I have previously sailed twice...

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western

Contributor Level: Third Mate
Reviews: 3
Helpful Votes: 10

Overall Rating:

3.0 out of 5
Sail Date: June 05, 2011
Ship: Norwegian Spirit
Cabin Type: Inside
Traveled As: Singles/Friends
Reviewed: 6 years ago
I have previously sailed twice with Carnival and once with RCL and had great experiences on each with the RCL ranking a notch above the other two. As this was my first experience with NCL I was both excited and anxious for this trip. I will preface the review with my family and I had a great time on our vacation.br /
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We travelled to New Orleans the day before the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome location. The decision was made primarily on the fact that they offered complimentary shuttle service to the majority of NOLA areas we were interested in visiting, complimentary shuttle service to the pier, and complimentary parking in their parking garage. That said, the day of the cruise we checked out of the hotel at 10:15, shuttled to the pier, arriving at about 10:30 and by 11:00 we were checked in and seated in the waiting area. We were on the ship within 30 minutes where we were welcomed by cheering crew members and an impressive atrium area. Upon embarkation there are areas for shore excursions, specialty dining, art auction, golf lessons, basically everything you might need. This is good as the state rooms would not be ready until 2:00 and this information is regularly shared over the ship#39;s communication system.br /
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As for the ship, overall, she is in very good shape. The Spirit was well kept in the majority of areas and they are borderline germaphobic on this ship with sanitizers and such throughout. After embarking and taking a quick look around we went to have lunch at the Raffles buffet. In my opinion the buffet was lacking. The food selection was decent but the food was average at best. That said, it is a buffet and unless you are some place like Vegas a buffet is just that. If you spend any time in or around Raffles the terms Wakey Wakey, Smiley Smiley, and Washy Washy will become a punchline by the end of your cruise. We ate at Raffles only a couple of other times and more so out of necessity (which I will explain later) than anything else.br /
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Once our stateroom was ready we went to drop off our carry on luggage and begin the unpacking process as our bags arrived. We had an inside stateroom in the back of the ship on deck 9. I do not recommend anything on deck 9, Aft (rear), starboard (right when facing forward) as it is directly under the kids club. This was my error in booking this room and not a knock on NCL although I think the kid#39;s club could take some measures to mitigate the stampeding elephants heard on my ceiling nightly. Generally the room was adequate. There were a few minor problems that were resolved within 24 hours after I left my Dear Prem note. Prem is the hotel director for the Spirit (at least for our cruise). The stateroom appears to be the area where the Spirit does show her age a bit. Nothing to ruin a cruise over but worth noting that there was some rust/water stains in the bathroom, some staining on one of the walls (appeared to be red juice of some sort) and things of that nature. Additionally, the room sleeps four but they pull one bed out from under another and someone basically sleeps on the floor. The two twins either could not or would not be pushed together to make a full/queen so the sleeping arrangements were not ideal. They are replacing the phones in all of the staterooms so we received a new phone. We had a broken leg on the desk which was repaired and a lipstick stain on the desk chair which was re-upholstered. As a result I felt very comfortable with the condition of the ship, the stateroom steward#39;s service, and NCL#39;s ability to resolve issues quickly and effectively.br /
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Our dining was limited to Raffles (buffet), Windows (dining room), Blue Lagoon, and Bier Garden. The food at Windows was good. One side of the menu was the same daily and the other side changed daily giving a good variety throughout the cruise. Special note, if you are a lobster eater, when you see it on the menu get it because it is the only time it will appear on your cruise. The service on the other hand was average at best. The freestyle dining is great in that you can work your meal time around your schedule, you can choose to dress up or not (dinner dress code is not enforced) but you miss the personal attention of the same server you get with other cruise lines. The food at the Blue Lagoon was great but the menu is very limited. Bier Garden is fast food and buffet style and was decent. If you get the pretzels when they are fresh they are wonderful; otherwise, not so much. Overall I thought the food was very good and had no complaints. The only issue I had with the dining in general as on days when we were docking at 8:00, Windows did not open until 7:30. If you had an early excursion as we did, you were forced to either order room service the night before (very limited options, continental breakfast choices) or go to Raffles. I recommended via the Dear Prem box that NCL seriously look at changing this setup as Raffles was a madhouse on days with early docking.br /
