms of the cost of wine at dinner plus a few cokes that my wife drank. I usually drank coffee or hot chocolate which was always available, although the coffee wasn’t the best I have had, usually a little strong and bitter (I usually diluted it down a little with hot water from the coffee station). On-Board Facilities and Entertainment: We concentrated on enjoying the views and shore excursions and didn’t use the casinos or bars, so can’t comment there. The steam room/sauna facility was small but very good, with good temperature, plenty of towels and private lockers. A jogging track was available on the upper deck, and the promenade deck was good for walking. An excellent singing group called Love Brothers and Lira provided after dinner entertainment with mostly 60’s to 80’s era music (I think) at the Deck 8 bar in the central atrium. There was only seating for about 30 to 40 people there, so we stood to listen after dinner, but it was OK for a couple of sets or so. Ship and Crew: The ship was attractively designed and easy to get around in. It was quite stable even when we went into the Pacific west of Vancouver Island (3 to 6 foot swells?) and you had to study the rail and horizon to detect any roll, etc. Spirit was clean and appeared to be well-maintained. The service personnel, restaurant waiters and stateroom stewards were all very pleasant and helpful at all times. Alcohol hand washing stations were used at entries to all restaurant/buffet areas for personal decontamination prior to entering the dining areas. Bottom Line: Overall, we were very pleased with our experience and would sail again on Norwegian Spirit. We have seen a number of other cruise reviews that were critical of the cruise experience on Norwegian Spirit with reference to food quality, lengths of waits and lines and other specifics, but this was not our experience. Maybe we weren’t as picky as some since this was our first cruise experience, but we felt that the ship, the cruise, on-board service and amenities were all highly acceptable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We, our family of three (with an almost ten year old daughter), flew into Seattle the morning of the cruise and was met at the airport by our driver from Townpointe Limousine..what a great company! We arrived at the ship around 1:00 p.m. ... Read More
We, our family of three (with an almost ten year old daughter), flew into Seattle the morning of the cruise and was met at the airport by our driver from Townpointe Limousine..what a great company! We arrived at the ship around 1:00 p.m. and boarded the ship quickly. The Latitudes line was no line at all. We were processed and was checking out our balcony cabin within fifteen minutes. Since we woke up that morning at 3:00 a.m. in SC and lost three hours, we were all pretty tired and looked even worse. But, we freshened up and headed to Raffles for a quick bite to eat. The drill was painless and the fastest I have experienced cruising. Cabin - The cabin seemed small to us at first..with three people, but it grows the longer you are there. The balcony was a must for Alaska, and it was enjoyed throughout the week. During the trip to glacier, we sat outside on the balcony, drank coffee, and ate soup we retrieved from Raffles. Being on the port side of the boat gave us an awesome view. We didn't miss a thing. The bathroom of the cabin was great. The shower was larger than most ships, and the glass door was a nice bonus. The room was always kept clean and stocked with coffee and ice. Restaurants- We ate in Windows, the Garden Room, Raffles and Le Bistro. One night, the kids club had a dinner for the children, so we chose that night to eat in Le Bistro. The chocolate fondue was well worth the extra charge. We had two members of the wait staff to ourselves the entire dinner. We were spoiled. Windows is absolutely beautiful! A couple nights we did sit near the windows, and yes it was a little noisy, but the view made it worth it. The Garden Room is a more intimate atmosphere. The wonderful added bonus to our trip was that the Philadelphia Boys Choir was traveling on our ship. They serenaded the entire group in the Garden Room during our dinner. Now, that is what I call special service! Raffles was the best buffet we have experienced on a cruise ship. The breakfast was wonderful. The last night of our cruise we decided to dress down, pack our bags, and eat dinner in Raffles. This was "italian night" and they had a pasta bar where they cooked your pasta with your chosen ingredients. This was actually pretty good. Entertainment - We didn't catch all of the shows, but we did see Dave Heenan on one night, and we just didn't "get" his humor. But, we saw Adam Ace both nights. OH MY GOSH...I laughed so hard at his shows I hurt! When we saw that he was also going to be participating in the "Liars' Club", we had to go. And, he was just as funny then. I hope to see him famous one day. I would love to catch his act again. The only "production" show we saw was "Grease Lightning." Our daughter loves Grease, and so she loved the music. Excursions - In Ketchikan, we saw the Lumberjack Show and shopped the remainder of the time. The show was good, and our daughter really enjoyed it even more than we did. I just loved this town. And, the weather was in the high eighties and beautiful..what a great day. In Juneau, we were on the Mendenhall Glacier and Gardens tour. It was cold and wet that day, and that just took a little away from our excursion. But, that was to be expected. The scenery was breath taking. In Skagway, we did the train and gold dredge tour. The train trip was awesome! The gold dredge was short and not too much of a thrill for me. But, if you have a little one that wants to "pan for gold" this would be a good opportunity. In Prince Rupert...well...it is a good time to stretch your legs. We visited a few of the shops and then walked around town. We enjoyed the walk and the exercise. I agree with Koga...this one will probably not remain on the schedule. Service - The Spirit has this polished and working well. We were pampered and spoiled the entire week. The wait staff remembered our favorite wine by the third night. They knew my daughter loved pasta, soup, and vanilla ice cream. We had the sweetest waitress in Windows, Sonali. She stopped and spoke with us every time we were in the restaurant. She will be going to the Jewel very soon, but if you see her tell her that you heard someone speaking very highly of her. She is just the best. Casino - I do not understand the table games enough to play them, so we stuck with the slot machines. I took the advice of someone on the boards about playing the penny slots with the "train." What fun this was. I would put in my three dollars, and when I was up to ten dollars, cash out, and play that in the quarter slots. It usually worked out this way. So, I walked away about $80 to the good. Not too bad. I am not a big gambler, so this system kept me feeling "quilt free." Well, I think I have said enough for now. You cannot go wrong with the Spirit. I miss her already! Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
On June 11, we sailed on the NCL Spirit out of Seattle to Alaska. This was the seventh cruise for my wife and I and our first on NCL. My mother joined us. She had been on NCL for a few of her many cruises all over the world, but she had ... Read More
On June 11, we sailed on the NCL Spirit out of Seattle to Alaska. This was the seventh cruise for my wife and I and our first on NCL. My mother joined us. She had been on NCL for a few of her many cruises all over the world, but she had never cruised to Alaska. This was also the first stay in a balcony cabin for my wife and I due to a good deal ($750/person for a balcony guarantee) we picked up about 7 weeks before sailing from an internet provider. Our cabin was assigned within a week of the purchase -- cabin 11632 -- deck 11, port side. My mother was on deck 5 with a window cabin. We stayed over the night before at the Red Lion Seattle South for $49. They provide free 24 hour airport shuttle, and they shuttled all 3 of us to the port for $25. We had e-tickets, so the first thing we had to do at the port was find the luggage tags. We brought along return address labels to save time. I can't add much to what others have said about the Spirit. It is, perhaps, the best ship we have been on for the following reasons: a theater with comfortable seats and no posts to block sight lines, a small movie theater with a large screen and comfortable seating, The waffles, complete athletic facilities including two individual swim tanks and 4 golf driving cages with clubs provided, a room for viewing the bridge, color-coded elevators (I only got lost one time), a beautiful atrium without being overdone, an exceptionally pleasant staff, a wide variety of dining venues, THE WAFFLES. All of our other cruises have been to the Caribbean and along the western coast of Mexico. The Alaska cruise through the inside passage was a much different experience. I was up very early those first few mornings so as not to miss any of the scenery as we wound our way through narrow passages. It seemed there was always something to look at. It reminded me of the wilderness areas I have visited in northern Minnesota, but on a much grander scale. Although I had heard about the views and seen the pictures, there really is no way to understand and appreciate Alaska without the personal experience. The trip up Tracy arm, with huge chunks of ice bumping off the side of the boat, winding our way through narrow channels with towering, snow-covered peaks on either side, was truly the highlight of the trip. When we pulled into Ketchikan, our first stop, we found ourselves with a great view of the city from our balcony. Just a block from the dock, we attended the lumberjack