17 Norwegian Spirit Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

We were a group of 13 friends. We picked the ship because of the itinerary. Good thing we had each other to keep entertained and make the best of this extremely dull ship. The Cruise Director was lackluster and the DJ played awful music. ... Read More
We were a group of 13 friends. We picked the ship because of the itinerary. Good thing we had each other to keep entertained and make the best of this extremely dull ship. The Cruise Director was lackluster and the DJ played awful music. The Spanish Duo was amazing and tried their best to keep the entertainment festive. By 10pm the ship was a ghost town. I felt like I was in a nursing home and it was 10 o'clock lights out. This ship was old and the burgers and pizza were awful. The food overall was average. This is my first and last NCL cruise. The Specialty restaurants were good. We were not able to get a reservation at Teppinaki, that was extremely frustrating, since we paid for the extra specialty dining and had to eat Italian twice. Overall, if you are over 60 and want a quiet relaxing cruise with very little to do, this is the cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Looking for a good value all inclusive cruise with a great list of ports to visit and fun for a grown up familly. This cruise didn't disappoint. We we're a group of 12 adults from England and found plenty to do whilst either on ... Read More
Looking for a good value all inclusive cruise with a great list of ports to visit and fun for a grown up familly. This cruise didn't disappoint. We we're a group of 12 adults from England and found plenty to do whilst either on the boat or in port. The Spirit was very clean with lovely housekeeping and dining staff always happy to help with our needs. One of our group was Gluten intolerant and her needs were catered for without inconvience the majority of the time. Our Cabin was an indoor stateroom on deck 10 sleeping 3 adults. The sleeping arrangement was fine, 2 on a double an one on a pull out bed on the floor, all very confortable. This was our first time in an indoor room with no windows and taking the price into consideration, we were all more than happy with this. Food quality in both the buffet area at lunch and the afternoon dining was very good and although we we're a big group of 12, we we accomodated at all times. Pre booking is recommened however just to be sure and to avoid delays. There was plenty of entertainment available throughout the cruise, the pool band 'souled out' were really enjoyable, playing well known hits for all to enjoy. The pool itself was salt water and cold but was never overcrowded due to it being adult only and well supervised. The music, (other times around the pool and in the night club at the end of the day) at times was very hispanic based. A little of this music we were happy with but for times it would be 3 or 4 hours constant around the pool and song after song in the night club. Afternoon entertainment was a bit hit and miss, there was a bit of everything, magic, dancing, singing etc but a few of the acts were a little boring and lacking the 'wow' factor. On a final note for entertainment, we were a group of 12 so found it easy to make our own entertainment most times (a little thanks to the free bar) but think we may of struggled if in small groups. The casino and nightclub ended most nights for us, casino was a little expensive $10 minimum across all tables so we stayed to the machines. The nightclub was a good laugh although the karaoke which was on for an hour or so before the nightclub every night had a very hard to navigate song request system, meaning long queues and many not being able to find the song they were after. Service on the whole was great, the only place where we had a little issue was at some of the bars where a few of our party experienced either an attitude or just unecessary rudeness and unpoliteness when ordering drinks from bar staff. The highlight of the cruise was the ports that we visited hence the 4 out 5 rating. After pre booking a few excursions and researching all locations that we visited before leaving on the cruise, the days out where highly enjoyable. We as a group recommend pre booking both trips and transport pre cruise but not exclusively with the cruise. Multiple times we sorted our own lifts\guides and excursions to great effect. Opinions are split about whether we would travel on the spirit again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I have always wanted to take a Mediterranean cruise and finally had the opportunity to do so. First time on NCL, and I was very impressed with the services. The Sprit is an older ship, and I thought they did a good job with the remolding. ... Read More
I have always wanted to take a Mediterranean cruise and finally had the opportunity to do so. First time on NCL, and I was very impressed with the services. The Sprit is an older ship, and I thought they did a good job with the remolding. We were a group of 10 and we all enjoyed the food, entertainment and port of calls. Although the freestyle was an adjustment for us, we were able to adjust with ease. Other adjustments we worked with are having to pay for their Specialty dining, which one was a steakhouse, the other served French, and I believe the other was Japanese food. 2 iof the restaurants, which were many favorites, were small and filed up quickly, it was difficult to sit a group, but eventually we were able to work it out. We also discovered that NCL charges for laundry, which is the only way to get your laundry done. I will definitely cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Our 2nd cruise on the Spirit. We chose this ship again because it is smaller and more sophisticated than some of the larger ones that have water parks , and fairground rides. We are a couple in our 50s and we love the customer ... Read More
Our 2nd cruise on the Spirit. We chose this ship again because it is smaller and more sophisticated than some of the larger ones that have water parks , and fairground rides. We are a couple in our 50s and we love the customer service, the cleanliness, and how friendly the ship is. Everything from embarkation throughout the 10 nights on board ran smoothly like a military operation. The food is superb. We ate in the main / speciality restaurant for breakfast & dinner. 5 star service., and the buffet at lunchtime , sat near the pool. We decided to dress up for dinner for 2/3 nights , and had our photos taken . You can dress casual for dinner if you prefer , although i think in the main dining rooms , after 5pm it is preferred you dont wear shorts. Fair enough.:) Itinerary was great, as was the weather. If you like top quality service, food , drinks , and entertainment , you will love this ship. They even put a black linen napkin on your lap if you have dark clothes on , instead of white!!! 100% recommend Norwegian Cruise Line Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I was just on the 12-day Grand Mediterranean from May 7-19 aboard the Norwegian Spirit. It was a DREAM VACATION. While the ship was relatively older and I did complain about having to pay almost double for my stateroom and port fees... the ... Read More
I was just on the 12-day Grand Mediterranean from May 7-19 aboard the Norwegian Spirit. It was a DREAM VACATION. While the ship was relatively older and I did complain about having to pay almost double for my stateroom and port fees... the service, crew, food and organized shore excursions more than made up for it. It was so very worth it. The staff and crew goes ABOVE and BEYOND to make your experience memorable no matter what kind of day they are having. They always put you first! The food is excellent and so was service even during really crowded meal times. The housekeeping and shore excursion team was amazing in ensuring a smooth trip and I love ALL their recommended trips. I took an excursion every single time we were on port and it was worth it! Big shoutout to our housekeeping room steward Amol, who always made sure my needs were taken cared of... and shore excursion team especially Jonathan for recommending the greatest day trips during my stay! I will definitely be back! My only suggestion: Since the Spirit does Mediterranean cruises, converting some cabins to single occupancy (so we don't have to pay double) would be IDEAL! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Service in dining room was extremely slow. Refused to go to the specialty restaurants and pay extra money. I think that's what they want. Had planned to have breakfast in the cabin, but they started charging $7.95 for room service. ... Read More
Service in dining room was extremely slow. Refused to go to the specialty restaurants and pay extra money. I think that's what they want. Had planned to have breakfast in the cabin, but they started charging $7.95 for room service. The only 110 volt outlet had a label saying 'No hairdryers." I use a diffuser and the hairdryer in the bathroom was way too strong and hot. The unlimited data plan was a plus, especially since their wifi is so slow. Also enjoyed the unlimited beverage plan that came free with the week. Was not a happy cruiser overall. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
All is geared toward making you pay more. You might pay less to book a cabin than on some other lines, and you’ll get what you paid for - a small cabin with inferior furnishings. Ours even had a pole in it which prohibited the single ... Read More
