Great literary but older/dated ship

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review to Europe - Northern Europe

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 26

Overall rating:

4.1 out of 5
Verified Review
Norwegian Spirit

15 Night Ultimate Baltic (Stockholm To London)

Sail date: August 17, 2019

Ship: Norwegian Spirit

Cabin type: Inside

Cabin number: GTY

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

Would have like a newer/better ship but ports were awesome! Hit every country on the Baltic Sea and more. Great bucket list checking :)

Embarkation

5 out of 5
easy and quick since not that many people onboard and we got there early

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
Food is typical for cruise ship. Sit down dinning is great but buffet is more flexible and varied. Do both for maximum value. 4. Pro: Food was excellent in the seating dining. People were friendly and accommodating. 5. Pro: The buffet provided a nice mix of choices. We loved the late night crepes guy desserts! 6. Con: None of the menus provided anything spicy/hot or exotic. We would have loved to have some Indian/Thai options in the main dinning rooms at night. - Con: NCL now charges for room service orders :(

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
In general the activities were dated from the 90's. Typical cruise foddle and the older ship did not allow for better features like electronic bookings. 8. Pro: The 4 hot tub area in the main/middle deck was well done and we always found a spot. 9. Pro: The heated main deck salt water pool was a great idea. I’ve found that most ships to not heat this area (although I cruise mostly in the Caribbean so that might be different than the Baltic) and it was great. Also the area was used a ton more than any other cruise I’ve been on.

Entertainment

4 out of 5
In general decent but could have been better (see comments below): 3. Pro: Main Stardust entertainment (at 7 and 9pm) was excellent. I liked the variety and value. I know on a 1 week cruise we might have only seen the performers once so it was interesting seeing them all perform twice to see what depth they had. 12. Con: More variety was needed in the entertainment. 13. Having comedians (with kids friendly and adult shows would have been excellent. We loved the comedians on Carnival and choose them for several cruises over NCL since they provide a great way to extent the night and provide activity on the ship after the main 7/9pm shows are over. We provided this comment on many NCL cruises and were very happy when you launched the Headliner series). We started choosing NCL quite consistently after this change was made since it really helps to liven up the night and get people out and about. Also comedians seems to be very reasonable entertainment and they can be changed with different ships to rotate them so they are fresh. I know you will say that this caters to English speaking people and this cruise was in Europe so it wasn’t chosen (I know this since the program director said this to us when we brought it up). To me this is NOT a great reason since most of the passengers spoke English. Plus ALL other entertainment was done in English. Please provide comedians on EVERY cruise! 14. Con: No dueling piano show. My wife and I loved the piano players that provide late night entertainment by playing requested songs for tips. On previous NCL we LOVED this show and would do it every night before we went to bed. The energy and dancing this provided was excellent and we missed it very much on this cruise. Once again this seems like a low cost option since I bet the performers salary are mostly if not all tip based so NCL is our nothing. 15. Con: No entertainment requiring reservations. While I don’t like making reservations, I think this was a sign of events that were are older and outdated. Having escape rooms and Who done it shows (that have size limits for participation) would have make us more engaged. As it was most if not all nights were, get back from excursions, go to hot tub to relax, eat at sit done diner, go to 7:30pm show, and back to room to try and find a show to watch before bed.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Pro: People on ship were great. The chef in the Windows dinner saw that I ordered 2 small appetizers for dinner and took it upon himself to increase the portion size of my smoked duck in order to make it a meal without me asking. He then came out to the table with our server to provide a personal touch. I did submit a comment card for this for our server…I forgot to do one for the Windows chef since I didn’t know his name. Please congratulate him for me.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Spirit is an older ship (of which you are aware) but the overall “feel” of the cruise was from the 90’s. I’ve sailed on NCL for many years and an mow Platinum thanks to the longer trip. Unfortunately many things seemed like they were dated 20 years ago. I know you are dry docking the ship in Jan so I how you do a good job to make this a more modern vessel to increase overall customer satisfaction. 7. Con: Ship deck layout was poorly used. Much of the top deck on the ship was unutilized for customer use. (a) In the aft was a helipad area with had permanent guide wires over it so that helicopters could not land anyway so the space was wasted. (b) Also the front of the ship was large round radar devices that were walled off so that only a small gang-like plank was accessible for forward viewing on the outside. (c) the only real view in the aft was on deck 8 and this was restricted for suite/haven owners so a rear was unavailable to most people. (d) there was a kids splash area that took up the entire aft of the ship. This was really wasted space for this cruise since for a 2 week cruise that overlapped school starting the average age was much older. Thus selecting a newer/better ship with more usable area would have been better. (e) no adult only area existed on the ship. This seems like an issue since most people were older adults and the area might have been used a lot. 10. Con: In our inside cabin there were protruding gold night lights on both side of the bed about 8 inches off the mattress. This were poorly designed. We frequently hit our head on the when getting into the bed (I wonder how many medical reports are filed due to this feature). During the night our arms would almost rest on the so we’d have room. The worst thing is that the light had CFL’s in them and got hot. It seemed to be a fire hazard since pillows could easily cover then and ignite. I burnt my arm on them once after the light was on for a while and I rolled over. PLEASE REMOVE THEM AND PUT IN FLUSH MOUNT LED LIGHTS AND SWITCH! 11. Con: The TV channels sucked. We found ourselves spending much time in the room at night and the TV programming did not help make us happier. Here are some suggestions to improve. (a) have on demand movie selection options. This would allow people to watch what they want, when they want in keeping with the NCL free style philosophy. (b) if on demand is not possible then stream more movies over unused channels. There were at least 6 channels without anything showing (that you’d need to go over anyway when channel surfing) so why not fill with more options? (c) TV reception on live channels was bad. I know this is a function of ship reception but it seems like with a decent dish and caching hardware this could be eliminated or reduced. (d) Provide channel that shows only excursions for ports on the trip that you’ve not been to and that NCL offers. There was a channel kind of like this but showed many other destinations so really an infomercial.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
would have been 5 star review but protruding lights over bed were terrible design which we hit with heads and burn our arms.