show. It was good theater and well worth the price of admission. We picked up a city guide at the visitor's center and used coupons for $1 tee-shirts, wooden claws (for scooping pasta or salad -- a big souvenir item) and a chopping knife (held by security when we returned to the boat). As we pulled into Juneau, we received a call from home telling us my wife's father had died in his sleep. We went ahead with our plans for the day as our daughter began making travel arrangements. We took a free shuttle bus from the dock into the tourist section (a five minute ride) where there were several booths offering a variety of excursions similar to those offered through the ship. We signed up for the $10 bus to Mendenhall glacier. Again, it is impossible to appreciate the immensity and stunning beauty without standing there, looking up at a wall of ice that seems to go on forever. Back in Juneau, we went to the library to use their free internet access to check in with home, and we decided my wife would stay until Prince Rupert and fly from there through Vancouver, and I would stay on board with my mother, but leave early out of Seattle while she stayed through Wednesday as we had planned to do. The next day was Skagway where we rented a car from Avis for a drive across Whitehorse pass to Emerald lake. The coast of Alaska was shrouded in mist and clouds throughout our trip, but the eastern side of the pass was sunny and warm. We stopped often to take pictures and bask in the sun and gaze up at towering peaks lined with snow. The internet cafe in Skagway is also the only gas station and the laundromat. It was crowded with ships' crew members and cost just $4 per hour. We went to a half price souvenir shop off on one of the side streets and an outlet store near the end of the main street with the lowest priced souvenirs we found in Alaska. All three of the Alaska stops had many of the same jewelry stores we have seen in the Caribbean. That was not the case in Prince Rupert, Canada. Again in Prince Rupert, the port side of the ship was dockside, and we had a great view of the city. When we pulled in, there were as many as 30 bald eagles in trees near the dock, diving for fish beside a cannery. Although we often see bald eagles when we visit northern Minnesota, this was spellbinding. They often passed just a few feet from our balcony. The shops in the dock area sell primarily native art and crafts rather than jewelry and souvenirs. There is a Safeway just a few blocks from the dock and a mall just a few blocks beyond that for those who feel a need to shop, but I found a hidden garden through a tunnel within a block of the ship and, after seeing my wife off at the hotel where she boarded a bus to the airport, I took some time to wonder through the flowers. I also found a hidden internet cafe on the second floor of a popular bar/restaurant named Beakers. I cannot begin to express my appreciation to the Spirit crew members who helped us through a difficult situation as we adjusted our departure plans. The officers and staff at the pursers desk were kind and generous with their time as they provided us with various alternatives for debarkation and information about the process we would need to follow to clear immigration. At Prince Rupert, the immigration officer escorted us off the ship, then offered to give us a ride to the hotel to catch the bus. At Seattle, I was able to carry my luggage off, get a cab, and make a 9:30 flight. My wife and I agree, although we generally prefer new experiences, we hope to cruise to Alaska again, and we hope we have an opportunity to sail on the Spirit again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
I read A LOT of reviews about NCL and The Spirit before we cruised, and found the most helpful reviews were those which highlighted the best and worst of their experience. Therefore, I will summarize my experience using the same rating ... Read More
I read A LOT of reviews about NCL and The Spirit before we cruised, and found the most helpful reviews were those which highlighted the best and worst of their experience. Therefore, I will summarize my experience using the same rating categories on Cruise Critic with the hope this review will help you have a great cruise... just like the one we just came home from! I'll also highlight those things I found very special and would recommend. EMBARKATION: It could not have been much easier (unless they just let us walk on the ship). HINT: We did arrive fairly early before any lines may have formed. We arrived at the SEA-TAC airport about 9:30 a.m. We asked an NCL sign-holder where to find the buses where we could buy our own ticket (and not have to pay more by booking through NCL). We found the desk for this bus inside the building near the door next to the #1 luggage pick-up station. You can buy a Gray-Line one-way ticket to Pier 66 at Bell Street for $12 p/p. After you get your ticket, be sure you ask around and get the right bus line to stand in, because we stood in the wrong line at first. The bus came about 10 and we arrived at the pier about 10:45 a.m. We went straight through the lines to get our boarding pass... and then about 11:30 a.m. they started letting people board. By about noon, we were on the ship and soon after in our room. Lunch was available at the Raffles buffet and at the beautiful Windows restaurant. HINT: Go to Windows, it was not busy and the service and food are great! I enjoyed the skirt-steak. PUBLIC ROOMS: This was our 5th cruise, and our 5th cruise line, and The Spirit is the most beautiful and clean ship we have enjoyed. I liked it better than the Disney Magic which is also a beautiful ship. The Windows restaurant had a great atmosphere: Grand and lavish. The Garden restaurant is beautiful and elegant. The lobby is expansive and impressive. The smaller restaurants are intimate and detailed well (we tried the Teppanyaki and Le Bistro). The 24 hour snack bar (Blue Lagoon is small and a LOT of foot traffic has to walk through the small dining room). The Galaxy of the Stars is a nice place to view the cruise from the front (forward) of the ship. The Kids Club in the back (aft) of the ship looked great. I think our kids would have loved it (if they had been with us). I enjoyed the library and game room. The pool area is really beautiful and if you get good weather, you will enjoy the deck. Though our ship was full (I was told there were over 2,000 people on board with another 950 crew -- the ship did not seem crowded or packed.) CABIN: We are not big on cabins for cruising -- and being on a budget we try to get the lesser priced rooms. When we booked we could not get an inside cabin, so we took the lowest priced outside and ended up being upgraded one floor to Deck 5, Forward, on the left (port) side. It was fine. Our room had a porthole, and you really cannot see much from these -- so if you want a view, be sure to get a higher category room with a picture window, or a balcony. FITNESS/RECREATION: I used the bicycle machines and the hot tub. They are just what you might expect. Good enough for a simple workout. The gym is small with stair-climbing, bicycle, and treadmill machines. Weights are also available. I'm no health nut, so this place was fine for me. There are four beautiful and large hot tubs/Jacuzzis by the pool. DINING: For me, this is the most "important" part of the cruise. Neither my wife nor I are people who just eat for the sake of eating. We enjoy the flavors and variety of different foods. We were not disappointed. In the Le Bistro, you pay a $15 p/p service charge and can order from a simple menu of about 5 different appetizers, main courses and desserts. We enjoyed the filet mignon. The chocolate fondue is REALLY RICH... deep dark chocolate with some milk added for a creamy texture. Fresh fruit is served in a carved out pineapple... there is lots of chocolate, so after you finish the fruit you can stick your face in the pot and suck out the rest! The service throughout the ship was great and it goes a step up in the specialty restaurants. The Teppanyaki was ok... the food is very good, but I was not all that impressed. If I could do it over again, I would have skipped the Teppanyaki and tried Maxims. But even though not the greatest, it was still worth the extra charges (you pay a-la-carte prices in Teppanyaki - I tried the fish combo and my wife had the filet mignon -- I'd recommend the filet). In the main dining room, the food was wonderful as well. APPETIZER SUGGESTION: Tuna tartare; melons in vermouth sauce; fried calimari. MAIN COURSE SUGGESTION: I especially liked the Beef Wellington and the Seafood Risotto. The beef items always seemed to be well prepared throughout the main restaurants. DESSERT SUGGESTION: The desserts on the ship are marvelous. Chocolate-Pecan cream cake, which was more like a brownie, but was just wonderful. The toffee-coffee parfait cake was also wonderful. If you like sherbet, try the Kiwi flavor -- it was really nice. They may change the menus, so you can check each day at the restaurants to see the menus before the meals are served. They did have special 2-for-1 prices for Le Bistro and Shogun, (the Asian restaurant -- we did not try that one) but only from 8:30 p.m. -- 10 p.m. HINT: If you eat in a main restaurant before 6:30 p.m. you will probably not have to wait -- we never did. There are a number of large flat-screen monitors around the ship that tell you how full each restaurant is. So if the line-graph gets to yellow, you better head to the restaurant, or plan for a wait. SUGGESTION: The Chocoholic Bar was held on Friday afternoon. We could take pictures at 1:30 - 2:15 p.m., and then you could go and eat from the bar from 2:30 - 3:30. We waited in line before the doors opened so we would not have to wait in line after it started. It was worth it... and from what