All is geared toward making you pay more. You might pay less to book a cabin than on some other lines, and you’ll get what you paid for - a small cabin with inferior furnishings. Ours even had a pole in it which prohibited the single beds from being place together to form a double -- yet there is no mention of this on the ship’s deck-plan. Guess they like to surprise you. Cocktails are poor, but the free food is good if you get it when it’s hot and don’t mind redundancy. Dining after 8 PM or breakfasting after 8:30 AM is risky in this regard. The pay restaurants are a joke, as the food is no better than at the free restaurants, and we saw few go for them. We ate once at the Shogun, great appetizer, but the classes of wine I ordered were spoiled by the staff; a Mondavi Chardonnay had been watered down, and an Argentine Malbec spoiled by incorrect storage - perhaps near an oven. Another try was equally humorous, at Le Bistro we suffered thru fake French food which was old and tasteless, and a bottle of California Merlot that I left with and gave to a young couple that wouldn’t balk at the poor quality. This dinner with wine was given complimentarily to us by the cabin chief after we complained about our room with pole, and excessive noise from the dance floor in the Galaxy lounge, three decks above us. He also offered to swap out our room, while the guest services desk declared that ship was full – however, there were only around 1600 out of the 2200 capacity. Guest services also offered us earplugs as a solution when we complained about the noise. The ship is small and easy to get around. The activities are the normal ones available on ships, like bingo, card tables, a library, and a theatre. The nightly performances were well done, especially the dance aspects. The casino was dubious. I repeatedly saw stud poker players correcting dealers pay outs on winning hands, which were sometimes overlooked. The dice table and a $25 minimum blackjack table were always empty, and the $5 blackjack tables seemed questionable - shuffling machines seemed to deal out pat hands around the table and also give the dealer a 21 through several hits. This happened 5 times in a row when I was playing, which is when I quit. I wonder if these casinos are ever controlled by gaming authorities. The crew seemed very happy and congenial. I think the idea that NCL has is that a happy crew makes the guests happy. This is a common cruise hospitality fallacy. An efficient crew that works well makes the guests happy. Perhaps NCL should take that into account, along with some of its misrepresentations. It should, at least, fix its deck-plan information to show any pole intrusions in rooms. Over all, I recommend NCL only to experienced cruisers. A first cruise on NCL would be a big mistake, due to the cuisine and shabby, skimpy cabins. If you’re experienced, and get a low price, and don’t mind eating early, and don’t spend time in your cabin, then this is for you. Don’t forget to simply refuse the daily gratuity charges they tack onto the bill. It’s all a front to get you to pay more, feeling that those happy grew members deserve your tips. Truth is they receive no part of the tacked on gratuities - they are all on fixed salaries and your refusal to pay will not affect them.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We were traveling in a group of 12 people ranging in age from 15 to 52. We all are non drinkers, but do like to dance and have a good time. We arrived the day before our embarkation at the Quality Inn and Suites in Gretna, LA. This ... Read More
We were traveling in a group of 12 people ranging in age from 15 to 52. We all are non drinkers, but do like to dance and have a good time. We arrived the day before our embarkation at the Quality Inn and Suites in Gretna, LA. This hotel offered a park and cruise package for 4 people at a cost of $145 tax included. The hotel well served its purpose and provided a good breakfast. Algiers Point Ferry is only about 3 miles away and will drop you off at Canal St., to view New Orleans. The parking at the ferry was $10. We toured the downtown area of New Orleans and eat a late lunch at Mother's. The food was incredibly good! Some in our group and Po boy's and I had the fried oysters, turnip greens, and potato salad. The turnip greens were the best that I have ever eaten. We also went to Cafe Dumonde's for beignets and they were awesome! Embarkation day= We took the 9am shuttle to the port and waited until about 1015am to start the boarding process. For some reason they did not let anyone on until about 1200. Once boarded, we went straight to our rooms to drop off our carryon's. My wife and I stayed on the 5th floor in a porthole room and my teenage boys stayed across the hall. The rooms were plenty spacious and very clean. We did ask for foam to make our beds more comfortable. We then went to Windows Dining room and had calamari, steak, and cheesecake! 1st Sea day= The women in our group spent the day sunbathing and the men played ping pong, basketball and hit golf balls. Each night of the cruise we all would meet at Windows for dinner. Cozumel= We docked at 8am and took taxis to Paradise Beach. The beach chairs were $2 and inflatables were a $12 bracelet. Our group enjoyed the time here, but decided to eat lunch on the boat. After lunch we shopped around the port area and went back to the boat. Belize= We reserved cave tubing with cavetubing.bz, so was in a hurry to get off the boat. Tendering was fairly quick and we were on land by 9am. The guys at cavetubing.bz done a fabulous job and was half the price of a ship excursion. Lunch was included and toured the caves for $45pp. Roatan= This was the most beautiful country side that I have been to. Tendering did take awhile, but was well worth the wait. We took an Island tour for a negotiated price of $15pp. We asked our drive to take us to Pirates of the Caribean zipline. We got a group rate of $55pp and had a very good time. We then shopped the street leaving the port area and found some very good bargains here. T-shirts were only $5 each. Roatan was a beautiful area with a very low crime rate. It would be a wonderful place to retire! Costa Maya= We had reserved chairs at Tropicante. After a $2 pp taxi ride, Steve met us and showed us to our chairs. Half of our group got massages for $25pp an hour, and the other half went snorkeling for $20pp an hour. The food and drinks were very reasonable and excellent quality! This was our most relaxing stop. There was some very good shopping along the beach. My wife bought many dresses for $15 each. 2nd sea day=The women mostly sunbathed, while the men participated in shuffle board, ping pong and basketball. Debarkation= We chose to do self debarkation and was off the boat by 8am. We did have to wait on the hotel shuttle for about 30 mins, but everything went great. Summary= Food= We ate at Windows Dining room every night and the service was very good. I do like the freestyle dining very much. I really like the selections better on Carnival, but there was some good nights here. We ate breakfast and lunch at Raffles almost everyday and it was very good for a buffet style meal. I stopped by Raffles a few times at night after supper. I loved the crepes and chocolate fountain. Shows= The shows were very good, with the exception of the Magic Show. We watched the Welcome aboard, acrobats, comedian, Cats in Pajamas and Elements. Each one was very good. Entertainment= The entertainment is more geared toward the older crowd. I wish they would have more dance parties around the pool at night. The karaoke was held in Henrys pub and the venue was way too small. The piano bar is by the atrium and lacks the intimacy that most have. I loved the White Hot Party and some of the other dance parties, but they really do need to be held outside, for more room. Rooms= The rooms were fine, except for the hard beds. But, after a request for foam on the bed, they were sufficient. The stewards that we had were wonderful and supplied our every need. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
My father booked a cruise for all 7 of his children and their spouses. He got us all balcony cabins. Unfortunately not all of us has the same experience. More on that later. Embarkation was quite painless. not overly crowded and no long ... Read More
My father booked a cruise for all 7 of his children and their spouses. He got us all balcony cabins. Unfortunately not all of us has the same experience. More on that later. Embarkation was quite painless. not overly crowded and no long lines to queue in for more that 30 minutes. I was a little skeptical about the ports of call and my skepticism was well founded From New Orleans we sailed to Costa Maya, Belize, Isla Roatan, and Cozumel. Costa Maya just isn't a real good port of call, period. Not much there but beaches and although they are beautiful they are over crowded and very touristy. We ended booking a private beach location a half hour south at Alma Plena which was perfect place to get away from the cruise crowds!! They only allow so many cruisers to book and there are only a few rooms that people book so it is secluded, and not crowded at all! Belize is just blah. Lots of history but no beaches unless you book a boat to take you to one of the islands off the mainland. Roatan Island is beautiful. We booked an excursion to Tabyana beach and the snorkeling was some of the best i have ever done!! Highly recommended. Cozumel seems to be a standard stop for all western caribben cruises and since Ive been there so many times it was just the same old............... We ended up doing the x-rails which was loads of fun, but unless you're willing to spend the money your options are a boat ride to cancun or boring island tours. Staff was ok on the spirit and they tried to accommodate our issues we had with out rooms by comping us a meal at a specialty restaurant. As for the issues with balcony rooms on the ninth floor. My father booked 8 rooms however they were separated into two groups, one group on port side aft and one on starboard side aft. BEWARE OF NINTH FLOOR BALCONIES ON THE STARBOARD AFT SIDE!!!! They are right under the daycare center located on the tenth floor and are the noisiest rooms in the industry!!!. The ceiling literally vibrate and rattle all day long due to kids jumping and running in the daycare. Now I'm no ogre and I understand the need for kids to have fun too, but whoever designed this should be demoted to intern designer. We first complained when we were trying to go to bed around 10 pm and the noise was so bad. We called and complained and the staff said they would talk to the Daycare personnel and remedy. The noise did stop but not for another half hour. They said they would give us a bottle of wine for our inconvenience. Thee next night same thing. Late in the evening and tired we were once again unable to sleep because of the noise. This time we were literally offered ear plugs. Really? Earplugs? I called the next morning and complained again so they gave us a complimentary dinner at Cagney's. Then The final straw was during the day trying to relax in the room and banging, vibrations and rattling filled the room all day. I just don't get it. You pay extra for balconies and they put the daycare over cabins you pay extra for. This definitely ruined out experience with NCL and especially the ship Spirit!! We ended up getting a $300 credit for our next cruise with NCL but i am very reluctant to use it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
My husband, a friend and I just got back from a cruise on the NCL Spirit out of New Orleans. I suggest visiting the city prior to your cruise. We stayed 2 nights at Harrah's Hotel, it was wonderful, a 4.5 star hotel. The rooms were ... Read More
