The 807-seat Stardust Theater (Decks 7 and 8) hosts colorful, lively production shows performed by the ship's singers and dancers and accompanied by a live orchestra, plus guest vocalists, magicians, comedians and other crowd-pleasing performers. With its plush red-velvet seating and opera-house ambience, Stardust Theater is one of the prettiest show lounges we've seen at sea. Two decks create a slant and great sight lines in the main section, but sit in the balcony on Deck 8 if you think you might want to leave early. Otherwise, you will have to walk toward the stage and slip out in front of everyone watching the show. In addition to the show productions, the theater hosts visiting performers and is the venue for the highly popular International Crew Show.
Make your own fun with a game of shuffleboard or join the staff for activities such as trivia, towel-folding lessons or sports competitions. Around the ship there are art auctions, hosted tastings (for a fee), chefs demonstrating the art of carving fruit, health and well-being seminars or popular games such as Deal or No Deal (which carries a fee to play). As is the case on most ships, some activities aim to sell passengers shore excursions or spa packages, but there is no need to buy.
Norwegian Spirit offers an impressive number of bars, lounges and entertainment venues for such a small ship. In the evening, much of the action takes place on Deck 7, which houses the exotic Maharini's Lounge & Nightclub, which is accessed through the casino, the Shanghai Bar and Henry's Pub. Musical performances by cover bands, piano players, guitarists and other musical acts take place throughout the ship, with a musical mood to suit every passenger.
Located midship on Deck 8, Maharaja's Casino features slot machines and roulette, black jack, craps, Texas Hold'em and Caribbean stud poker tables. Smoking is permitted in the casino, and the smell of cigarette smoke permeates the venue, which could rule it out for nonsmokers.
There are plenty of bars to choose from on this ship and each one has a distinct theme and matching decor. It won't take you long to find a favorite, whether you prefer the cosy atmosphere at Henry's Pub, the elegant Champagne Charlie's or the eye-popping decor at Maharini's Lounge. Bar service is friendly and efficient and you never have to wait long for a drink, even at peak times.
Maharini's Lounge & Nightclub (Deck 7): With its Indian-influenced decor with fancy chandeliers, velvet curtains and plush couches, this eclectic lounge bar combines the lush decor of a Bollywood rom-com with the relaxed vibe of a nightclub's VIP Room. After 10 p.m., things get lively with a DJ spinning tunes and plenty of dancing.
Shanghai Bar (Deck 7): This sports bar, which also has an Asian twist has big-screen TVs showing soccer matches and other suitably sporty programs. It is located in a thoroughfare, with people walking through the bar to reach other parts of the ship, which makes it a good spot for people-watching.
Henry's Pub (Deck 7): Sipping a pint in this cosy, English-style pub, it's hard to believe you're in the middle of the ocean on a cruise ship. This convivial bar is the place to come for beers on tap and a game of darts and a chat with fellow cruisers. This was our favorite spot for live music in the evening with entertainment provided by a soulful guitarist and vocalist who enjoyed joking with the crowd.
Champagne Charlie's (Deck 8): A musical trio or pianist is typically found tickling the ivories in Champagne Charlie's, which serves, not surprisingly, Champagne plus wine and cocktails. The art deco decor and delightful music make this bar the perfect spot to kick off a romantic night out.
Galaxy of the Stars (Deck 12): The ship's observation lounge is a winner, offering views from floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. Window seats are the perfect spot to sit and stare mindlessly at the sea (that is, if no activities like bingo are going on in the space at the time). Black and cream decor gives this bar an elegant look and ship models in cases highlight the lounge's subtle nautical theme.
At the front of Galaxy of the Stars, you can head down the stairs and snap a photo as you pretend to steer the ship via the captain's wheel that's positioned there. For the real deal, head down the circular stairway, and peer through a glass window at the captain and officers on the bridge.
Raffles Terrace Bar (Deck 12): This bar is predominantly used by passengers dining indoors or outdoors at Raffles Court. It's a nice spot to enjoy a drink with ocean views outside peak dining times.
Tivoli Bar (Deck 12): If you're lying by the pool and feel like a drink, this bar has a selection of popular beverages, including frozen cocktails.
Bier Garten (Deck 13): This outdoor bar has an Oktoberfest vibe and serves an international selection of beers, cocktails and other drinks. The beer selection is nothing special but it's a lovely place to sit when the weather is good.
Norwegian Spirit has one large outdoor pool surrounded by deck chairs and outdoor sunning spaces on Deck 12. You will also find four shaded hot tubs here. The main pool is large enough for laps if you get there in the early morning before it gets busy. On Deck 10, the aft pool is the ship's family hot spot with its pirate-themed water park for children, complete with two kiddie slides that elicit squeals of delight from young revelers.
Buccaneer's Wet and Wild is a pirate-themed water park that younger kids adore. It's got a pool that's surrounded by caves and a mountain, two small water slides that require entry through a tunnel and even a children's hot tub. An amphitheater with views over the whole scene allows parents to sit and watch their kids play while enjoying a cool drink from the nearby Raffles bar. Children must be toilet trained to use Buccaneer's Wet and Wild. No swim diapers are permitted in the pools on Norwegian Spirit, including this one.
A delightful feature of Norwegian Spirit is a real wooden promenade that wraps around the entire ship on Deck 7, something you rarely see these days. This one has shuffleboard and a few traditional wooden deck chairs for lounging, as well as some tables and chairs. Venues on the Promenade Deck, including the Shogun Asian restaurant and Henry's Pub, have store-like marquees fronting the wooden deck (although the real entrances are inside), making it feel as if you are strolling down a street instead of at sea on a cruise ship.