I saw, the people at the end of the line also had plenty to eat... but you will want to see it before the hoards devour it -- it is beautifully displayed in the Moulin Rouge showroom. SUGGESTION: Raffles buffet is best as a quick-bite if you are in a hurry. But otherwise, why eat steamed food, when you can get it served fresh from the kitchen. There were some entrees like the smoked pork and fried fish at Raffles that were tasty. But a lot of the food was just your everyday buffet filler. Desserts at Raffles (just like all around the ship) were very good. ENTERTAINMENT: First, the best was Jane Powell. I loved her show. My wife and I went to the first show at 7:30 p.m., and I liked it so much I went back to the 9:30 p.m. show and was very pleasantly surprised to see a totally different show. She has a great voice with tremendous vocal range and style. "A+." The rest of the entertainment was downhill, in my estimation. Adam Ace was a funny show (his humor is about one-half frenetic activity and one-half bathroom humor. He does refer to sexual organs often, so parents may want to be careful.) The other comedian was not even funny (in my estimation, and we walked out). The production company was just ok... and to be honest, I really did not like it very much. The plus side of entertainment was in the bars and lounges. I enjoyed the duo, called Pryme Tyme; and the soloist, Ariel. The ship's band is very good, as were the other singers and instrumentalists. I don't dance, but if I did, I would guess the music was very good from these people. The "singing conductor" (Steve Hite) who comes on the ship for a short show in Skagway is worth it - I enjoyed him. SERVICE: Our room stewards were pretty anonymous, but did a great job. The whole ship's crew was polite, well-trained, and always ready to serve. I don't remember ever having any better service on any other ship. SHORE EXCURSIONS: SUGGESTIONS: In Juneau we took the Tracy Arm Glacier Excursion. This was the best excursion I have ever been on. You get on a smaller boat (catamaran) and it leaves for Tracy Arm an hour before the ship leaves Juneau. This little boat must go faster than the Spirit because we had plenty of time to see the sights in Tracy Arm before we linked up with the Spirit later. The boat's captain stopped along the way to see a humpback whale. The naturalists on board were fun and informative... and most all the sights were so gorgeous. We came right up to a waterfall where a light spray went over the ship. We saw bald eagles, harbor seals with their pups and a young brown bear. But the highlight was the up close view of Sawyer Glacier. HINT: If you only stay on the Spirit, you will see the Sawyer Glacier from a distance that depends on the ice flow that day. Our little boat got up to about 1/4 mile from the north side of Sawyer Glacier and we saw two large calvings (when the glacier splits off a large segment of ice or iceberg). It was a great sight and sound, and our boat was rocked by the waves caused by the glacier's calving. Our other excursion was the Canoe and Rainforest adventure in Ketchikan. We enjoyed this very much as well, even though it was raining -- but that's why it's a rainforest! Downside: Prince Rupert -- not much to see or do. If it is a pretty day, you might enjoy the short walk to the park that overlooks the dock and enjoy the view of the harbor. Other than that -- there really isn't much. The cruise line has to stop at a "foreign" port because of some legality.... but they apparently can't all go to Vancouver or Victoria. So this might be a good day to relax on the ship and check out a book. OVERALL: This was a joyful week to celebrate our anniversary. Not everything was "perfect" but it was a special week. The Freestyle approach appeals to me -- I liked my other cruises, but the freestyle eating and other amenities fit our habits. It was nice to be able to eat when we wanted and where we wanted. It was also simpler than the other way of cruising. I believe that most people will have plenty to enjoy on the NCL Spirit. Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
This was our first cruise so I can't compare it with ones on other lines. We flew into Seattle the day before our ship left and I recommend that everyone go at least one day ahead. We arrived at the cruise terminal about 12:15 p.m. ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I can't compare it with ones on other lines. We flew into Seattle the day before our ship left and I recommend that everyone go at least one day ahead. We arrived at the cruise terminal about 12:15 p.m. and we onboard by 1:00 p.m. It was easy and so quick! The sailaway party was so much fun, the bbq was good and watching Seattle fade away was so touching. The ship is beautiful and very well kept. We have a balcony cabin very aft and it was fine. We met our room stewards right when we got to our cabin and they were wonderful to us the entire trip. I can't say enough good things about them. My husband was sick a few days toward the end of the cruise and the room stewards came and checked on him two times. They noticed that the do not disturb sign had been on the door all day. They asked if they could get him anything and also asked if he needed the doctor. Each night on our bed was a new towel animal and a piece of chocolate along with the next days dailies. They kept our cabin spotless. We found all the staff to be exceptional, always friendly and always willing to help. The food was good. The buffet had plenty of variety and the only *bad* thing about it was that it was often crowded and tables were not cleaned off and the food was not real hot. But we liked the food. The waffle station and omelet station were great, sandwich bar and salads great at lunch and the ice cream bar for anytime was fun! They had different themes.. like Mexican, Italian, Chinese, etc. One certainly never is hungry on a cruise .:) You can take your food outside and eat on Raffles Terrace. That was really fun because it was a bit less crowded at peak times and the weather was great. The main dining rooms were lovely and it was fun to go to them. The food was excellent the times we went. Try the crepes suzette. On my birthday we ordered the chocolate souffle from room service and ate it and drank coffee on the balcony as we entered Tracey Arm. Life is GOOD! We were lucky enough to be able to go to a Meet and Greet. It was really fun meeting the people and we would run into them again off and on all week. They were great and the cruise director, Mike was there to talk to us. Entertainment was great and we really loved it all. Jane L. Powell sang mid week and again two nights later. DO NOT miss her performances. All the shows by NCL and the comics were really entertaining and the theatre is lovely. The bands were fun too as was the staff show and the passenger talent show. We were blessed with good weather the entire week. Cruising up the inside passage was beautiful and we saw whales (orcas and humpbacks), sea lions and eagles and seals from the ship. We only went on two shore excursions. We went with Capt. Larry out of Juneau whale watching. It was AWESOME!!!! And we took the White Pass railroad in Skagway. Scenery and history was great! The trip up Tracey Arm is something we will never forget. We were able to get up to Sawyer Island before having to turn around because of ice. We were blessed to have great weather and to get that close. Words can not describe the beauty. Sunsets we lovely all week and we took above 300 pictures on this trip. Bring lots of film or memory cards and extra batteries. We stayed up late and got up early. All that sunlight! :) We want to cruise again as soon as possible and want to stick with NCL. We love the concept of freestyle. We loved that there was so much one could choose from to eat and also all the activities onboard. Disembarkation went so smoothly that we were at our hotel in Seattle by 10 a.m. We stored our luggage and toured the downtown area near where we stayed and Pike Place Market and the piers on foot. Oh my.... we walked and walked and walked. We live in the mountains of Colorado and although I wanted to go on a cruise, the Alaska destination was really for my husband. I thought that a mountain was basically a mountain, was a mountain. Was I EVER wrong!!!! The scenery in Alaska is so pristine and awe inspiring. The Spirit is a beautiful ship and our cruise was the best time ever!!! I hope you all enjoy yours as much. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
We boarded the ship in less than 15 minutes!! This was a beautiful ship..... and the number of passengers was small enough that it didn't seem over-crowded. Our cabin was wonderful--- refrigerator and a roomy sitting area. We had ... Read More