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The entertainment on board is one of the biggest areas for improvement on this cruise. We saw the Welcome Aboard Show on the first night of the cruise and it is basically a teaser to display what the rest of the week has to offer. OK but not spectacular. Jorgos the magician has a slightly different spin on a lot of the same old tricks and takes too long getting to the trick so his show tended to drag along. Comedian Bill Hildebrandt was the class of the entertainment on board in my opinion. On day 2 we saw the On Broadway show featuring the Spirit singers and dancers and this was one of our favorite shows. On a side note, the female singers far outclass the male singers. On day 3 Duo Volgyi performed. This is circus variety show but if you have ever seen a Cirque show this will definitely disappoint. I may be in the minority but both my wife and I thought this show was slow, dull, and not entertaining. Day 4 featured Bill Hildebrandt and he was hysterically funny and clean which is a rare combination for comedians these days. Day 5 featured the Chicago improv group Second City. I missed this show; however, my wife and son both enjoyed it. Second City does an R rated show on the last sea day which per my wife was not nearly as funny as the clean show on day 5. Elements on Day 6 is the Spirit#39;s big production show featuring everyone but the comedians. It was good but was not spectacular. On the last night, the farewell variety show featured Jorgos and Bill Hildebrandt. Jorgos was slightly more entertaining but again his bit seemed to drag on and Bill H was great again.br /
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A couple of other mentions, the aquaswims, steam rooms, and saunas in the spa are complimentary and if you actually want to swim I strongly recommend the aquaswim. This is a swimming treadmill if you are not familiar with it. The Tivoli pool was generally crowded with people who had over indulged themselves and acted the part. The adult only feature is also not enforced. The Buccaneer Zone for kids is great for the younger ones but not so much for your tweens which is probably why the Tivoli age limit is not applied. That said, my son did not get to use the pools much as I did not want him in the Tivoli, he was too young for the aquaswims and he did not like the Buccaneer Zone. Adult beverages are expensive on this ship and my wife who does like the occasional adult beverage found a couple of good bargains. The Pub Crawl, 5 drinks, 5 bars, $25 and the International beer tasting, 5 glasses of 5 different international beers for $15. The other big negative is that there is a lot of extras available but only at an additional cost. Whether it be booze, classes, specialty dining, alternate menu items (Blue Lagoon) it jsut seems to be more in your face with it than other carriers. If you are not careful this could make what was booked as a very reasonable family vacation a nightmare by the end.
span class=messageBody data-ft={type:3}Two other notes I just thought about. The jogging track on deck 12 is a joke. It is maybe two feet wide and winds and zig zags throughout the deck including through deck chairs, the Bier Garden and throw in the random jaunts around obstacles. Walk the promenade deck instead if you plan using out door cardio. Also, the casino has low table limits except Pai Gow which is available only on request and at $25 per hand. The video poker machines are the tightest I have ever seen (6/5 machines or 8/5 if you move up to the high dollar machines). My video poker friends will know what those numbers mean. The hold em tournaments have low limit initial buy ins ($60) but they have unlimited re-buys during the first hour which allows a person with a bankroll to bully other players hoping for the luck flop, turn, river./span
Disembarkation was just as painless as embarkation. We chose to stay on ship and have a nice breakfast so we procured the luggage tags for the approximate disembarkation time, placed them on our bags which had to be outside of the room by 1:00 am and did not worry about it after that. Once they called our color, we were off the ship, picked up our luggage, through customs, and back to the hotel to get our car within 30-45 minutes.br /
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Overall as I mentioned before we had a great time but we have had better service and generally better experiences on other cruise lines.span style=display: none/span

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Windows, Blue lagoon good. Bier Garden, Raffles not so much

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Aquaswims, Sauna and Steam room complimentary


3 out of 5
Jorgos and Duo Volgyi were slow and not very entertaining. Comedian Bill Hildebrandt was great. Singers and dancers were serviceable.

Children's Programs

3 out of 5
Kid's club workers were overheard commenting about hating their jobs, the 10-12 group was put in an ten minute "time out" because of the actions of 1

Service and Staff

3 out of 5
Dining staff slow and not very attentive, stateroom steward went out of way to resolve our issues

Cabin / Stateroom

Small, bad location (under kid's club), 4 independent beds

Recommends Norwegian Spirit? No.

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