Norwegian Spirit Reviews

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40 User Reviews of Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship

Western Caribbean
Publication Date: May 15, 2011

My youngest daughter turned 21 this month and wanted to see Bourbon St in New Orleans as a 21 year old. We decided to take her and three friends from college to New Orleans for an afternoon and evening there, and sail out of New Orleans on the Norwegian Spirit for 7 days to Costa Maya, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. I have booked lots of customers on this ship for this year and wanted to see it firsthand. I recalled that it was originally Superstar Leo sailing in Asia for Star Cruises, NCL's parent company. It was renamed and moved to NCL about 6 years ago and renamed Norwegian Spirit. It began in Alaska, and later was doing alternating 5 and 9 day Caribbean cruises, and I had looked forward to sailing on it.

We have sailed on Norwegian Dream, Star, Jewel, Pearl, Sky (twice), Epic, and Pride of America out of 64 total cruises. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every one of them. While my wife is a traditional cruiser, we like Freestyle Cruising, dining whenever we like. My wife dresses for dinner no matter what line we

are on, and we enjoy music for listening and dancing, especially ballroom style.

After the necessary stops in New Orleans at Acme Oyster House, Bourbon St in the afternoon and evening, dinner on Decatur Street, and morning coffee and bengiettes as Café DuMonde Sunday morning, we arrived at the cruise terminal about 12:30pm. The ship had been a bit later arriving due to the high water in the Mississippi. By arriving then, and thanks to a Latitudes embarkation desk, we were promptly processed and aboard before 1pm. The cabins were to be ready by 2pm, but they began calling them by decks about 1:45pm. We did the customary tour of the ship and taking photos before the bulk of passengers arrived in order to get good photos of all the venues.

Our cabin was a category BA balcony on deck 11. Storage drawers were at a premium, and there was only one bedside table, but there proved to be adequate storage in the closet, on shelves in there, and in some drawers below the coffee/ice counter. TV did not have interactive account monitoring. There was the usual coffee maker, but no refrigerator. I especially like the way most NCL bathrooms are set up, with the toilet in one side of the bathroom with a door closing it off, the sink in the center, and a shower stall to the right with a sliding door. The condition of everything was fine. There was a little marking in some of the shower tiling, but generally everything was very attractive.

The four girls were in an inside cabin on deck 10, and it had two twins, a Pullman, and a rollaway. Interestingly, they didn't have the partitioned bathroom, and the bathroom seemed roomier therefore.

The fact that the ship was designed for the Asian market originally is only really noticeable on the deck where the Steakhouse, and Asian/teppanyaki restaurant is located, as even the steakhouse has an oriental décor. The teppanyaki table only seats 40 per night, and must be reserved starting at 8am the day before. It fills up fast. They were offering discounted pricing at all the specialty restaurants during May and June, and although we had originally thought we might use one or two, we all found the food in the main dining rooms excellent, with good variety, and ate there every night. Sometimes my wife and I ate by ourselves and sometimes with the girls. They ate in the Windows dining room every night and loved the food and service. We ate in the Garden dining room one night and while the atmosphere was more subdued, the service was not as good and the glare of the entry to and from the pantry/galley by the staff caused repeated distractions and lighting. That was not the case in the Windows dining room, where the service was outstanding. The Maitre De', Louis P, stopped by every night to talk with my wife and me and even gave me his card with his phone number. He even arranged a surprise birthday cake for my daughter and on another night a cake for the girls who had just graduated. The girls enjoyed a water nicknamed “Naughty, Naughty” and managed to request and get him assigned every night. To give you an idea of the food, my wife eats seafood every night and loved the selection. It started with lobster and shrimp the first night, and she never had to repeat the fish choice once. My daughter, a bit picky, loved the salmon on the always available menu and had it three times. I enjoyed lamb twice, osso bucco, English loin, turkey, and a sirloin from the always available menu that was excellent. They even had gravlox and escargot as appetizers.