We boarded the ship in less than 15 minutes!! This was a beautiful ship..... and the number of passengers was small enough that it didn't seem over-crowded. Our cabin was wonderful--- refrigerator and a roomy sitting area. We had a private balcony that was a nice place to sit and read while under way. (Oops ... I made a mistake above... this room was on the 10th level, not Deck 9). FOOD WAS EXCELLENT !! We had so many dining areas to choose from, but our favorite was the buffet with an endless variety of tasty foods to choose from. Sometimes we ate inside, but usually we filled a plate and walked out to the open-air dining area at the back.... A relaxing and beautiful setting for our meals !! Entertainment was first-class. Crew and service staff was very courteous, friendly, and efficient... absolutely NO complaints. You are able to see the bridge through big windows. The Captain had personality-plus, and was often seen talking with guests. On one occasion he appeared next to us, and handed me his binoculars to view the eagles in the trees. Ports of call were all fabulous. My favorite was Skagway-- so picturesque! I also enjoyed Juneau, Ketchikan, and Prince Rupert. There were many things to see in each city, and lots of photo opportunities everywhere we looked. Don't miss the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. It isn't necessary to book an excursion for this. City tour buses run often, and I think the price was under $10 R/T. The ship travels up a fiord amidst icebergs after leaving Skagway. Big and little seals were sitting on most of them... so cute! At the end of the fiord we arrived at a majestic glacier-- wow! I saw several whales, the seals, and many birds (lots of bald eagles) during the trip. On the trip back we passed hundreds of seals on one rocky area of the shoreline. Sailing was smooth. The weather was warm-- I could wear shorts every day. We had rain the last day, but we were at sea above Vancouver Island so it didn't matter. Dress was casual mostly. A few people dressed formally one evening. This is also a family-friendly cruise itinerary..... great for children. There is something for all ages to enjoy on this trip. The scenery is breath-taking. I had never wanted to travel to Alaska, but now I am planning to take this cruise again in about 2 years with friends. Disembarkation was efficient and easy..... but we didn't really want to leave !!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Mom and I (1st time cruisers) booked a balcony guarantee cabin 3 weeks before our May 21st sailing date after seeing an unbelievable deal on the internet. Because we sailed for such a great price my opinions are based on value for $$. A ... Read More
Mom and I (1st time cruisers) booked a balcony guarantee cabin 3 weeks before our May 21st sailing date after seeing an unbelievable deal on the internet. Because we sailed for such a great price my opinions are based on value for $$. A cruiser paying full-price may have had more reason to be critical or unsatisfied. The ship, food, staff and ports all met or exceeded our expectations. My #1 advise for all cruisers is IF YOU'RE NOT HAPPY SPEAK UP - IF YOU NEED SOMETHING SPEAK UP - most problems can be resolved (don't just complain or criticise later) NCL Spirit is a spectacular ship. This is a great link to some excellent photos of the Spirit - all areas were wonderful - Grand Centrum, Casino, Movie House, Moulin Rouge, Disco, Galaxy of the Stars and Pool deck. Our cabin was a BA category mid-ship. Plenty of room for 2. Room stewards were great. They seemed to put in 20hr days - would see them at breakfast and then at turndown in evening. If you need something just ask. We really found Freestyle dining to be the right choice for us. Some meals we ate at small tables by ourselves. Other times we joined larger tables and met some wonderful people from all over the world. Some nights we ate early and caught both shows in the Moulin Rouge. Other nights we had an afternoon snack and then ate late dinners. There were dozens of activities each day. Art auctions, movies, sushi making/health/craft seminars. No luck in the casino or at bingo. Musical productions were OK, comedians very good, performers at Champagne Charlies and Galaxy of the Stars were great. Themed events every night were really entertaining. Always something to do. Day 1: Arrived at pier around noon (drove from Vancouver to Seattle). Line #1 was to drop off baggage. Every bag was x-rayed. Moved quickly. Line #2 in terminal to check-in. Line for non-American passengers moved quickly. Line #3 to board ship was very long. I told Mom to stay in a seat while I stood in line as it snaked through the holding area. Finally got to final boarding area - had a bottle of wine in my carry-on bag (which was x-rayed)and paid the $15 corkage fee (added to shipboard account) Nothing said about 2 dozen cans of Pepsi also in carry-on bag (only Coke products onboard)... and then we were on the ship! Total time from arrival till onboard 1hr + 15mins - not bad at all. After checking our cabin (Freestyle Daily was in cabin giving lots of activity/dining info) we went to Raffles Buffet to get some lunch. Typical buffet - food not hot enough and bland tasting. Avoided Raffles as much as possible during remainder of cruise. Sailing was delayed 1hr due to late flights so the Bon Voyage BBQ didn't start till around 5:30. Drizzly outside but plenty of tables under cover. We had made reservations (2 for 1) at Shogun for dinner so we only checked out the BBQ - it looked great. Shogun was the only Specialty restaurant we tried - it was excellent. A little disappointed that sushi is a-la-carte - but very reasonably priced. Wandered the ship. All we could say was WOW! Saw people come to the Brig Room to claim their baggage which had been x-rayed at the port and appeared to have bottles in them. Ended most days relaxing in Galaxy of the Stars. Gorgeous scenery, great music and no pressure to order drinks. Day 2: At sea. Breakfast in Windows. The waiters seem surprised when you don't order a lot. We each ordered juice, smoked salmon & bagel and cappuccino. "Is that all?" - no danish, eggs, bacon??. Mom was off to the Ketchikan & Juneau port & shopping talk. I went to the wine tasting seminar. Lots of activities all day... Excellent burgers at Blue Lagoon for lunch. Mom ordered chicken at Windows for dinner - very plain and bland. Asked server for another main course - no problem. Rough seas during the night - very windy - ship was creaking quite a bit, glad it was during the night, would have been tough to walk around. Day 3: Ketchikan - Rainy till the afternoon. Slept in and was too late for breakfast in Windows. Tried Raffles - made-to-order omelet bar was great, other buffet items disappointing again. 3 other ships in port - lots of tourists. If you see a souvenir you like don't wait to see if its cheaper at the next port - may not see it again. No planned excursions - just wandered around. Called home from pay phone - can be long lines as crew members talk a long time when phoning home. Dinner at Garden - 1/2hr wait - was given a pager so we could go wherever we wanted while waiting. Day 4: Juneau - Booked whale watching with Captain Larry (Orca Enterprises). Saw 6-8 orcas and 2 humpbacks. Worth every $$. Back on board by 1:30 to cruise to Sawyer Glacier. We felt that the afternoon/evening spent in Tracy Arm was the highlight of the entire cruise. We spent the time on our balcony - we ordered nibblies from room service, drank the wine we had brought, chatted with the cruisers next door, watched view from the bow cam on the TV. It was spectacular! Whales/dolphins swam alongside the ship. Unfortunately, because of the amount of ice in the water we could only get as far as Sawyer Island. If I had known this in advance I probably would have booked the Tracy Arm & Glacier Explorer (instead of whale watching) You board a small boat in Juneau and cruise Tracy Arm - able to go much closer to Sawyer Glacier and then transfer back to the ship. Highly recommended by all. A friend cruised Tracy Arm in early July and her ship didn't get any closer to the glacier than we did in May which surprised me. I decided that FOR ME if I cruise Alaska in the future I would choose an itinerary which spends more time glacier/nature watching. The port towns/cities are interesting but I have all the Alaska souvenirs I will ever need. Late sushi dinner at Shogun. Small sushi menu but very friendly sushi guys were happy to make rolls that weren't on menu. Day 5: Skagway - Favorite port town. Wonderful sunny day spent wandering/shopping. Came back to ship for lunch. Dined with large mixed group. Had an interesting discussion with experienced cruisers at our table about pros & cons of Freestyle. The only con that they could think of was that you don't have the rapport/connection with the dining room staff that you'd have on a traditional cruise - same table/same waiter each meal. Day 6: Prince Rupert - Another beautiful sunny day. BBQ on deck before we arrived in PR - we saw some whales. Our ship was the 1st to cruise into PR this year and the town greeted us with an excellent welcome party. Large crowd waving as we docked, live entertainment. Not sure if they do this for every ship. I think most passengers were shopped/sight-seed out by this port. How many souvenirs does one need? Everything starts to look the same. As we departed at around 9:30PM the town was setting off fireworks which we could watch from Windows restaurant. We were dining with a great mixed group. All ages from Kentucky, New York and England. The couple from Kentucky asked for steak even though it wasn't on the menu - no problem. The woman from New York finished her main course and then order another - no problem. Day 7: At sea - We cruised the west side of Vancouver Island which was surprisingly calm. I had worried that it would be a rough day at sea but I was wrong. A beautiful sunny day - many people in the pools and hot tubs. I'm sure many were sunburned the next day! Set our suitcases in the hallway before going to bed. Day 8: Woke up in Seattle - very sad that our trip is done. Had breakfast in Windows and our group/colour was announced to disembark. We were off the boat, had a short delay finding our luggage (So many black suitcases!!)and through customs in less than 15 minutes. It was almost 80degrees in Seattle that day! Can't wait for the next cruise..... Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our 40th wedding anniversary trip and we wanted to try something special. We landed in Seattle and at the luggage claim were told to place our luggage with a company that takes it to the ship. They then tell you to go outside ... Read More