My husband, a friend and I just got back from a cruise on the NCL Spirit out of New Orleans. I suggest visiting the city prior to your cruise. We stayed 2 nights at Harrah's Hotel, it was wonderful, a 4.5 star hotel. The rooms were faboulous...the view to the Mississippi. Embarentation was easy. They have it down to a science. Our rooms were ready and our luggage arrived promptly. It took 8 hours to leave the Mississippi and was fun watching the ship depart down the river. Our first day at sea was a little cloudy, but gave us time to acclumate to the ship. First day shore excursion was in Cozumel. We book in advance the Dolphin Swim and it was the best time. Clean, efficient and the dolphins had a wonderful area to work in. Pictures were expensive...restaurant food was excellent. Got back in enough time to spend at the pool which I loved! Second stop was Belize City, Belize. We did the Bacab Park and although we enjoyed it, wouldn't go back. Third stop was Roatan, Honduras and we booked the South Beach Experience, which was the highlight of our trip. It is also known as Parrot Tree Plantation...look it up on line..it was beautiful. The lunch was included and was a super value and the food was good, fresh and they gave great service. Lastly, Costa Maya, Mexico. We just shopped at the dock and they had great shops and restaurants. We did watch the dolphin swim offered there and was very happy we chose the one in Cozumel. Our room was on the 10th deck and very nice. Our bed mattress needs to be replace. We mentioned it to our room steward John and he had put on the egg crate mattress topper and gave us better pillows and that was great. Room was spotless everyday. Loved the balcony, wouldn't cruise without one. Food on the ship was great. Only would suggest more variety of food choices in the Garden and Windows restaurants. Specialty restaurant's were very good, Cagney's, Shogun, and Le Bistro. Entertainment: We saw the Illusionist and my husband liked it, I thought it was predictable, however, the dancers in his show were great...the Comedy Show was FABOULOUS!! Mike(?) Nester was hilarious..would pay to see him any day! Casino was smokey! All though they have a non-smoking room the machines there were boring. Lost money of course but oh well we had fun. Overall, I loved my vacation. Each and every staff member we encountered were pleasant and asked if they could help us in any way. We definitely would sail with NCL again! Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We arrived in New Orleans on Friday for a cruise on Sunday. We got an excellent deal on the rooms and I can't say enough good things about the Drury Inn and Suites. Their breakfast and evening meals were great. Our group had a ... Read More
We arrived in New Orleans on Friday for a cruise on Sunday. We got an excellent deal on the rooms and I can't say enough good things about the Drury Inn and Suites. Their breakfast and evening meals were great. Our group had a great time while we were there. We had never been to New Orleans so it was a great chance to see Bourbon St. We even did a walking tour on Saturday and stopped at Cafe Dumond. Now for the cruise itself. Embarkation was OK. The only negative is that the procedure is very confusing. We were given numbers as we came in and when your number was called you went to check in. Then you went to a holding room. We were one of the first in the terminal and when they started calling people to board they called several letters first and people that had gotten there much later than us got on before us. I am not sure what the process is but it did not seem to make sense. NCL had the staterooms ready as soon as you board. This was a refreshing change from Carnival where we normally have to drag around our carry on luggage for a couple of hours. The next thing I will say is luggage delivery was very early and that allowed us to be unpacked before the muster drill. I said that this was probably the wrong ship and I say that for a couple of reasons. I will start with the room. This balcony cabin was much smaller than any we have ever had. The room was nice but there were several problems such as incomplete carpet work that was done, large crack in the shower tile, one of the bedside lamps did not work. None of this had any affect on the good time we were all having. The Ship itself is very cut up, getting around was a bit of a challenge for some things but all in all the major drawback is the size of the ship. The casino was very small and if you wanted to play the slots you better get there early because they filled up fast. Food: We have cruised many times and the quality of food on this cruise was a bit lacking. I know that food is a very subjective thing but a lot of the items seemed to be repeated and the variety was lacking in the main dining rooms. I think that this is probably a plan on their part to get you into the upcharge restaurants. We tried cagneys and it was ok. I was expecting to be blown away but my steak was over cooked and my wife had a Filet that was kind of tough. I would like to echo the comments of another reviewer. GO TO BLUE LAGOON. The wings were great and we had a great time in there with friends. We determined that Free Style Dining is great for small groups but for a group the size of ours it just did not work. We always had to wait for a table no matter the number of us there. At the Garden Dining Room they give you pagers like they do in a land based restaurant. Dinner seemed to take longer due to the freestyle aspect of it because the kitchen staff is constantly switching from appetizers to entres and back again. I think formal dining times are better and get the food moving faster. We did Raffles for breakfast every morning and it was a lively place to be. "Chocolate Cake" was a fixture of our morning and his constant calling out of "Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey" Service: For the most part the staff we encountered were great. Everyone was very friendly and when a request was made it was promptly taken care of. The problem was that in our cabin we had to request towels or robes several times and those should be automatic. Our room steward was really good about towel animals. These are one of my favorite parts of cruising and we averaged 2 different ones a day. Entertainment: The only show I saw was the Magic Show and it was not very good. A lot of slight of hand but no real great tricks. The Band on the pool deck was GREAT!!! One thing that is a huge plus for this ship is no Jumbo Tron so the band played more on this ship than most I can remember. Karaoke was done at the bier garten and that is outside above the pool. We went once and it was not as much fun as being in an intimate bar setting in my opinion. The only other comment I have for this area is that everything started late. Most things like Karaoke or the piano bar started after both of the shows let out. So if you did not go to a show there was not much to do until 10pm. I have to say that any cruise is a good cruise. It was 75-80 every day and it was cold at home. I also think that you can let little things ruin a good time if you want to. None of the things I have listed prevented us from having a good time. I think NCL has done the most it can possibly do with this small ship. I give them credit for that, but I think that the focus on the upsell restaurants is a little over the top. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Let me start by saying that this cruise was a reunion of my college fraternity brothers and their wives. Their were 24 of us in total and the consensus among us all was this was a very enjoyable cruise. The ship it self is very nice and ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this cruise was a reunion of my college fraternity brothers and their wives. Their were 24 of us in total and the consensus among us all was this was a very enjoyable cruise. The ship it self is very nice and very clean but the staff makes the experience exceptional. The Taste of India is not to be missed and well worth the extra money. All of the speciality dining venues were excellent and reasonably priced. We did not try the Italian restaurant simply we enjoyed Le Bistro so much as well as Cagney's. Special thanks to our room stewardess Authoreen, our Concierge Bell and our Butler Randy. They all did exceptional jobs to insure we had a great time. We only got off the ship in Cozumel to go to the beach at Playa de Maya and to buy some souvenirs. We prefer to stay on the ship and have it to ourselves. The only short comings on the entire cruise were scheduling issues at the spa which my wife attributed to new staff. Should any members have any specific questions please submit them to me and I will try to answer them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I've read all of the other reviews of the Spirit and NCL--and its like we were on completely different ships/staff. We took this NCL Spirit cruise as part of the Mardi Gras BearCruiseUSA 2011 voyage. I will start with ... Read More
I've read all of the other reviews of the Spirit and NCL--and its like we were on completely different ships/staff. We took this NCL Spirit cruise as part of the Mardi Gras BearCruiseUSA 2011 voyage. I will start with the positives for each topic: 1) The Bear Cruise USA portion was fantastic. The organizers and fellow travelers were a pleasure. The ports and impromptu gatherings provided for many many lasting memories to be made. Getting on the ship was a breeze. 2) The "front line" staff of NCL seem to be the most friendly, hardest working, and eager to please staff on the seas. 3) The NCL Spirit is a beautiful ship. The size of it was just about perfect for a group of our size--you could get away when you wanted, and easily find each other when you wanted as well. 4) Cagney's was the perfect "last evening of the cruise" restaurant--great service, amazing steaks, and the Oysters Rockefeller is not to be missed. We left smiling. 5) Liquor prices were reasonable. We greatly enjoyed 2-for-1 martinis in Champagne Charlie's nightly. The professional entertainers there were extremely talented as well. Now for the negatives. As a rule, my husband and I have a good sense of humor about all of this. That said, I've worked most of my professional life in service industry jobs; all of these complaints are absolutely inexcusable. Not only does NCL know about the issues, but their senior management on the ship were downright apathetic and defensive about complaints raised. 