The Garden Café, the buffet area on deck 12, had at least 4 different stations preparing eggs to order in the morning, as well as all the normal stations. Seating on the starboard side on the rear was below the basketball court, and I don't recommend seating there. There was amply staff and supervision, the tables were promptly cleared, and we never experienced any difficulty finding seating. At night a portion of one side of the Garden Café is closed off and becomes the Italian Trattoria, with appropriate décor and lighting.

There were three excellent production shows, one with a touch of the Circe' style, an illusionist/magician who did several shows, and some comedians. I was very pleased with the quality of the shows. There were so many activities during the day that we were interested in that we couldn't do them all. A wonderful couple, Arvin and Emily, entertain in Champagne Charlie's most evenings, and even participated in one the afternoon shows. The orchestra throughout the week did sessions in the Galaxy club on deck 13 and in Champagne Charlie's. That is our kind of dance music, and we loved it. There was the customary “White Night” one evening in the Galaxy Lounge, plenty of late night activity in Maharaja's Night Club, and even a toga party on the pool deck one night. The ship is easy to get around, and the only confusion I had was that the theatre is all the way aft, instead of forward like on most ships. I'm not a fan of lots of announcements, and thought there were a lot on this ship.

Debarkation on NCL ships is my favorite: you don't have to vacate the cabins until about 10, you don't have to drag carryon's to breakfast, and everything goes very smoothly. They did have colored tag announcements, but everyone is off between 9 and 9:45, or earlier if they can carry their own luggage off.

A word on ports. In Costa Maya my wife and I decided to skip the cruiseline developed port, but walk outside and observe the new shops set up out there, even a Senor Frog's, and then took a taxi for $2 per person into Mahahual, the nearby local town that was devastated by a hurricane in 2007. It has recovered and we walked the entire boardwalk to check it out. We found that you could get an hour massage for $20, or go snorkeling for an hour including gear for $20. Price for 2 margaritas, 3 beers, and plate of nachos on the beach in free tables and lounge chairs was $21. Check out http://www.sandalsandskis.com/Tropicante.html You can even reserve space in advance there. We were fortunate that there was only one ship in port.

In Roatan we chose to try Bananarama Resort. For $30 per person they pick you up in a van, take you to the resort on the beach on the West Bay were the other resorts are, and include a drink and a chair all day. For $5 more they include snorkel gear. There is an excellent snorkeling site and reef that you can walk into the water and swim out to, nearby. The best snorkeling I've found in Roatan. Lunch for 6 and a few beverages was only $73.

In Costa Maya, instead of reef snorkeling….my favorite….we did ca ve tubing. There are many companies offering it, including the cruise lines. We had been referred to one that offered a private van transfer (about 1 hour each way), a guide and after 30 minute hike to the cave, the tubing, followed by good buffet lunch, and the ride back. There is a place to change to dry clothes.

In Cozumel, the girls wanted to see Chankanaab National Park. I found a coupon online for $2 per person discount. They now require all swimmers to use life vests, which they will provide free. Snorkel gear is $10 per person. We did observe the free sea lion show up close and observe the dolphin encounters that are now included in the entrance fee. The NCL ships berth at Punta Langusta pier, right downtown, across the street from Carlos & Charlie's (downstairs) and Senor Frogs (upstairs).

In summary, we had great food, outstanding service and entertainment, more activities than we could participate in, excellent weather, and one of our best seven day cruises in quite some time. The Norwegian Spirit is a GREAT value. The ship is even scheduled for a refurbishment later this year and is scheduled to sail in Europe next year.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 19, 2010

First let me say that I have been on over 20 cruises with various lines. I read the Cruisemates reviews and wonder how people can write negative things about cruise ships we have really enjoyed. Bottom line, I'm very positive. But while cruising on NCL's Spirit I had to work very hard to remain positive. Embarkation started out terribly. The ship was three hours late getting in because of a medical emergency and so debarkation was late making embarkation really behind schedule. The lines were understandably very, very long and NCL didn't have the people to process as quickly as needed. It took over two hours and a half of standing in line to finally get on the ship. It was the worst I'd ever seen, but still, understandable. What surprised me is the only recognition of this mess was a brief apology by the Captain at one of the shows. I think one free drink would have been a nice gesture or at least something to acknowledge how miserable the experience was. Very poor public relations!