This was our 40th wedding anniversary trip and we wanted to try something special. We landed in Seattle and at the luggage claim were told to place our luggage with a company that takes it to the ship. They then tell you to go outside and purchase your tickets for the bus to the ship. Well, we found out you can check your luggage and take a taxi, which is what we would do if we had it to do over. They quoted us the wrong price on the inside and led us to believe we had to take their transportation. But, we found out that it really doesn't matter because the airport there requires that the luggage be checked and you can take your own transportation. We had to wait quite a while for a bus and then when we did get on the bus it seemed to take forever to get to the ship since our driver was new and drove very slow. This was no fault of Norwegians so don't blame them! When we arrived at the pier it was about 2:00 p.m. Embarkation was probably the fastest we have ever had with a cruise line. We are Latitudes members, but it really didn't seem to matter. They were ready and took care of us quickly. We went straight to our room and got settled in with our carry on luggage. Our room was nice. Not overly large, but very comfortable. After having read the other reviews, we asked for the eggshell and it definitely made the bed comfortable. We loved the roominess of the bathroom. We had been on the Star last winter and it was all very similar in layout. Closet space was very adequate. And, even though they only have a few drawers, we took advantage of the shelves in the closet. We then went up to the buffet to eat. It was nothing spectacular, but just a typical buffet. We enjoyed eating our lunch in the buffet because they have a deli bar that you can make your own subs which I thoroughly enjoyed. The desserts weren't that exciting, but if you go back up about 3:30 they have homemade cookies and pizza in the buffet area. The pizza was good and the cookies great! I would take several back to our room for a midnight snack. Our luggage arrived at our room quite quickly and we were able to get unpacked. We had no problem storing our large suitcases in the closet. You just have to be a little inventive! Anyone going on this ship has to get a balcony room. The inside passage is beautiful and you always have a view. It was just breathtaking all the time. Saturday evening we ate dinner in the Windows restaurant. They were offering prime rib and creme brulee for dessert. The restaurant is beautiful. We love the freestyle dining! We are early diners so we would get there about 15 minutes early. The first 10 couples get a table for two by the window. It is just so beautiful and romantic. Our waiters were top notch and so friendly. The food was very tasty and great! Sunday we went to the Windows for breakfast. It was nice but just you typical breakfast. The rest of the mornings we ate at the buffet. Their waffles with whipped cream were great. They also have a very nice omelet bar. We also ate in the Garden restaurant a couple of times and loved it. This ship seems to cater to couples and we loved that, but in the Windows if you were with a larger group they sat you in the back with an awesome view! One of the things we enjoyed was the specialty restaurants. We had tried them on the Star so thought we would try them again. On the Spirit they offered two for one price if you ate before 6:00 PM. You had to get your reservations in early. We found out you could make your reservations the day before so that is what we did. The Oriental restaurant was superb. The food was great and we tried things we had not tried before. As I said before our waiters and waitresses at every restaurant were great. We could not have been more pleased with the service. The French restaurant serves a wonderful steak. Their Caesar Salad is the best ever and their chocolate fruit fondue is phenomenal!!! The waiters had such great personalities and were so much fun. The Steakhouse was awesome!!! Our food was fantastic. It is on the smaller side but very open to the views and romantic. Again the servers were wonderful and it was great to not have to pay two cover charges. Since our jobs are ones where we are always dressed up, it was nice for a change to have such a casual freestyle atmosphere. The Blue Lagoon is a fun place to eat light. They have the best homemade tomato soup and hamburgers. Now about the ports. Our first stop was Ketchikan. We loved this stop. It was raining and chilly, but we had gone prepared for this so it didn't bother us. We are not ones to take many tours so we just shopped around town. The stores were just great and they had some pretty terrific prices. I bought most of my souvenirs here. They is also a nice internet cafe right on the pier. You can buy a card and use it also at Juneau and Skagway. Our next port was Juneau. Since we had read the reviews, we knew not to book our tours on the ship. They have buses waiting for you when you disembark to take you in to town. This is at no charge to you. Then when they drop you off they are dozens of booths with people trying to sell you tours. We had been told to take the bus for $10.00 each to the Mendenhall Glacier. We bought our tickets and had to wait about a half hour for the bus. This was fine because there are all kinds of shops to visit while waiting. The visit to Mendenhall was amazing. We were able to view the glacier and then took a walk to a beautiful waterfall. The waterfall was gorgeous and while standing at the base I was able to make calls on my cell phone. I had a full signal. I was shocked! We had to walk back up to the bus stop and wait a short while for the bus along with many others. The buses run every half hour so that is really great. We then went back to town and shopped a little more and then took a bus back to the ship since it had started raining again. The ship then went in to Tracy Arm and there is no way to describe how beautiful this scenery was. We wanted to get to the Sawyer Glacier, but there were too many ice floats in the water so we had to stop before we got there, although we were able to see it. I have a digital camera binoculars and got some wonderful pictures of it. Of course as I have said before, with having a balcony room, you can be outside or inside as much as you want and see everything. The views are unbelievable. We then went to Skagway. We did not take the train or any of the tours although I sort of wish we had. This city was probably my favorite because of its uniqueness. It is only 7 blocks long and the buildings are like a old west town with plank sidewalks. We had a great time just walking the town. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed the sunshine. The next day we went to Prince Rupert. This port does not have a lot to offer and I got off the ship just to walk around. The weather was lovely and everyone was enjoying not having to wear coats. We spent the next day at sea and were able to see whales. The seas were perfect so we did not get sick, although we had worn the patches to protect us. Again let me commend this ship on the friendliness of everyone. The entertainment shows in the theater were not that great and matter of fact after once it was enough. I heard others complaining about them also. Their comedian was a little off color for my taste and they singers were to pop for the age group on this ship. The tenor was very good but he didn't have much personality. What we did enjoy was going to Charlies Champagne Bar and listening to the nightly entertainment. The Love Brother and Laura were great and Rhyme Time which is a couple from Barbados were fantastic!! We thought these two groups were better than anything in the theater. I think many others thought so too since the one night I counted over 100 people listening. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone and this ship. I would't mind taking it again. I give it high ranking marks. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our first cruise. There were three of us: my parents and I. By far the best thing we had done was extensive research on cruises and Alaska - this made all the difference. We knew what to expect, many dos and don'ts. Many, ... Read More
This was our first cruise. There were three of us: my parents and I. By far the best thing we had done was extensive research on cruises and Alaska - this made all the difference. We knew what to expect, many dos and don'ts. Many, many thanks to all the CC'ers, especially on the NCL and Alaska boards for sharing their experiences and advice. Embarkation: We were there early - reached the cruise terminal at 12:00, and were on board before 1:30 (maybe sooner). We heard there was a glitch later, delaying embarkation due to three ships boarding that day, which delayed our sailing by an hour. This seemed to be outside NCL's control, and I did not hear anyone complain. There was a lively party as we cast off. Cabin: We loved having a balcony cabin. Our room steward and stewardess took excellent care of us, my mother loved the towel animals. We knew in advance we would not have a refrigerator and did not miss it. Food: We are from India and vegetarian, so we did not expect much variety available to us. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity (experienced cruisers may not be). We ate most meals in Raffles, they have ample stuff for vegetarian and actually had one Indian item every day. We loved Raffles ... at times it was crowded, but we never had to spend more than 15 minutes between entering and beginning our meal. Electronic displays over the ship show the occupancy (and wait times if any) for all the restaurants for those who care. We didn't bother - we could always take ou trays outside Raffles on the terrace or by the pool if it was crowded inside. We had one meal in Windows, and one in the Garden Room. Both were decent. The chocoholic buffet on the final day was impressive, make sure to get there early or there will be a long line. My parents' only complaint about the food was the weight they put on. Oh well, they went to the treadmills. Service: This exceeded our expectations by far! From the moment we boarded, we were always greeted with a smile. Several crew members would exchange the Indian greeting of namaste. The staff in Raffles were very helpful given our dietary preferences. When we went to Windows, our server went and got us a special Indian meal. We have no idea how she managed it - we hadn't even made any advance request. We had just asked her on entering if there was any day on which they served Indian food ... and she got us a fantastic meal right away. Thanks to cruise director Mike Witte and the officers who attended and facilitated the Cruise Critic member's meeting. The only drawback was internet access on the ship did not work due to a technical glitch. We were given a 100% refund, and managed to get easy net access in ports. Entertainment: I guess we have different likes from most people here. My mother liked the class on making towel animals the most. We were happy with a few games of bingo (almost won), donating a few $$ to the slot machine. My father enjoyed watching the Captain and officers at the bridge. We made good use of the library. There was usually some music or dancing going on in Galaxy of the Stars. We went to one show by a talented comedian and juggler. Excursions: Thank you everyone who posted on the Alaska board, especially Budget Queen, Murray and Caroline. Anything I say will be a repeat of the excellent advice offered there. Barring inclement weather or no research, there seems no way one can avoid having a fabulous time in Alaska. We booked/arranged all excursions independently. Semi-submersible vehicle in Ketchikan, whale watching in Juneau with the world famous Captain Larry and driving to Emerald Lake from Skagway. Here are the pictures. Disembarkation: I was concerned about this, since we docked at 7:00 a.m. and had a 1:20 p.m. flight to catch. NCL had said any time after 1:00 was safe, but being foreigners I was apprehensive of customs delay. Not a problem ... we were on shore and through customs 30 min after our color tag was called. We reached the airport 3 hours before our flight. Overall: We had a marvellous time. Doing proper research really pays off. In retrospect, almost all complaints I've read on Cruise Critic seem to be due to a mismatch between expectations and what's actually offered, something one can usually sort out well in advance. Thanks to NCL, Cruise Critic and the weather gods for making our trip so wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
First of all, I want to thank the Cruise Critic site for the heads up about this ship! The professional review was right on the money, and I was never caught off guard. Embarkation: This went quickly and smooth. No complaints about this. ... Read More
First of all, I want to thank the Cruise Critic site for the heads up about this ship! The professional review was right on the money, and I was never caught off guard. Embarkation: This went quickly and smooth. No complaints about this. Room: Balcony room was very nice. Not much storage space, but expected this per reviews. Firm bed was nice, but I like firm beds Food: Overall the food on the ship was average. This was my biggest disappointment of the cruise. Wait staff was ok, but I think that is a result of Freestyle Cruising.. they don't have to earn their tips! Shows: The comedian, Adam Ace, was great! The NCL production company was good for the price you pay to see the show (free). Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
We sailed from Seattle on 5/21/05. The embarkation process was smooth, but we did get there before it got real busy. They had some number system where they called you number to proceed on the ship, however the P.A. system was not working ... Read More
We sailed from Seattle on 5/21/05. The embarkation process was smooth, but we did get there before it got real busy. They had some number system where they called you number to proceed on the ship, however the P.A. system was not working so it became first come at the security screening. The last 2 cruises I took were on Royal Caribbean were their ships are a lot of glass, brass, and chrome, so I would have been surprised about the colors on this ship had it not been for this web site and group. Over all the ship was very nice for an Alaska Cruise. The very best place to be for watching the view, if the weather is not favorable for deck 13 fwd viewing, is in the Galaxy of the Stars on 12 fwd. The key spot is either on the left or right side corners on the raised platforms with the red carpet. From here you can see everything forward and aft of the ship all while being inside! Trick is once you are there, you have cant leave. You have to have somebody stay and hold your chairs. We never did get these tables but saw the same people there every day. The food was good, but definitely not the best I have had. Raffels food was usually luke warm to cool if it wasn't just brought out. In the dinning rooms, I think service suffers do to the freestyle cruising. We had empty glasses a bunch, had to ask for more bread. The waiters are not motivated since you are not tipping them directly. I suspect this is on all NCL ships. Swimming was great the kids & adults pool were kept at 85 and the hot tubs at 100, and we were impressed with the Kids Crew program. Our daughter was in the 6-12 group and was always in a hurry to get to the program. Captain Lars was very informative and did an excellent job getting us as close as he could to the Sawyer Glacier. The week before, he said that they were unable to see the glacier due to the ice in the water. We still didn't make it all the way up, but we have a good view of it. My biggest disappointment of the cruise was not the fault of NCL. I was majorly disappointed in the Ports of Call (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway). Except for the beautiful mountains and very nice people, I would have thought I stepped of the ship into any town in the Caribbean. I am tired of Diamond International, Tanzanite International, Del Sol, etc.... They are in every port just like the Caribbean! The few excursions we did were fun, and I heard good reviews about most that we did not go on. So I guess I can sum it up this way...Would I go again and on this ship?... Yes. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Our Cruise to Alaska on 5/14/2005 embarked from Vancouver, BC then to Ketchikan,AK, Juneau, Skagway, Saywer Glacier, then to Seattle, WA to disembark. We had a very good trip, the weather was beautiful the whole cruise, mostly clear ... Read More
Our Cruise to Alaska on 5/14/2005 embarked from Vancouver, BC then to Ketchikan,AK, Juneau, Skagway, Saywer Glacier, then to Seattle, WA to disembark. We had a very good trip, the weather was beautiful the whole cruise, mostly clear skies and 65-70 degrees. The stops along the way were all very fun with many things to do even if you wanted to do the town/tours yourself it was very safe and everyone very friendly. The scenery was spectacular, the mountains snow capped the water dark blue. We were only able to get a glimpse of the Glacier because the waterway was choked with Ice Bergs and small floating ice, it was still a bit early to get any closer. The ship is very well maintained with the crew always cleaning and polishing. There are many things to do onboard so you won't get bored. The food was very good in both the main restaurants, but the Raffels Buffet could expand it's Egg/Omelet bar as there were always lines waiting to get served. The Speciality Restaurants were all top quality it was worth the extra charge to treat yourself. We really enjoyed ourselves and Love Freestyle Cruising and Norwegian Cruise Line. Bon Voyage to All. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
We were on the 5/14 cruise and had a very good time aboard the beautiful Spirit of the Seas! The ship is gorgeous and immaculate. The staff was always friendly and willing to do anything within their power to make your cruise a special ... Read More
We were on the 5/14 cruise and had a very good time aboard the beautiful Spirit of the Seas! The ship is gorgeous and immaculate. The staff was always friendly and willing to do anything within their power to make your cruise a special one. Embarkation was a nightmare! We stood in line with 6000 people (there were three ships in port) and it took us 2.5 hours to go through security and immigration. Lots and lots of complaints were heard all around! Many people were stating that they cruise often and had never gone through anything like this before. I guess that the first cruises of the season caught the port staff unaware...because it was a giant mess. I hope that they figure out how to make it much better as the season goes on. Here's my advice...GO EARLY. The folks that showed up at 11:30 am were on the ship by the time the rush hit. By the time we finally got to the check in for Norwegian, it was a breeze. They were efficient and apologetic and made things quick and smooth from that point on. We missed the muster drill and had to do a make up drill on Sunday morning, along with hundreds of others. It (the weather) was very warm! I ended up buying T-shirts so that I could be comfortable as all that I brought was clothes for cooler weather. It rained a bit in Ketchikan, but Juneau and Skagway were very warm...over 70 degrees. My only complaint was on the Chocolate Buffet, which was very poorly organized. We never got to see it, much less eat any of it. The doors were open for one hour..if you were not willing to wait in line for over an hour, you didn't get to go. I hope that they change this for the future...a buffet in the performance theater did not work well. We were told by two separate staff