1) If it were not for the memories our group made in the preceding 6 days, disembarkation would have ruined the cruise. An emergency medical evacuation delayed our arrival back into New Orleans significantly. NCL handled the resulting delay abysmally. NCL did not openly communicate what resources were available to find alternate travel plans nor did they provide accurate estimates when we would disembark. At disembarkation, we watched as guests pushed and shoved for 2 hours following the call for guests to (voluntarily) "carry your own luggage off the ship". We experienced similar serious delays on Princess last year disembarking in Puerto Rico, but the entire time Princess apologized profusely. At the end, we were thanking the Princess staff for their professionalism and hoping to return soon. NCL did not once use the words "I'm sorry" or "we apologize" in their announcements. Continually, we heard "We understand there have been delays and we thank you for your patience." That irks me most of all. A sincere apology is free. Note: there were several public areas where passengers were instructed to wait for disembarkation. The restroom facilities near these areas were in deplorable condition. No toilet paper or paper towels, evidence of previous guests, puddles on the floors, etc. 2) Although the front line staff is friendly and eager--they are either woefully understaffed or provided inadequate resources to complete their jobs. A perfect example: when we returned from shore in Roatan around 3:30pm, we wanted food. The buffet was offering only finger sandwiches(??), so we went to the Blue Lagoon. It appeared many others had this idea too. It was a madhouse. A server, Gemma, was incredible--she was balancing her duties at the adjacent bar with assisting servers deliver food in the Blue Lagoon. Still, even the best intentions and enthusiasm couldn't make up for only one restaurant being open, and running out of menu items. Each time we returned from port, it was as if NCL was downright surprised that people might be hungry after a long day of activities. The servers were helpless, and managers we talked to were unapologetic. 3) Such a beautiful ship should not have mildew/mold in the cabin showers and toilets that don't flush until 10 minutes after you press the button. We should have brought this to our cabin steward's attention. However, wasn't he the one cleaning the shower and the toilets? I'm sure he also noticed the stains on the fresh sheets he was putting on our bed. We didn't see him in the hallway to tell him, and we weren't going to go out of our way to complain about little issues that were merely another sign of what we knew: staff can only be enthusiastic and friendly for so long before frustration makes them stop trying. We understand the ship is the oldest in NCL's fleet. It is not showing the signs of age, it is showing the signs of neglect. 4) We strongly suggest you order 2 or even 3 entrees at the Windows dining room if you choose to dine there for dinner. At least 1 of them might be edible. Entire plates of food were terrible: often cold or just badly-prepared. We had gnocchi that were hard as ping pong balls. Pasta was always overcooked; sauces were bland. A tortilla soup had ONE strip of tortilla in the whole bowl, the rest was broth. I'm not making this up! Seafood tasted fishy (old). A table-mate described a vegetarian dish one night as "curry abuse". Breakfast was the only meal we would recommend eating in Windows, and even then it appeared just to be plated food from the buffet. We tried Shogun (for a charge), which we had loved on the NCL Gem last year, but it was a disappointment on the Spirit. Our group reservation for 12 was treated as an imposition. Although some food was tasty (spring rolls, shrimp, bbq spare-ribs), most was cold or flavorless (street noodles, mongolian braised beef). It was not worth the up-charge. The "floor show" was entertaining like a train-wreck. More on that in #5 below. 5) While liquor prices were reasonable, there was a huge problem with college-aged adults on spring break being over-served. NCL reportedly sold unlimited alcohol packages for $250 to several groups of college students. NCL then proceeded to continuously over-serve those guests to the detriment of other's enjoyment of their vacations. At Shogun, we watched as a college student slammed his fists against his table and yelled loudly. The young man then proceeded to drink until he was unable to keep his eyes open. Around the time he placed a linen napkin over his face and swayed back and forth in his chair, he was served a glass of white wine. Later, the individual was served a glass of sake before being unable to find the door to exit the restaurant. He was allowed to wander unescorted through the cruise-ship yelling at other passengers. In what way is NCL being a responsible vendor of alcohol? More than once, these college-aged students were seen sleeping in the hallways because they couldn't find their rooms. The ship ran out of Pina Colada mix on the second day of the cruise. They went on to run out of rail rum, rail vodka, Bud Light, Fosters, and Dos Equis to name a few. The NCL front-line staff profusely apologized; the managers shrugged and offered a more expensive beverage. Any time we brought up a concern about a clearly intoxicated guest being served additional alcohol, the front-line staff said they already knew about the problem and suggested we speak with a manager. When we spoke with a manager, they were quick with an excuse and continued serving the drunk guests. Eventually we stopped complaining to staff, and started sharing our poor experience with fellow guests--our experience was shared by many of them as well. Near the last day of the cruise, the ships executive staff were made available in an open meeting with guests. The management team's response to the overwhelming chorus of dissatisfied passengers was, "Well, it IS spring break." Well, it IS our money, and we will always choose your competitor in the future. NCL... you're now free to "Whatever." Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Our family just returned from sailing Norwegian Spirit on a New Year's Cruise departing December 26, 2010 for 7 days in the Western Caribbean from New Orleans, with ports of call in Costa Maya (Mexico), Roatan (Honduras), Belize, and ... Read More
Our family just returned from sailing Norwegian Spirit on a New Year's Cruise departing December 26, 2010 for 7 days in the Western Caribbean from New Orleans, with ports of call in Costa Maya (Mexico), Roatan (Honduras), Belize, and Cozumel. We had a group of 24 sailing with two large families, some couples and some single travelers in the mix, and our ages ranged from 83 years down to 9 months so we covered plenty of demographic groups. Many of us had sailed Norwegian before although some had not, and while most had some cruise experience, we also had some first timers too. For my part I am 60, I was traveling with my extended family, and this was my 11th cruise, the 5th on Norwegian, and we have sailed 4 times on Royal Caribbean, once on Celebrity and once on Carnival. We chose this particular cruise in part because of the good price, but also because of the departure city (we spent Christmas in New Orleans prior to the cruise), and because of the ship layout which included, among other appealing features, a special pool area designated for small children as our 2 grandchildren were traveling with us (ages 3 years, and 9 months). PRE-CRUISE: Although we live in South Carolina, my husband's family hails from Louisiana so the prospect of taking our kids to New Orleans for Christmas and meeting up with family now living in Dallas played into our choice of embarkation ports. We drove to New Orleans on December 23rd, and others in the family flew in either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to join us. Since we arrived first, we decided to experiment with a small guest house the first night and found a particularly good price at the Lamothe House on Esplanade right at the edge of the French Quarter. Our daughters, who had 2 twin beds, found their room comfortable, but our double bed would not win any awards for comfort. Still, the guest house was only a couple blocks' stroll to the Port of Call pub also on Esplanade which serves up some of the best hamburgers anywhere, and we weary travelers were happy to enjoy a good meal without going to much trouble after the long drive. The following night we moved over to the Hotel Monteleone on Royal at Iberville, which is where I had made reservations for the crowd, and we found this hotel to be both pleasantly appointed and very comfortable. The Hotel Monteleone is usually a bit pricey, but around the holidays they often offer a Papa Noel rate that is considerably less than their normal tariff so we got pretty spiffy accommodations for a chain hotel price - nice! We also liked having our minivan safely parked in a valet-only access garage. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monetelone is interesting, but regrettably we found the music to be too loud to carry on a conversation and the drinks were a tad expensive. New Orleans is a fabulous town for eating and we did our fair share. Naturally we visited Cafe du Monde to enjoy cafe au lait and beignets. We had a late dinner on Christmas Eve at Gumbo Shop which was splendid, as was the service from our charming waiter named Will. Few places were serving on Christmas Day so it pays to plan ahead with reservations. We managed to make pigs of ourselves and enjoyed TWO full reveillon dinners, one at 11am and the other at 6:30pm. Reveillons (pronounced rev.ay.ohn) are a long time New Orleans tradition. Back in the old days this was a special big dinner prepared by a few of the local restaurateurs for the folks who would have attended Midnight Mass after fasting for several hours, and find themselves starving at 1am Christmas morning after church. Nowadays nobody is serving a reveillon in the middle of the night following Midnight Mass, but there are a number of restaurants that offer a grand, fixed menu spread during the holiday season. We dined first at Tujague's, which is the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, but to its credit, unlike the oldest (Antoine's), Tujague's never closes (well, maybe for Katrina...) so it has been serving more-or-less continually 7 days a week 365 days a year since 1856. It's always a fixed menu at Tujague's ... they don't ask you what you would like to eat, because you will have what everyone else is having. We'd looked forward to Tujague's. It was my husband's grandfather's favorite restaurant many decades ago, plus it's so old and never closes so I cannot help but imagine Edgar Degas dining here back when Tujague's was a new establishment. The food was absolutely delicious and the service impeccable. I guess they have had lots of practice because they have Christmas dinner down pat - bravo! Our dinner party Christmas night was going to be large with most everyone in town, so it was a bit tricky finding a venue