Our cabin was on the 9th deck with a veranda. The veranda was the smallest

we have ever seen and the cabin at 170 square feet was really small when we folded out the hide-a-bed for my daughter. The room became wall-to-wall bed. Storage and drawer space was at a minimum so we had to live partially out of our suit cases. They need more drawers and cubby's, but the room was so small, it isn't a real possibility. When compared to Carnival, Holland American, RCL, or Princess the rooms were significantly smaller and more crowded.

The ship itself felt small. The public spaces were small for the size of the passenger size of the ship. The buffet area was always jammed and tables scarce. We often had to eat outside, which was OK because we were in the Western Caribbean. The Lounge Show area, Galaxy of the Stars, was really small and over-used. When they had a lounge show (Second City) the place was jammed and sight lines were really bad. Seating was extremely limited.

Anytime dining worked much better than we would have expected as we only had to wait in line one night. We had avoided NCL since they started the "Free-Style" approach but for getting a table, it worked. The food was at best uninspired and mediocre. They had a fixed menu with about five items they served all week. I think this made them feel they could limit the nightly menu to only 5 or six choices. I won't say that every meal was awful, I did have a couple good items, but the selection was just not exciting. One night I had the 8 ounce New York that was on the every-night menu because there was nothing I wanted on the menu. Eight ounces may be an exaggeration. It was more like a small steak you'd get on a steak sandwich at the local diner. If they pushed it to 12 ounces it might have been better.

One night we went Cagney's, the specialty steak house with a $25 extra charge ($35 if you wanted the lobster). We were on RCL's Mariner of the Sea's in March so we compared the two steak houses. No, comparison! The one on Mariner of the Sea's was a 10 while Carney's was a 5. I had to send my steak back twice as I ordered it rare and it came out medium to medium-well.

In several reviews I read people say that the passengers were a little lower class than experienced on other ships. I know that sound s snobbish, but I have to agree. I think the Free Style concept must appeal to people who have little sense of taste. On the one "Formal or Not Night"(Remember, in "Free Style" cruising you do whatever you want) I saw a few people dressing nicely but I observed only one other man wearing a tux. We sat next to people in shorts and a t-shirt while we were dressed in formal attire.

Several reviews talk about how cruise ships are constantly trying to sell things. NCL takes this to a whole new level. They have so many extra activities that are available for a fee, you begin you wonder if anything is included in your fare. I expect this on every cruise ship, but NCL really makes it really annoying.

On a positive note, the entertainment was the best we have ever experienced. The shows were all wonderful and the dancers are the hardest working group I've ever seen. This alone could almost make me consider going on NCL again. Note, I said almost! But seriously, the shows were the best at sea.

The crew was also extremely good. They were extremely friendly and warm and seemed to be enjoying themselves. The joked with the passengers and laughed a lot. The group leaders on the ship and the people in HR for NCL should be recognized for assembling a great crew. I wish we had assigned dining times and tables as I would have loved to really get to know the servers better but with "Free Style" we had different servers every night.

We had a great cruise despite the shortcomings of the ship (Spirit) and the mediocre food. We enjoyed Mahogany Bay (Roatan) because we just walked down to the beach and relaxed. How can you not have a good time when it is December and you are sitting on a beach in 80 degree weather when it is 25 degrees at home.