Ship tip

They are dry docking in Jan for upgraded but think seriously about picking an old ship since you pay as much as newer ones and get less features, amenities, and programming. This itinerary was fabulous and we wanted to take cruise despite possible ship short comings.

Ports of call

Stockholm, Sweden

4 out of 5
Large city with free wifi. Didn't spend much time there but like most Scandinavian countries it is very clean but costly for everything.

Helsinki, Finland

3 out of 5
- Port a little way from city center – 30 min walk (this will be a reoccurring theme for my comments to transportation planning is helpful) - Nice park/walkway from bay to Royal Palace. Farmers market in bay then can walk/shop up park to Royal Palace. - We have free tour here but missed it since NCL docked 1+ hour late. This happened a few times but only this tour was impacted. - City somewhat boring. Nice to walk around a bit. Supposedly great architecture but seemed forced/over designed.

St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

5 out of 5
- You need to do a tour to even get off the boat but you need one anyway. We did with Viator and saved 50% verses NCL. - Packages are usually 2 days (that is needed for city). You can do night ballet but we didn’t and glad since expensive (so do in Wisconsin) and we were exhausted after 8 hour tour. - Saw Catherine Palace (which is beautiful). Once again cruise/private tour had special access that saved hours verses commoners. - Saw Gardens of Peterhof which is great but a lot of walking to see it all. - Day 2 saw Hermitage (huge art museum) on it’s day off (Mondays) so the few ship tours had free run of the place and it was AWESOME! - Took cruise on 40 person boat in river which is nice. They have wool blankets you can use incase cold. - Ate at some place in city. Entire cruise port was build and run by mafia. All tours are with them so tourist trapish but no other options.

Tallinn, Estonia

3 out of 5
- mostly disappointing may be since it was just after Russia so all their palaces/gardens seems lame. - Did bike tour here but we’d just rent bikes or extend bike rental after tour so you can stay in city and enjoy. - City center smallish and mostly walkable from port. - Things were suppose to be cheaper here (heard shopping good in other sites) but we found to be same / more expensive. Bought some amber earrings (since major item) but only 10-13 euro.

Riga, Latvia

4 out of 5
- Did great free alternative walking tour here and loved it. Did NOT cover old city but OK since mostly tourist trap now. Your started at noon so spend morning looking at old town site which few people around. - City walkable from port. - There are 4 old zeppelin hangers at south end of city that turn into food markets. This is a must see and was past of the tour. It would have been nice to spend more time there but we usually don’t eat much off ship (to save $ and avoid stomach issues). But I would have bought some smoked fish there since the seafood hanger was cool.

Klaipeda, Lithuania

3 out of 5
- Did Russian Missile Silo tour here. It was interesting but not sure we’d do again. Had lunch at a traditional place that was nice. - City center not that impressive or well laid out.

Gdynia (Gdansk), Poland

5 out of 5
- Gdynai is 45 minutes from Gdansk but it’s worth the trip since that is a nice town. Do a free tour in the city since town is quaint. - Uber works in Poland and cheaper than taxi. Might have public transportation too. - We went golfing here at Tokary Golf Club but it was a cow field. There is another course there too and I’d choose that next time. Our drive was 30 mins and we had Uber guys stop at grocery stores to get beer/liquor for day and to sneak back on-board. NCL checks the hell out of all luggage for liquor in beginning but ours did not seem to care about liquids when boarding in ports. We could have smuggled anything onboard and Poland 1st good place for cheaper options.

Rostock (Berlin), Germany

5 out of 5
- We went golfing at Henkel & Lares in Warnemunde and the course was awesome. Great club rentals and everything German perfection. - Cruise port is actually in Warnemunde that is a cute town and had ocean frontage plus nude beaches! - Rostock is 30 mins away and a waste from what people say. - Berlin is a 2.5 hours train ride each way and for me is way to long. - We took public trans (bus) to place and had a small walk. You can get day passes for cheap. - Hit town after golf and loved it. Not sure a full day spot but it was cool. Had VB courts and interesting sights but small town ocean city shopping/eating feel.

Copenhagen, Denmark

5 out of 5
- Cruise port long ways from town. Public buses work but 9:30 bus start schedule lead to long lines are stop. Go to hotel to right and get on bus for hassle free journey. - Copenhagen has multiple free tours and they were great. Go on them and see the city.

Oslo, Norway

3 out of 5

Ijmuiden (Amsterdam), Netherlands

5 out of 5
Cool city with many things to do and interesting people. Well worth the time exploring.

Zeebrugge (Bruges), Belgium

5 out of 5
Bruges was a quaint city with a large but nice layout. Enjoyed touring there and eating at interesting restaurants . - Go to Bruges. 1+ hour away and cute city. Brussels about the same but much further. - We walked to grocery store near port and got tram/bus tickets to beach area. Then need to get on another bus (or get train tickets) to Bruges. - Note: Get beer at grocery store since cheapest on whole trip and excellent since Belgium makes great and high quality beer!

Le Havre (Paris), France

3 out of 5
Typical small town for France. Beach area is interesting.

Southampton (London), England

5 out of 5
London is clean, beautiful, and historic....will take next vacation there.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Walk off service is great free styling!
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