that could accommodate a large group at a reasonable hour. The Bombay Club in the Prince Conti Hotel obliged. It's not the oldest game in town, so from the perspective of ambience, the dEcor and atmosphere are lovely (extremely inviting - very warm and upscale clubby) but not especially particular to New Orleans if you are looking for an "authentic" experience with musty edges. Tujague's fills that spot, as do some other restaurants that were closed on Christmas Day. To their credit however, the Bombay Club owners, Richard and Lou Fiske (I hope I have that correct) were incredibly helpful and accommodating. We told them we would have a baby and toddler in the party. No problem. Oh and a couple vegetarians who don't eat meat or seafood. They would prepare a special menu to accommodate them. And then we learned that a couple people had their connecting flight canceled at the last minute and would be arriving so late they would miss the dinner. No problem, they would reset the room. Oh and then another 5 people had a delay in their flight and would be there, but arriving late. No problem; they would catch them up when they got there. Through all these hiccups the staff at Bombay Club was gracious and friendly, serving up whopper portions of scrumptious food and doing their best to make our Christmas dinner memorable. We did plenty of sightseeing in New Orleans, but the high point was Christmas Eve night. It's a tradition that they build enormous bonfires along the Mississippi River levees on Christmas Eve to light the way for Papa Noel coming to deliver goodies for all the good boys and girls. Thousands of people come out from both New Orleans and Baton Rouge in addition to the locals from smaller towns like Lutcher and Gramercy ... and this year we were among them. Many of the pyramid structures must be 2-3 stories tall and they dot the levees for miles - as far as you can see in either direction. And at 7pm they are set ablaze - with flames shooting up to the heavens - it's a spectacular sight! We attended Catholic Mass twice in New Orleans. Midnight Mass was at Saint Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square (come way early, as we did, because it will be standing room only well before the service begins). It was beautiful. But we discovered another church just a couple blocks from our hotel, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (the Jesuit Church) which was breathtakingly gorgeous inside. If you are Catholic and like to visit churches when you travel, be sure to see this one - it's unique - almost exotic in design. THE SHIP: I was keen to sail Norwegian Spirit to experience the ship itself. We sailed Norwegian Majesty a few years ago back when she was at the end of her service for NCL so we had experienced one of the older, smaller ships, and we've sailed 3 times on their newer Dawn and Jewel class ships. I was curious to see how Spirit would compare. We loved Norwegian Spirit! She may be smaller and older than the Dawn and Jewel class ships, but we found that the "feel" onboard was closer to those ships than the "elderly" Norwegian Majesty. I can offer some specific observations and points of comparison. LOUNGES: The Galaxy of the Stars lounge on deck 12 forward would be comparable to Spinnakers on the newer ships, but guess what? We preferred Galaxy of the Stars! Both offer a panorama view by day, but what I specifically liked on Spirit is that they didn't cover the windows at night like they do in Spinnakers on other NCL ships. The lounge on Spirit is divided such that the outer perimeter with the best view is separated from the main lounge by glass panels which damp out the sound somewhat, allowing those who prefer conversation to thumping music or game shows to relax with ceiling to floor uncovered windows day and night - lovely! Galaxy of the Stars is also decorated with several spectacular ship models which appealed to my husband and me - the atmosphere feels nautical and classy. We also enjoyed Henry's Pub which has an authentic feel plus the friendly bartender doubled as a magician which was fun. Maharini's was popular with the younger members in our group as it hosted the late night disco. Although we didn't frequent the Shanghai Pub, it looked like a good time, especially when it was packed with football fans watching the New Orleans Saints play the Atlanta Falcons; I don't think anyone onboard missed a beat as the game was broadcast in several venues to cheering fans! ENTERTAINMENT: The theater on Norwegian Spirit is "old school" compared to their newer ships, so it would not lend itself to a Jean Ann Ryan company cirque with gymnasts suspended from the ceiling performing stunts above your head (those of you who have sailed Dawn and Jewel class know what I am talking about!), and we missed that. The song and dance troupe was okay (talent-wise I would compare them to a typical song and dance troupe on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity - competent but not up to Jean Ann Ryan standards which for me has always been a hallmark of NCL entertainment). But the average song and dance troupe was supplemented with a married couple of Russian circus aerialists - Maria and Dmitri - who were nothing short of superb! They were every bit as gifted as the best of Jean Ann Ryan, although limited to performing in the stage area due to the theater design. In fact, this delightful Russian couple extended their agile act in the air to include some typically Russian circus entertainment - like you would see at the circus in Moscow. Dmitri did two clever and cute comic stints, one with their pre-school son dressed in a lion costume (little Ivan melted every heart in the theater!), and one where Dmitri had the stage to himself and he did whistles interacting with the audience - sort of along the lines of Harpo Marx (only better) or other silent comedians who use sound instead of language to cut up. Both were lots of fun and lived up to my expectation of Norwegian's whimsical onboard atmosphere. There was a Second City troupe onboard which we enjoyed both on this cruise and on other NCL sailings. In addition to their show in the main theater which was excellent (very funny), they hosted improv a couple times in Galaxy of the Stars which was well attended. Our cruise director, Kyle, was first class (NCL seems to have a knack for selecting really good cruise directors in our experience) and he kept the game shows fun, plus I think he can sing Elvis better than Elvis himself! One thing I have always liked about NCL compared to other cruise lines we have sailed is the way the cruise directors and entertainers mix in with the guests onboard. If you go to a dance party, there are the dancers out there mixing it up getting people out of the floor - on this cruise they even did a Dancing with the Stars where the professional dancers were paired with passengers and they competed to become the winning couple - it was great! You might also see the entertainers out and about doing their own thing like anyone else onboard - something I rarely ever see on other cruise lines. For example, one afternoon we were outside at Raffles Cafe on the stern overlooking the children's pool. Our eldest son was out supervising his 3 year old playing in the water. Lo and behold, who was sitting on the side of the pool not 6 feet from our son but Dmitri, the Russian aerialist, who likewise was out at the children's pool supervising his own young son. That's the way it is on Norwegian Cruise Line. TRAVELING WITH KIDS: What used to be the Celebrity Disco up on deck 13 is now a teen center, and while none of our group took advantage of it as far as I know (the 15 year old was hanging out with the older kids in our group), when I popped up to give the place a look there were loads of teenagers there seeming to have a good time. We did have a 3 year old who got plugged into the Kid Zone and he had a blast! The counselor staff onboard was truly terrific with the kids - there were always activities being offered and it was quite possible for parents to have plenty of couple time with their children happy and safe in good hands. The under 2 little ones are a somewhat different story. There is an Under 2 Zoo program for babies and toddlers to go to the children's area and play, but a parent has to accompany them and I don't think my son and daughter-in-law made much use of that, although it was available. FREESTYLE DINING: NCL's signature Freestyle Dining works great in my opinion. The only dinner reservation we ever made was the first (optional) formal night to have dinner for all 24 of us together. Otherwise we relied on the electronic boards to find out which restaurants were full and which ones could accommodate us at whatever time we decided to eat, and we enjoyed eating with some people one night, and others on another night. Only once did we find we couldn't get a table pretty much as soon as we wanted one (New Year's Eve) but we still managed just fine. There are two main dining rooms that are free (included in the price of your cruise), the Garden Room (smaller) and Windows (larger). We ate in one or the other most nights and found the food delicious and the service friendly and capable. Additionally Raffles Cafe, with both indoor and outdoor dining, is available for three meals a day with all kinds of food choice variety served buffet style, the Bier Garten out by the pool serves up scrumptious hamburgers along with your favorite brew, and Blue Lagoon is a diner with a very basic (but tasty) menu and they are open serving the perpetually famished 24 hours a day. All these are free. Norwegian ships offer a variety of specialty dining with a cover charge to supplement their complimentary restaurants. We ate one night at Cagney's Steakhouse on this cruise and the meal was outstanding ... we wound up spending most of the evening lingering over dinner in a private dining room. Although we didn't get around to trying other restaurants on this cruise, we could also have indulged in Asian (including a sushi bar), Teppanyaki, French, and Italian specialty dining. STATEROOMS: The majority of our group stayed in oceanview cabins on deck 5, with only a few splurging for balcony staterooms on higher decks. NCL oceanview staterooms are not as roomy as their counterpart on some other cruise lines (Royal Caribbean comes to mind since we just sailed RCCL in August), BUT one advantage to Spirit over our experience with some of the newer NCL ships is that we at least had a chair in the cabin that pulled out to a single bed. This proved useful for our married kids traveling with a 3-year old who was not a good candidate for an upper bunk, folding out from the wall Murphy-bed style. In contrast, we had three teenage