How to find peace on a party boat...
Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review to U.S.
Ship: Norwegian Spirit
Cabin Type: Balcony
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 8 years ago
Biggest prep advice: arrive early to the pier to board. For some reason, the cruise industry hasn't discovered that people are paying for the whole experience, not just what happens on the ship. The ship leaves at 4PM, but massive security/check-in lines had accrued by noon with at least an hour's wait. It's a chaotic, disorganized mess, and you'll be rewarded by getting in line and on the boat very early. No access to rooms till 2PM, so you can sit on deck and read or have a drink or two before the place gets swamped.
On board: it's a matter of personal preference, and I know I am in the minority about this: there are too few times and places on the ship that are quiet and peaceful enough to just stop and appreciate the serenity and beauty of the ocean. It's a one-night cruise, so understandably many guests are looking to pack in loads of activity. For those rare few who are looking for a personal, reflective experience at sea, this is obviously not the way to go. If you're into mediocre but plentiful buffet-style food and don't mind navigating through tremendous crowds to get to it, or if you love gambling and listening to "Margaritaville" six or seven times an hour... then you'll have a blast!
If you do happen to be the reflective sort, I highly recommend the getting a stateroom with a balcony and planting yourself there. For food, check the monitors for the restaurants with cover charges and the most availability, pay modest charges and make a reservation. For drinks, nobody seems to go to the martini bar near the lobby on Deck 7. And when pulling away from New York, the upper outside decks get very crowded and obnoxious; hang out inside the empty Galaxy of Stars bar for decent drinks and good views sailing out of the city; it's not open-air, but you'll have plenty of time for that after folks head inside for drinking and gambling in the evening. Wake yourself up and get to your balcony at 2:00 or 3:00 AM and you'll be rewarded with an ethereal view of the sea lit to the horizon by moonlight. The cruise returns early, so get up with the sunrise and when you open your eyes, if you're on the right side of the ship, you'll see a gold-hued Manhattan floating past you. Everyone else is either sleeping, hungover, having breakfast, or some combination of the three, so if you take in the view from the balcony till the ship is docked, you'll still be the first off the boat and the first customer in a good brunch spot in the city (maybe Pigalle at 8th & W 48th).
Pros: Stateroom balconies; awesome waiters
Cons: Tacky Spring Break-like events & crowds