Freestyle Cruising doesn't work

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western

Experience: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 0

Overall Rating:

3 out of 5
Verified Review
7 Night Exotic Western Caribbean (New Orleans Roundtrip)
Sail Date: March 15, 2009
Ship: Norwegian Spirit
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Traveled As: Family (older children)
Reviewed: 9 years ago

A very nice ship, well-decorated and well laid out. Cabins were comfortable. But everything that was touted as a feature of "freestyle" cruising was a disaster. Rather than battle the lines, we either ate dinner at 5:30pm, or paid to eat in one of the cover charge restaurants. The freestyle disembarkation meant waiting about an hour and a half to get off the boat and up to the customs desk.

The itinerary was interesting, but not particularly exciting. The port in Guatemala had great shopping, but only on the heavily armed compound. I overheard a conversation about an abduction taking place at one of the beaches. I never heard anything official about it, but I would not have been surprised. We took a trolley tour of Puerto Barrios, and while interesting, it was not a scenic or historic town, just a large city of impoverished people who stared at you as you went by.

The tender at Belize took well over an hour to get on at the boat in order to take a long (30 mins?) ride into the town. The shopping there was not nearly as inspiring, and leaving the shopping area meant going through heavily armed checkpoints with people on the others side yelling to you to come over for "tours of the city".

Costa Maya was like stepping into a Disney shopping area, with nice buildings, well painted, etc. Probably some nice "fun in the sun" activities, but we didn't venture beyond the shopping area.

The crew was very friendly and happy to do most anything to make you comfortable.

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Apart from being told there was a one-hour wait, and that you could only get reservations at 5:30 or 8:00pm, the food was pretty plain. Raffles buffet had pretty much the same thing at all times. Pay the money for Cagneys, and book the Teppenyaki place early. NCL gives priority to previous cruisers and those staying in expensive cabins, and it is difficult to be seated there. I heard the Bistro was fantastic, but never made it there.


3 out of 5
Really liked the Second City group, though their shows seemed short. The main theater is an excellent room, but secondary theater is flat and it is hard to see the show unless you are up close.

Children's Programs

1 out of 5
If you have kids I do not recommend this ship. Very small kids might be okay, but there was not much for teens to do. Our teenagers mostly wandered the ship. Our 8-year-old, who is generally very happy to do most anything, hated the kids club. He said it was boring and did not want to back after the first day. On our last cruise (Princess in Alaska) we had to drag him out of the kids club every day, and he would complain about when he could go back. Our teenagers were the same way on that cruise because there were video games and movies, etc., that kept them occupied and not out wandering about the ship.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Enjoyed the staff all over the ship.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The ship was very comfortable and had some nice areas to relax in. I especially liked the Raffles court area which overlooked the back of the ship, the children's water park. The casino was large and friendly. The Bingo was a disaster because of the sale of "electronic bingo" machines which might be the latest rage but I had never seem them before. People buying the machines were playing over 100 bingo cards at a time. As a result, games ended after just a few numbers were called, and the winner was almost always someone with a machine.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Comfortable cabins. The bathroom had a divider between the toilet and the sink area which was helpful. Cabin stewards were friendly.
3 out of 5
Shopping was fun. Vendors are aggressive, but will generally accept half of their initial asking price. If you like haggling, you'll like this place.
3 out of 5
Very interesting shopping in the makeshift mall right at the port. Beyond that, I would not venture out without an armed guard.
3 out of 5
It takes too long to be tendered from the ship to the town, so don't plan on doing more than one thing. Snorkeling at the reef was really nice. Strong currents made it difficult for my small child.
5 out of 5
Lot's to see and do in this port. We went fishing and caught barracuda.

Pros: Nice ship, friendly crew

Cons: Waiting in line for dinner

Recommends Norwegian Spirit? Yes!

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