girls sharing a cabin, and they used the upper bunk in preference to the sofabed chair. It was nice to have an either/or option. While the bedrooms do not have much space, they are well designed with adequate storage in the closet and drawers. Just be sure you unpack and put everything away at the start of the cruise so you can stash your suitcase under the bed to get it out of the way. Trying to live out of a suitcase would be miserable in a cruise ship cabin. We like the design of Norwegian bathrooms. They are small to be sure and I am not sure how they would work for anyone seriously overweight, but the shower design especially, with a sliding glass door instead of a dreaded shower curtain, keeps the bathroom floor dry. PORTS of CALL: Costa Maya: This was our second visit to Costa Maya, the first being in 2005. If you have been there before, but not lately, it might be time to go back. I did not book an excursion here assuming we could pass the day inexpensively at the port facility which is designed to accommodate cruise clientele, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much the port amenities had developed over the past 5 years. Sadly it was a slightly chilly and drizzly day so we were unable to fully appreciate what was available, but Costa Maya would be a wonderful place to spend a lazy day in better weather. The beach access remains lousy if you had any hope of swimming in the sea. Last time we were there we struggled over the jagged limestone and did some snorkeling from shore ... the snorkeling was great (oodles of fish!) but it was dicey negotiating the access from the sandy beach set back over the slippery and rocky shoreline. A better alternative if you are not snorkeling from a boat is to hang out at the beach adjacent to the huge pool with its swim-up bar and tiki-style restaurant watering holes nearby. A new addition since our last visit is their dolphin pools built into the limestone right on the shore. A couple of people in our group did the dolphin experience here and appeared to have a fantastic time, but it was nice for the rest of us too because it was easy to hang out and watch. Roatan: We had never been to Roatan before since this port is new as cruising goes since our last Western Caribbean cruise. We loved it! Curiously, Roatan reminded both my husband and me of Tortola and similar Eastern Caribbean ports in the mountainous topography of this relatively small island. We did the Gumbalimba Park Pirate Cave shore excursion, and enjoyed getting a tour of the entire island getting to and from Mahogany Bay where we were docked. Gumbalimba was great with lots to see and do, but here's my caveat. The shore excursion plopped us into a tour with a guide, and while she was excellent and the tour was interesting, personally if I had to do it again, I would have bailed out of the tour and set forth to do my own thing. We didn't for fear that it would mess up getting back to the ship with our group, but the way it worked, after schlepping along with the group the whole time, we were set free to catch any shuttle back to the ship on our own anyway. I would prefer for the tours to be available but optional, while providing a map of the park for those who prefer to do their own thing - note: such a map is available at the Gumbalimba website: http://newgumbalimba.homestead.com/home.html We got a kick out of the friendly spider monkeys and the curious macaws, but in addition to the wildlife (more tame than wild here), there is also ziplining, snorkeling and snuba, kayaking, and just plain lollygagging on the beach or at the pool. Belize: Like Costa Maya, we had been here before on a cruise in 2005. I was astonished at how much Belize City has changed for the better! Cruise tourism has evidently pumped plenty of capital into Belize and they have wisely improved their infrastructure to make the port more appealing. Belize City is still tendered, but the shuttle boats are larger and in much better condition and the crews running them are on the ball: efficient with a good sense of humor. The city itself also isn't nearly as run down and seedy as I remember it from five years ago. Last time we were here we went cave tubing and it was good fun, but we decided to do something quite different this time around. We booked the Wildlife Adventure excursion and I cannot say enough good things about it. The day was divided into two parts. We started with a boat ride up the Belize River ("old" river as opposed to the "new" river) where our guide, Simone (who was terrific!) spotted crocodiles, iguanas, and howler monkeys and we'd zip in close to see the animals hanging out in their natural habitat. Following the river cruise we were treated to a tasty lunch at a camp style kitchen along the banks of the river, then loaded onto a bus and driven to the Belize Zoo. You know this zoo is different from the one back home when you enter and the first thing you see is a giant anaconda napping in the sun ... just lying there out in the path such that you could accidently step on it if you were not paying attention. A staffer was on hand for photo ops for anyone interested in having the lethargic snake draped around your neck. I passed on the opportunity myself, but a couple of the teenagers with us couldn't resist. The zoo is small by US standards, but the animals are right there, not removed 40 feet away. We got to feed tapirs, stand close enough to howler monkeys to get them mad so they'd bellow ferocious warnings to back off, and we saw a variety of big cats (jaguar, puma, ocelot etc) who seemed as interested in the visitors as we were in them. One animal that stands out was the Harpy Eagle, which was HUGE. It looked as big as a good sized dog sitting there; it was hard to believe it was real. While we were watching it remained perched, occasionally flaring its tail feathers and crest and squawking at its audience as if to demonstrate who's boss. I cannot imagine seeing that bird in flight. Cozumel: We have been to Cozumel a few times, but it's a great port of call with lots to see and do and we never tire of popping in again. This time since we had a good-sized group of varying ages we elected to book privately at Nachi Cocom Beach Club: http://cozumelcruiseexcursions.com/cozumelbeachbreak.htm Nachi Cocom was wonderful, and I would go back again in a skinny minute! It's a private beach so it's not overrun with a bazillion tourists. Your excursion gives you all day to enjoy this tropical paradise at your leisure. There's no blaring music so you hear the calm of lapping waves on the beach. Guests are assigned a waiter who's task it is to bring you snacks and as many drinks as you desire from the open bar ... all included in the price of admission. Also included is an outstanding 3-course meal which you may eat whenever it suits you at the cantina, pool-side, or have your waiter bring lunch to your chaise under a palm tree. Life is gooood! Some of us booked Palancar snorkeling in the package (see the website for details), but the water was quite rough and I am afraid we didn't see much (although others who took a scuba diving shore excursion in deeper water on Palancar reef had better luck); in 20/20 hindsight I would have preferred to skip snorkeling at Nachi Cocom and enjoyed a couple extra free pina coladas at the beach instead! Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about Norwegian Spirit or cruising in general. Janet LeBlanc "ALBE" on Cruise Critic JBFLeBlanc@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
One day on the elevator, someone got on and said, "if you're not having a good time, you have no one to blame but yourself." He was absolutely right. A perfect cruise? No, and there were some glitches and minor complaints, ... Read More
One day on the elevator, someone got on and said, "if you're not having a good time, you have no one to blame but yourself." He was absolutely right. A perfect cruise? No, and there were some glitches and minor complaints, but we had a great time. This was our 7th cruise, but our first on NCL. Previously we've been on Holland America and Cunard. We booked with a Travel Agent as part of a larger group, and were attracted by price, time of year, itinerary and even a chance to try "Free-style". After booking, we were soon part of the "Beads to Beans" roll call, which enhanced our cruise experience. We flew in to New Orleans on the day of the cruise, and our TA had buses ready to take us to the ship. We had a very good experience with this Agency, and they arranged a couple of cocktail parties and some more informal get-togethers while on board. The Tour Director was always available. Embarkation was easy, as our TA had arranged for the 100 or so of us to go right in. Once on board we found our way to Raffles Court, (the buffet) for a quick lunch. Afterwards we went to our cabin. The muster drill was the first time we didn't have to wear life jackets -- probably a good thing, as poorly tied jackets are a hazard when walking to the assembly area. J Our luggage was outside the room by the time we returned. OK, the cabin was small. We adjusted, doing a kind of dance around each other when going in different directions. There was a TV, but not a flat screen and no DVD player. Not a big deal. I found room under the bed for most of our cases, keeping one out under the desk. There was a coffee maker we used once. We have sometimes used room service for breakfast on other cruises, but the table was too small for two people, so we ate in Windows every morning. I used the small balcony sometimes, my wife not too often. The keypad on the safe had some worn numbers, and someone had used Magic Marker to compensate, but the safe worked just fine. There was adequate storage and closet space. As for the shower--see "glitches". The first sea day was the CC Meet and Greet. What a great group! There must have been 150 of us, we had a gift exchange, refreshments were provided by the ship and several of the Officers including Captain Evans Hoyt attended. We didn't do the CC poker crawl, but did the "Slots of Fun" in the Casino. I managed to get to some of the 5 PM get-togethers, as well as some of the games playing in the afternoon. The food was generally good to very good. My wife is a seafood lover, and enjoyed every time she tried it. One time it was lobster and shrimp cooked by the pool. I thought they did well with beef, the desserts had a light touch and the coffee was very good. We were disappointed in the Italian dishes. We ate in La Trattoria one night. Every afternoon they close off part of the buffet and set up an Italian restaurant, and it works. The staff was very friendly and the service very good. We both ordered different pasta dishes with different