members that it was open for photos a half hour before. No such deal. The beds were not hard to me. I slept like a baby. I enjoyed the comforter..it was cozy. I did not notice our room to be smoky. The Galaxy could be smoky and times and the casino, when busy, is smoky. Aren't they all?? (except in the non smoking section, of which this casino has none) I won $450 on a penny machine!! I thought that the casino was pretty loose and the machines kept me playing quite a long time. The food was awesome. We did not feel the need to pay to eat in any of the specialty restaurants but enjoyed each meal. Raffles is a buffet..and as buffet's go, it was fine. I loved their waffles...nummy. My husband enjoyed the dessert table and the made to order omelettes. We alternated between the Garden restaurant and Windows each night. I think that I preferred the Garden as it was a bit more intimate...but they had the same menu and both were very good. If you sit up near the beautiful windows in Window's dining room, you do feel and hear the vibration quite a lot. The rougher the seas, the worse it is. It was nice that there were always 'light' choices for those that were trying to watch their calorie intake. Some of them were better than the more fattening ones, in my opinion. On Italian night..make sure you have the Italian Almond Cake! It was delicious! The entertainment was so-so compared to the other cruise that I went on with Royal Caribbean. They had the same comedian nearly every night and he was ok..but not outstanding. The juggler was awesome. The staff singer dancer group was good, but my husband doesn't like that sort of thing, so we didn't see much of them. We also did not see the special singer. I felt that the Catamaran Misty Fjord's cruise was over priced, although it was nice. It seemed too much like home to us (Oregon) We did see some orca whales, one humpback tail and a pod of Dall Dolphins...and lots and lots of eagles. We walked to the Totem pole park and it was a disappointment to say the least. At least we didn't have to pay to get into it. In Juneau, we had a blast! We took the Roberts Tram up to the top of the mountain and did some hiking up there. Beautiful! In the afternoon we did the sea kayaking at Mendenhall Glacier. We had a lovely day and enjoyed it so very much! Skagway was also lots of fun for us. We rented a car from Avis and drove to Whitehorse, YK. We were spellbound with the pristine beauty of White Pass. You can stand at the scenic view spots and be amazed when you realize that there are no resorts, no vacation homes, no restaurants and even no gas stations! It is totally unspoiled and just breathtaking! We had the world's best halibut fish and chips in Whitehorse...and then hiked on a trail at Mile's Canyon on the Yukon River. On the way back to the return the rental car we stopped at the old Skagway cemetery and hiked up to Reed Falls. Gorgeous! The cemetery was also very interesting..to read the stories that are posted on the board at the entrance....lots of history! Most of the people died very young. We got up early and watched at our balcony as we entered Tracy Arm. An ice burg here..and one there..and all of a sudden..there are tons of them! The blue color is brilliant. We never saw a seal on one of them, nor any wildlife up in that area, other than sea birds. As stated before, we didn't get too close to the glacier, but we could see it. I was glad that we had seen Mendenhall so that we had a good idea in our heads of what the glacier would look like. Back out to open sea caused a lot of rocking and rolling of the ship. My hubby got seasick and spent most of the day horizontal on Friday. (Please note that he will not take any medicine to combat this...I took the little tablets and was fine..he prefers not to take any meds..not even aspirin!) So..he was not feeling well most of the day but it did settle down in the evening. We loved freestyle! We would cruise Norwegian again when the opportunity presents itself. Re: upgrades. We met several people that had booked just a couple of weeks before cruising that got upgraded to suites! I mean..the Owners Suite and another whoopee suite. Neither had cruised with Norwegian before and they had booked a GTY balcony! I will never book a cruise early again. We paid twice as much money by booking in January and we paid in full and booked on our own without a travel agent, which means that we were just out of luck. That was pretty frustrating but we tried not to dwell on it. And finally...about the Meeting place for our Cruise Critic meeting. I had emailed three separate times about getting a meeting place and never heard back from the staff. On Saturday evening, my phone rang and it was one of the staff saying that they had our meeting room reserved! I did not have a chance to tell everyone by phone, but we just caught them as they were coming to Champagne Charlie's, where we had originally agreed to meet and directed them to our meeting room, which was right around the corner. We were greeted by Mike, the cruise director and were joined by the head honcho Food Director and his asst. as well as the head Hotel Director. They all stayed for the entire hour, visiting with us. They were in full dress uniform. (well....not Mike..but the others) The provided us with cookies and coffee and juice. All but one couple showed up...it was just great! Thanks so much Spirit Staff!! Disembarking was smooth and quick. They started at 8:15..and my guess is that they were done by 9:20 or so. We were in the 2nd to last group to be called and we were off the ship by 9:10. Very smooth..no problems. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Ok here we go: Embarkation: This was a mess..only because all three ship that docked that morning were late. First we had to find the person with the tags for our bags....The long shoreman had lost them...After 45 minutes they found ... Read More
Ok here we go: Embarkation: This was a mess..only because all three ship that docked that morning were late. First we had to find the person with the tags for our bags....The long shoreman had lost them...After 45 minutes they found them. Then we sat in a large room because the ships had to be cleared of the prior passengers..that lasted about 2 hours...Finally after getting pre-cleared thru U.S. Customs (which is a good thing because you don't do it again for the rest of the cruise)we were on the boat at about 1:30. We headed up to the buffet... The food.... The buffet is ok...It's not bad in the morning, but so so the rest of the time. But hey it's the only thing open mid-morning. Windows is great, the garden room was ok....Now the alternative (pay) restaurants were outstanding. Le Bistro was awesome...The mushroom soup is great. Shogun had very good sushi and Maxims my husband was able to get a 1 1/2 lbs lobster for only $5 more than the price. Also every night between 5:30 - 6:00 the pay restaurants were 2 for 1 pricing. Now some of the meals (i.e. the lobster) was not included in this, but they did take 1/2 price off mine because I didn't go fancy smanchy lobster... Drinks... We didn't have that many drinks, but what we had were great. In henry's pub they have non-alcoholic drinks for 2 bucks...They are wonderful as they are ice-cream drinks. Drinks average about $4.50 per alcoholic drink. Staff... They were awesome...Our room stewards were wonderful. Anything we asked was there within minutes. The waiters bend over backwards for you. We made several friends just talking to them asking about their home countries and they were so nice...Even after we disembarked and were walking around seattle one of our favorite waiters saw us and asked if he could take a photo with us...they were wonderful. Cabin.... We had room 10088 (Balcony room). We had queen size bed (actually it was two beds pushed together with a queen size sheet on it). There are no top sheets...Only a duvet (not so sure on the spelling). They changed its cover often. We had a slight problem with our neighbors and smoking...there was an adjoining door in our room...Our neighbors smoked and it would seep through the door into our room...we complained to the reception desk and they said you are allowed to smoke in the rooms but they will put in ozone machine in our room. By the time we got back to our room (all of 5 minutes) the machine was already in our room, plugged in and the room was free of any smoky smell. It was awesome. The machine was very quite and we left it on the rest of the trip in front of the adjoining door and no problems. The bathroom was great...It has sliding glass doors that close for the toilet and the shower. Very cheerful tile with fish on it! Public Rooms...Very beautiful....The casino and the Galaxy of the Stars are smokey, but in Galaxy they try to keep one side non-smoking. This is where we watched for whales...it was awesome. The reception area was beautiful...We would have liked to see someone play the Grand Piano which is placed in the center of the stairs. The pools are WARM...The Tivoli pool was drained and filled every morning and was not salty at all. The daily temp of the pool was 84.2 Degrees. The Jacuzzis are set at 100.4 degrees. (the from the bridge report on TV tells you the temp of them everyday). Entertainment... We didn't go to any of the shows...We relaxed in our room and watched movies(they have quite a few on TV) and read. We did notice the Movie Room on-board was very small. Moulan Rouge (theater) was very large and spacious...This is where they held the Chocoholic Buffet on the last Sea Day (Friday). All in all this was a great cruise that I would do in an instant! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Embarkation was handled beautifully; same with debarkation. Plenty of staff to direct you and answer any questions. Our Window cabin was on the small side and the bed was rock hard (my suggestion: ask for a "egg crate" as soon as ... Read More