For joggers, there's a track up on Deck 13, near the net-enclosed basketball court. Six times around equals a mile. Nearby are four cages for driving golf balls. Deck 11 is the place to go for Ping-Pong.
Most of the sun deck space can be found on Deck 12 around the pool, but peaceful sunning can be found on the deck chairs at the front of the ship on Deck 13. The wraparound Promenade Deck also has a few deck chairs but you need to get there early for these, especially if the weather is less than ideal.
Head to Deck 7 for guest services and the shore excursions desk. On Deck 8 there are shops selling logo merchandise, souvenirs and sundries. Duty-free items, including jewelery, alcohol, fragrances, cosmetics, watches and sunglasses are also available. You will also find the ship's conference rooms and Photo Shop and Photo Gallery here. Photographs are arranged by date for passengers to peruse, with packages available from $149 for 10 prints. Individual photos cost $29.95. You will find the entrance to the art gallery directly opposite Le Bistro, on Deck 7.
On Deck 12, the library does double duty as an internet cafe. Though it has a few shelves of books, the computers, which face the ocean, are the main attraction. Internet access is priced from 99 cents per minute or blocks of time, such as 125 for 250 minutes, can be purchased. Unlimited packages, such as a social media plan for $14.99 per day or an unlimited premium Wi-Fi plan for $34.99 per day, are also available but must be purchased for the entire cruise. An unlimited package is your best option as the internet speed is very, very slow.
Other public rooms include a writing room, card room and lifestyle room, all of which are popular with card players and those who enjoy board games, which are available to borrow at the library. There is also an indoor smoking room on this deck.
A doctor is available in the Medical Center on Deck 4. There are no self-service laundrettes onboard, but you can pay to have your clothing laundered for you.
The Roman-themed Mandara Spa is operated by Steiner of London and has separate changing rooms, relaxation areas, steam rooms and saunas for men and women. While men have a cozy indoor area as a relaxation room, women get a more expansive space with large windows. Spa treatments feature Elemis and La Therapie products and include hot stone massages and toning body wraps. Expect to pay $129 for a 50-minute Swedish massage or enjoy a facial from $122. Specials are often available on port days, or if the spa is not busy on a particular sailing.
The gym on Deck 12 is large, especially for such a small ship, with treadmills and bikes that face floor-to-ceiling windows so you can watch the ocean as you work out. Weights occupy one corner, and there's a mirrored area for free and for-fee fitness classes. Classes where charges apply include Pilates, Tour De Cycle and yoga. Prices start at $12 for a 45-minute class.
Splash Academy on Deck 10 caters for kids aged 3 to 12 years, with children divided into three age-appropriate groups: Guppies (6 months to 2 years, with a parent present), Turtles (ages 3 to 5), Seals (ages 6 to 9) and Dolphins (ages 10 to 12). While the rooms in Splash Academy are huge, with loads of room for youngsters to run around and practice their circus tricks, the area would benefit from an upgrade. There are no climbing tubes and tunnels, ball crawls, cubby houses, big screens for watching movies together or colorfully decorated spaces like those we've seen on other ships. Hand-painted murals, plastic storage boxes of toys stacked around the edge of the room and tables for arts and crafts aren't going to cut it with many kids, especially those in the 10 to 12 age group. Gaming options include a few Nintendo Wii consoles hooked up to flat-screen TVs. Friendly, well-trained crew act as camp counselors for the kids and make up for many of the space's shortcomings with their genuine enthusiasm. However, a refurbishment is well overdue.
Splash Academy does not charge for daytime use, and toddlers in diapers are welcome, but only while their parents are onboard; parents are given beepers and notified when their child's diaper needs to be changed. If your non-potty-trained child wants to go to Splash Academy while the ship is in port, a parent or authorized pickup person must remain onboard to assist with diaper changing.
Group babysitting for children aged 3 to 12 is offered late at night (10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and when the ship is in port (so parents can go ashore). The cost is $6 per child, per hour, and $4 per hour, per each additional sibling in the immediate family. Private in-room babysitting is not available. A fee of $6 per child applies for the supervision of meals on port days.
If you are traveling with kids, the Splash Academy program for your child's age group will be delivered to your stateroom on the first day of the cruise.
Parents must accompany Guppies, who have a play area with plush toys and bright colors to keep them entertained. Unlike some other parts of Splash Academy, this area looks welcoming and fun, with shelving displaying toys in different themes such as farm, jungle or balls.
Turtles (ages 3 to 5) have a program of activities including story time, superhero dress-up parties and fairy tale parades. Seals (ages 6 to 9) can participate in role-play games, learn circus skills such as scarf juggling and plate spinning, and get crafty with arts and crafts. There's also free time for things like Wii gaming and freestyle play. Dolphins (ages 10 to 12) do similar activities to the Seals. Children aged 10 to 12 are able to sign themselves into and out of the club with parental permission after they have spent a minimum of two hours in the program.
Hours vary depending on when the ship arrives in port but on sea days Splash Academy is generally open 9 a.m. to noon, 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m., breaking for lunch and dinner. Kids are welcome to join at any time during these sessions. They can also skip a session or two or get signed out early and hang out with the family.
While the younger children's area could do with a refresh, teens on Norwegian Spirit will have a ball. They now control the Celebrity Disco, giving them their own private hideaway on Deck 13, at the opposite end of the ship from the younger kids' facilities -- something teens will, no doubt, hold over their younger siblings. The teen lounge is decorated with slinky couches and chairs from the area's original days as the "Celebrity Disco" and features foosball, air hockey and a Nintendo Wii U gaming console with loads of multiplayer games. Our teen tester gave Entourage, the Norwegian Spirit teen's club experience, top marks for its programming, activities, cool hang out space and lively staff. With most days spent in port, Entourage is a hit in the evening with teens eager to spend time with like-minded peers.