sauces. The sauces were quite good, the pasta average. One night in Windows I ordered the tortellini, and it was chewy, not "al dente". Another night my wife ordered the eggplant, and all there was was one piece of eggplant. No pasta as a side dish. She asked for a second order, and the server seemed to understand why. The last night of the cruise we tried the Asian Fusion restaurant, and were quite happy with the food, service and ambiance. The staff was generally friendly and usually efficient. Our stewards were Joel and Ariel (might have misspelled his name), and they worked hard. The officers were visible, especially the Captain. We liked the flexibility of choosing when to eat, but missed knowing the same waiters every night. And who could forget "Happy, happy, washy, washy" as you entered Raffles? We applied for the "meet the officers dinner", and were invited. A number of people from our M&G were there as well. We had champagne in the Art Gallery, then wine was served with dinner in Windows. We and two other couples were seated with the Shore Exchange Director and his assistant (Garret(?) and Lisa). We learned how they had come to be on the Spirit, and discussed enrichment programs on board ships as well as several other facets of cruising. We must have had a good time, as our table was the last to leave. The ship is quite attractive, although there were a few places that could have used some paint, but I noticed they were constantly working on her whenever we were in port. The atrium is beautiful, although crowded with shopping tables on sea days. The theater is very well laid out, with fewer sight obstructions than I've seen on other ships. There are these small public places, such as Henry's Pub, that seem a bit quirky but can also be charming. We didn't use the Library or the Internet section. The pool was often crowded due to the beautiful weather, but we always found a seat. It is not covered, and was empty the one day it rained. We discovered Raffle's Terrace at the aft of the ship. It actually is several layers between Decks 10 and 12. The CC'ers met there a few times, as there are covered areas as well as sunny areas. The kid's pool is on deck 10, but there is also a hot tub that we used a few times. I got a massage at the Spa, and tried the treadmill once, but preferred the Promenade Deck for walking. The entertainment was the best we've seen in our seven cruises. We didn't see everything offered, but as an example, one night we saw a comedian in Galaxy of the Stars, then went to the theater for the "Elements" show (outstanding), then back to overlook the atrium where we listened to a musical concert including the Pax's favorite, Arvin and Emily, violinist Jane Hunt and the house band, Fusion Wave. All in one night. Another highlight was a troupe from Second City, who put on several shows. On sea days there was always a lot to do. I did some trivia, some putting and some basketball. My wife enjoyed port shopping lectures and a chef's lecture. We also saw some matinee shows in the theater. In fact, we couldn't do everything that we wanted to. PORTS: Costa de Maya, Mexico. We had an early afternoon tour, so we disembarked after lunch. The cruise area part of the port was attractive and well laid out, but we only had time to get in line for an air-conditioned bus to ride to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins. We drove through a hot, somewhat desert-like and impoverished area for about an hour with the only excitement being a Mexican Army checkpoint. We had an excellent tour guide who gave us a lot of information on the area. The ruins were in a more jungle like part, and several buildings had been discovered underneath the flora. The primary attraction is a large pyramid, not as impressive as those often seen on postcards, but certainly high enough when you climb it, only to discover there are more areas to climb once you think you're "on top"! The flora was certainly different than at home. One of the things we saw was a sapodilla tree, used in the manufacture of chewing gum. ("Chicle" is the sap of the tree. That native word is the origin of "Chiclets" as a brand of chewing gum). The tour took a little more than two hours, and when added to the round-trip time, that would put us back at the pier after the last call for boarding. Our guide assured our group that they wouldn't abandon seven bus loads of passengers. (Think what the casino and bar managers would say! J ) We boarded the ship about 15 minutes before the scheduled sail away. Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala Another long bus ride to see more Mayan ruins, but well worth it. The town was more populated than Costa de Maya, and the vegetation much more lush. An occasional horse would wander by while we were in town. The ride to the ruins was an experience. The area was much more tropical and lush than Costa de Maya, and a lot more populous. We drove on a two-lane highway crowded with many trucks, mostly from fruit companies. Our bus passed several of these trucks, it was better not to look. There was a wide, paved area next to the road on each side, and on the way back there were several school children walking home while traffic whizzed by at about 60 miles per hour. Our destination was the Quirigua Ruins and Jade Museum. This ancient Mayan city is near the Motagua river, and once controlled trade along the river. The primary feature is several well preserved stelae covered with glyphs. There was also a higher mound (more climbing) where the nobles had lived. There was a small shopping are. My wife explored the Jade Museum, and thought it was nice. On the return trip we stopped at a restaurant for a fruit drink, and you could obviously make other purchases. There was also a small nature trail. Our guide was excellent. His Grandparents had come from Spain, but his Mother was Mayan. He was able to connect the various cultures of the country for us, as well as talk about its recent history. Aruba We took the "Best of Aruba" tour offered through NCL. Several people had described Aruba to us over the years, and it was as advertised. Very friendly. Beautiful , somewhat dry and its famous "divi-divi" trees bent from the prevailing winds. We saw the attractive Capitol of Oranjestad, areas where the locals live, the Aloe factory, the Hotel district, the lighthouse and the "wild" part of the Island where no development is permitted. We left the tour once back in Oranjestad, and did some shopping before returning to the ship. Curacao The Spirit visited on a Sunday, and most of the shops were only open for a couple of hours. Such is life on a Repositioning cruise. Our excursion was in the PM, but we got off just after 9 AM to explore. We discovered the pontoon bridge which connects both sides of the inlet in Willelmstad. I was crossing it when the bells rang and the gates began to close. I made it to the other side and was on shore when it began to move sideways to open the channel for some large tug boats. There is a free ferry which operates between the two sides when the bridge is open, but it showed no signs of moving. In the meantime, my wife was on the other side, watching frantic tourists realizing they were trapped on the bridge! An enterprising vendor stood next to the gate, offering to sell them water or soda. Very soon after the bridge shut and re-opened. After we did some shopping. Our afternoon excursion was a bit disappointing, it was a very touristy, Disneyesque "trolley train" First they took us by taxis across a very high bridge that connects the two sides, then dropped us off for the trolley. We did get a decent tour of the city, and the highlight for me was when we passed a family group eating their Sunday meal outside. Everyone in the family waved to us, and two young children ran up to us with big smiles on their faces. The trolley dropped us back where we had picked it up. It was near the pontoon bridge, but we were tired and chose to take a waiting bus back to the ship. Bermuda We did this on our own, as we've spent some time here before. We weren't aware of any problems with the ship being delayed, as we planned to go in after 9 AM. We were surprised to find the 700 passenger ferry was still available when we went to disembark. Once onshore we bought bus passes, and headed off to St. George. Riding a bus in Bermuda is an experience as everyone is so friendly. There were other cruise passengers on the bus, (they might have been from another ship), and when we stopped in St. George the bus driver told us all where to catch the return bus and which numbers to get on, and then said, "Now, everyone repeat that." We saw a bit of a public celebration, wandered through some shops, then caught the bus back for Hamilton. Part of the way back we got off at the Swizzle Inn. This is a famous local landmark and right up the hill from a resort we'd stayed at previously. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful country, and we ate lunch on the outside, upper deck. Then we caught a bus for Hamilton, and did some more shopping in the city. Then we were in the long, long, line for the ferry. It must have taken some two hours from entering the line until we were back in our cabin. But we stayed on the top deck of the ferry enjoying the weather while waiting for hundreds of others to file off the boat. "Glitches" -- just two. 1) The night before Aruba we were told that the tiles in our shower needed replacing, and would we call the front desk to OK for the next morning. We called and agreed. We left early the next morning, but when we returned from our excursion in mid- afternoon, there was a note on the door informing us that the tiles needed fixing, and could we call the front office?! We did, and someone said "we'll investigate this". I simply replied please fix it, we'll be out of the cabin by 9 AM to go into Curacao. The tile guy was there about 8:40 the next morning. I also talked to the room steward who had identified the tile problem, and explained what had happened. 2) The ship offered a $24.95 laundry special for everything you could stuff into a bag, over a specific six day period. We did so. The day after the laundry was returned (they did a great job), I did a mid-cruise check of the bill, and found they had charged us the regular prices for the laundry. I notified the front desk, in person. After not hearing anything, I checked the bill again a couple of days later, no change in the price. Another "investigation"! This time our assistant room steward was involved, fortunately he seemed to know to get things done, and the bill was corrected. So we had to give the front desk important messages twice in each instance before any action was taken. But then we'd turn on CNN and see what was happening in Europe with the volcano, and our problems seemed rather trivial by comparison. Disembarkation was easy. We met our TA in the Casino about 9:30, and we all headed off about 10. We were waived through customs, got our luggage and headed for the buses. In Summary; we had a great time. The weather cooperated, the CC group was great, our travel group was fun, we enjoyed the itinerary, the entertainment was outstanding, the food generally good to very good and there was always something to do on sea days. A couple of glitches and small cabin size were only minor irritations. We liked the flexibility of "Freestyle" dining. We would sail NCL again. We would sail the Spirit again with the right itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We had a great time, cruising in a group is the way to go. Always something to do and somebody else that wants to do the same thing. We had 4 cabins all together. My mom and I were next to each other and between the 2 rooms all 3 ... Read More