Embarkation was handled beautifully; same with debarkation. Plenty of staff to direct you and answer any questions. Our Window cabin was on the small side and the bed was rock hard (my suggestion: ask for a "egg crate" as soon as u board). Bathroom was large with large shower and the lav was behind a sliding door. Closet was adequate but I was surprised to see a lot of metal 'dry cleaner' hangars. Our cabin steward wasn't very visible. When we traveled Diamond Princess, our steward was always there ready to assist if ndd. On the Spirit, we asked if the two twin beds could be separated during day so we could see out the window and pulled together at night but steward said she couldn't do it since she had a bad back. Since I did too, I could emphasize but thought the answer was a little strange! Windows and The Garden Room Dining areas were very pretty, well appointed and the wait staff was WONDERFUL. Very courteous, accommodating and well-groomed. Food portions were on the small side but you never walked away hungry. The selections were varied and I particularly enjoyed the creamed fruit soups. The Buffet was so-so ... an odd assortment of food other than breakfast ... many other paxs felt the same way. I talked to the Food & Beverage person about this, he was very polite and promised to pass on my remarks to mgmnt. One nice touch on the ship was the Observatory on 12th level...windows and comfortable chairs to enjoy the changing scenery. We weren't able to go down the last fjord since there were too many small bergs in the water; that was disappointing but totally understandable. NCL offered many shore excursions, pretty high in price so we'd recommend trying to get a better price from a local vendor. The train ride in Skagway was $99 pp but we found a bus tour covering about the same route for $35pp and we were able to get off the bus at least 6x to take pixs - that was nice. I wasn't crazy about the Asian decor and atmosphere but this ship was brought into Alaskan service from the Asian market. All in all, it was a good 7 days and if for nothing else, we'd do NCL again for the great wait staff and interesting meals offered. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
First off - - I am no cruise expert. My recent cruise to Alaska on NCL Spirit was only my second cruise. My only other experience was the Caribbean on Carnival Fascination several years ago. As a novice, I was advised by several ... Read More
First off - - I am no cruise expert. My recent cruise to Alaska on NCL Spirit was only my second cruise. My only other experience was the Caribbean on Carnival Fascination several years ago. As a novice, I was advised by several experienced cruisers to really take a good look at Cruise Critic Member reviews to get a feel for what I was in for. I must say that upon my readings, my expectations were pretty low for this cruise. Albeit - - having spent seven days on the Spirit from August 28 through September 4, I wonder if I was on the same ship that so many others had such big problems with. The NCL Spirit was WONDERFUL. The difference between NCL and other cruise lines was obvious as soon as I picked up my luggage at SEATAC Airport. There were two very nice old gentlemen in starched vests representing Holland America, similar female versions representing Princess in equivalent garb, and two "kids" (relative to the others) in navy blue khakis and teal blue polo shirts representing NCL. That - - for starters - - made me feel like we made the right choice. We were a large party and we had not booked transfers from via NCL - - but the two kids were most helpful anyway - - telling us exactly where to go for information and advising us on the best and least expensive way (which included a limo!!!) to get to the ship. They were great. Upon arrival at the ship - - our bags were snatched out of our hands by eager NCL representatives and we made it through the whole embarkation process in about 15-20 minutes. Everyone from NCL was extremely efficient, professional with great senses of humor - - but most importantly - - appeared excited to see us. The NCL team knows how to make you feel special immediately. This was VERY different form my experience on Carnival. Upon entry to the ship - - we decided to walk some of the decks prior to going to our cabin. Basically - - our jaws were dropping over how beautiful this ship was. The decor was very classy and tasteful - - the ship was spotless- - and all appeared brand new even though the ship was 6 years old. Every time we walked into a new room - -weather it be the Galaxy of the Stars, The Moulan Rouge Lounge, the Atrium, or the pool deck - - our reaction was consistently "wow". The cruisers I was with are very experienced and their comments were in the nature of being the most beautiful ship they have ever been on. The cabin - - yes - - it was small - -but I did not spend a hell of alot of time there. It was very tastefully decorated - - bathroom was large and very comfortable, all was in working order and spotlessly maintained. Our Cabin Stewardess- Renata- - could not have been more accommodating. Any question or request was handled by her IMMEDIATELY. And I could not figure out, for the life of me, what all the comments about "the hard beds" and the need for "foam eggshells" were all about?? The beds were FINE with lots of extra pillows available. Maybe I live in a slum or just love hard beds - -but you would think we were on prison mattresses based on other reviews - - and that is just not the case at all. The food - - again - - I must have been on a different ship. Waffles was fine. Every morning - - choices of smoked salmon and salads, eggs, omelettes, pancakes, french toast, potatoes, blintzes, danish pastries, etc. I'm not sure what else I should have been looking for. OK- - so the bagels and toast were offered at a separate table a little out of the way - - SO WHAT - - given all I was eating - - the little walk probably did me some good. Don't get me wrong - - it is a buffet and not GOURMET - - but the food was good. And relative to the slop I experienced on the buffet on Carnival - - this WAS gourmet. We ate most nights at Windows. Having had lunch most days - - it was really impossible for us to eat before 8:00-8:30 and in all the days we ate at Windows - - we had a very modest line (15 minutes) ONE time and it would have been 5 minutes if we were a bit more flexible. Food at Windows was EXCELLENT and service was even better. Ask for Ceaser or Yanna - - both outstanding servers and delightful in different ways (Ceaser is just totally friendly and warm - - Yanna could be a stand up comic). We did eat a Maxim's one night as were so impressed - - we had to go back again before we left the ship. The Porterhouse I had (both times) was amongst the best steak I have ever had. Service impeccable (Emma and Janet are a serving team to top all others). The Itinerary - - OK - - I have a bias here. In 2003 I flew to Anchorage, rented an RV and drove Alaska for two weeks. If the reason for your cruise is to go on a cruise - - it is great. If you are going to see Alaska and all of it's beauty - - a cruise is not the way you will get it - - -not even the "tip of the iceberg". Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway were all quaint and precious in their own ways - - but I did not feel like I was in "Alaska" in these places - - not when I've been to Danali National Park - -or Valdez. Between Little Switzerland and Diamonds Internatinal -- I felt like I was on St. Thomas or Barbados more than Alaska. Not that I did not have fun shopping - - I DID. It's just not particularly "Alaskan". I understand why we had to go to Prince Rupert - -but I would have been just as happy for a day on sea - -which his basically what it was - - since I was back on the ship in about 15 minutes. You got a VERY small taste of true Alaska for about 2-3 hours after leaving Skagway - - going through Tracy Arm and at Sawyer Glacier- - -but this is what the trip should be all about as opposed to 2-3 hours. Of course - - shore excursions would have gotten you more of this - - but I had seen much on my own in previous years. If you must cruise to Alaska- - take an itinerary that goes further north - - into Glacier Bay. Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise was extremely well organized and a piece of cake. We appreciated being able to have a leisurely breakfast and stay in our cabins and relax. When we were called - - no big lines, no commotion - - NCL has this process well perfected. Two additional items- - - first, while the ship was wonderful and the food was great - - we all agreed that what made this cruise most special was the NCL team. These people were falling all over us to make sure we were happy and satisfied with EVERYTHING at ALL TIMES. If it even looked like I was having a problem carrying something at the buffet to the table - - there was immediately an NCL Server there to help me - -multiple times. There was NOTHING these people would not do for you. Second - - I do not like pretense and formality. In that respect- - NCL and freestyle cruising are a perfect match for my taste. It may not be for others. My one comparison - - Carnival - - which also goes for the "relaxed / more casual" atmosphere - - simply could not compare with NCL. Carnival was Crass while NCL was Class - - without pretension. BRAVO to NCL and the Spirit!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Norwegian Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.8
Dining 4.5 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 3.5 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 5.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.0

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