We had a great time, cruising in a group is the way to go. Always something to do and somebody else that wants to do the same thing. We had 4 cabins all together. My mom and I were next to each other and between the 2 rooms all 3 kids slept both places different nights. My brother got a suite for him.wife and the 3 kids a cabin right across the hall. Everybody had plenty of space, was very impressed with the amount of closet space and the bathroom was nicer than expected! The kids club was a huge hit with my kids. All 3 of them! They would usually attend each night after dinner from about 7-9pm. The staff was excellent and always so friendly and loved being with kids from what we could see. If it wasn't really fun, my kids would not have been so excited each night! Our FAVORITE port was Belize city...we did cave tubing and had the BEST guides ever. Don't book thru the ship, they had 1 guide for about 50 people (on your own) and you can't take kids under 12. With www.cave-tubing.com we booked and they had us in 2 groups of 10...one guide for each 10 people! Our kids were on our tubes with us. Totally safe and slow river but even more safe with a guide for each 10 people. Slow easy going river, not scary! My kids enjoyed it and we did too, what a fun day! The people in Belize were the most enjoyable we encountered on the trip, we want to vacation there next year! Our least fav port was Costa Maya. Don't buy souvenirs there, SO HIGH! Crazy high prices (sun block $18!) and I gave a lady a $20 for 2 cokes and she acted like I gave her a $10 but I caught it right away and she was still holding my $20 and acted all "Sorry" but 2 other people in our group had the same thing happen there...be careful! Guatemala was fun...went to the day at Aramatique, was great. Booked thru the boat and enjoyed it. A fun family day. Lots of water slides and pool swimming. Kids had a fun day and we did too. Relaxing and a nice lunch was included. recommend! Loved the ship, Cagney's steak house was worth every single penny of the upcharge, loved it! Wonderful food and the best wait staff. The Asian, so-so, and the Italian...so-so. Our first cruise and we will be going again, what a wonderful way to vacation! Our spring break was 1 week earlier than most so it wasn't crazy crowded...the boat was nice and we had a great time and the staff was all super friendly. Just one photo guy wasn't but maybe he was having a bad day! We parked our car at the offsite port parking http://www.nocruiseshipparking.com/ WONDERFUL and very secure, unlike the port parking we heard lots of break ins happen there since the crooks know you are gone for a week! Enjoy your trip! Kari Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We flew into New Orleans on Saturday and stayed at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was a nice hotel in a nice location. We were able to walk out the front door and get to just about anywhere on foot. NO was an interesting place to visit. ... Read More
We flew into New Orleans on Saturday and stayed at the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was a nice hotel in a nice location. We were able to walk out the front door and get to just about anywhere on foot. NO was an interesting place to visit. I can now say I have been there, but I know I never have to go back (unless I am getting on a cruise there). I guess it is just not my cup of tea. The embarkation went very smoothly. We got to the port at 12:30 pm and were on the 12th deck enjoying a drink by 1:40 pm. That was our second drink...the welcome champagne was a nice touch. Our rooms were ready about 3:30 or so and our luggage arrived by 5:00. I liked the fact that the check-in procedure was done in the terminal building and not on the ship (like on the Jewel out of Miami). It seemed much less crowded this way. We ate dinner the first night at Cagney's. It was delicious and the service was wonderful. It was especially nice because our travel agency picked up the tab for all 52 of us. During our dinner we started the trek down the Mississippi River. I wish that it would not have been dark so that we could have seen some of the landscape. The first sea day was quite rough. As soon as we entered the gulf (around 1:00 am), the waves picked up. The ship channel in the room said that there were 15 - 20 foot waves. Aside from the waves, the weather was beautiful (78 and sunny). We spent the day relaxing on deck 12. Roshan, our favorite bar service person, took excellent care of us. We were able to sign up for a drink package because of the size of our group. It was definitely worth it. If you like to drink on vacation, look into this option. I think we paid about $320 pp to drink just about anything we wanted for the entire week (water and soda also). It was a great way to unwind from the business of packing and traveling. During the day, I was also able to meet some of the CC members I had been communicating with the past year. It was finally nice to put a face with the name. Costa Maya was our first port. We did not have an excursion planned, so we shopped a little and then relaxed on the beach right near the port. It was a nice day, but nothing to exciting. Again, the weather was amazing (about 83 and very sunny). On Wednesday we were in Guatemala. This port does not have a lot to offer, so I would recommend doing an excursion of some sort. There is shopping right off the ship, but not a lot. We did the waterfall tour through happyfishtravel.com. It was a nice tour. Our group only had 5 people in it in addition to a driver and a guide. The guide was informative and friendly. I don't think the driver spoke English well, but he did smile a lot. They always made sure that one of them was in the front and one was behind us. The waterfalls were pretty as was the rain forest. We were lucky because it had rained quite a bit the week before. During our van ride to the rain forest, we traveled through a number of cities and got a pretty good idea of what life is like in Guatemala. It is a very poor country, but the people are very proud of their country. As we left port, they gave the ship a great send off with dancers and all the taxis flashing their lights and honking their horns. No other port does this. On Thursday we were in Belize. I can't tell you much about Belize because we did cavetubing as an excursion and that took up a large amount of time. It was a fun excursion and I would recommend shoretrips.com. The guides were friendly and had some good info. to share. I liked the cave tubing, but the water was sooooo cold that I had a tough time truly enjoying it. I was shivering the entire time. On our way back to the ship we stopped at a little restaurant and had a lunch that was included. It was good. The weather was once again 83 and sunny (except in the caves). We shopped a little before tendering back to the ship. Friday in Cozumel, we went on a catamaran and went snorkeling. I signed up for a 3 hour tour, but it ended up being 5 hours. I was OK with that, but some of the group I was with were a little upset. We signed up through cozumelcruiseexcursions.com. Again, they had a very nice staff who made sure that you were safe in the water and that you had fun on the catamaran. We snorkeled at two different reefs for 40 minutes at each reef. On the way back (1 1/2 hours to sail back to the dock) they provided soda, beer, margaritas, and fruit. It was a nice time. The water in Cozumel is so beautiful. We stopped at Margarita Ville for a snack before doing some shopping and heading back to the ship. It was another day of sun and 80+ degrees. On Saturday, the last sea day, we woke up to some clouds. I was a little sad. But by 1:00 pm, the sun came out, the suits went on, and we relaxed one last time in gorgeous weather. That night, we headed into the clouds as the sun went down, and it provided the most amazing sunset we had had all week. It was the perfect ending to a great vacation. During our time on the ship, we ate a couple different restaurants. For breakfast we always ate at the buffet. It has a large selection of food. The omelet and waffle stations are excellent. I also enjoyed the selection of fruit. We usually at lunch on deck 12. The burgers and fries smell good while sitting in the sun. For dinner, we ate at Cagney's, the Italian restaurant, Windows, and Main Dining Room. I liked the specialty restaurants. I felt the service was better at Cagney's than in the Italian restaurant, but both had very good food. I also enjoyed Windows and the Main Dining Room. The was a nice variety of choices. The lobster nights (Tuesday and Friday) were also good. Feel free to order two right away. They really don't mind. Overall, I felt the food was very good. There were some things I did not like, but then I would order something else. When we woke up on Sunday, we were already in NO. It was foggy and cool out. The gloominess made it easier to want to head home. Getting off the ship was very easy. Our tag color was called at 9:45 am and we were on our bus by 10:45. Customs was not a problem at all. I think they had 4 or 5 people working. Very smooth. The ship was a nice ship. I liked the size of it. It never felt crowded even though it was full. The decor is nice. I liked it better than the crazy decor of the Jewel. It was always very clean. Our room stewards did an excellent job. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. I would sail on the Spirit again. We had a wonderful time. Thank you to the staff of the Spirit for making me feel at home away from home. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
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

Find a Norwegian Spirit Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click