One last positive comment. The shopping consultant, Riishi, comes off kind of arrogant during his presentations. But, we met him in Diamonds International (Cozumel) as we were looking for a new diamond and he was an incredible help. He really knows diamonds and if you are considering a new diamond you must talk to him and enlist his help. Or, maybe not, as our cruise ended up being very expensive.

Bottom line, I want to recommend NCL because I liked the people and the shows, but there are so many better options out there. I believe that NCL really needs to enlist a group of experienced cruisers to form a focus group and give them feedback on what they can do to improve.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: April 11, 2010

Our room steward service was excellent. However we thought the food a little bland. We took an inside cabin which we will NOT do again. The entertainment was superb. But we found the Port & Shopping Consultant, did not live up to all the things he said. We were disappointed with the raffle system which sometimes never took place. But all in all,the cruise was definitely worth it for the price.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: April 4, 2010

We recently arrived from a week vacation aboard the NCL Spirit. We had a wonderful time. We were a group of 10. My wife and I with 3 teenagers (14, 14 & 15), my adult sister and another family with 2 adults and two kids ages 6 and 8. There was enough to do for everybody. My kids loved the teen club, my friends loved the excursions they booked through the cruise and my wife and I loved the fine dining, ship activities, the shows and the port of call we went to.

I would mention Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala as my favorite place. I booked a tour at the pier, with the local people to see the town of Livingstone and the Rio Dulce. It was a great trip. The Guatemalans are very nice & humble people with deep Mayans roots. We went to a school founded and run by volunteers out there in the middle of nowhere that was an eye opening experience.

The Port of New Orleans is very easy to maneuver and the Mississippi River was great to navigate. Overall the NCL Spirit experience was a

positive one. The only minor thing I didn't like was pushy selling they have most of the time.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: April 4, 2010

We recently arrived from a week vacation aboard the NCL Spirit. We had a wonderful time. We were a group of 10. My wife and I with 3 teenagers (14, 14 & 15), my adult sister and another family with 2 adults and two kids ages 6 and 8. There was enough to do for everybody. My kids loved the teen club, my friends loved the excursions they booked through the cruise and my wife and I loved the fine dining, ship activities, the shows and the port of call we went to.

I would mention Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala as my favorite place. I booked a tour at the pier, with the local people to see the town of Livingstone and the Rio Dulce. It was a great trip. The Guatemalans are very nice & humble people with deep Mayans roots. We went to a school founded and run by volunteers out there in the middle of nowhere that was an eye opening experience. The Port of New Orleans is very easy to maneuver and the Mississippi River was great to navigate.

Overall the NCL Spirit experience was

a positive one. The only minor thing I didn't like was pushy selling they have most of the time.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: January 10, 2010

After 5 NCL cruises we have stricken NCL from our cruise line list. We cruise fairly frequently, at least 2x per year and have had about 20 cruises. Our NCL ship, the Spirit, was leaving New Orleans the night of Jan 10, 2010 for Western Carribean. Instead of enjoying the exciting night departure, we were below decks standing in line for an hour and then having our suspicious luggage searched for alcohol under the pretense of a security search looking for weapons! Clearly, the crew, who fondled through our clothing and personal items, pulling out clothing, my tuxedo, etc., were searching for alcohol. Their sensor equipment apparently identified container-looking items and the bags, ours and others, were marked with the suspected items -- "alcohol," was marked on bags everywhere. My wife and I always bring fine wines to enjoy with our dining room meals on cruises. We pay the usual corking fee in the dining room, just as we do when we take wine to land-based restaurant. We have collected wine for years and usually look forward to cruising in order to enjoy some special labels at dinner. From my observation watching

others' bags being opened, and my own, and rifled through, at least half the suspicious alcohol containers were discovered to be other items. In our case, one of the containers had Zatarins spice purchased in New Orleans.

This rather crude welcoming really set the tone for the rest of the trip. After pulling our bag apart, the foreign baggage handler found one bottle of wine and gave me the choice in broken English of paying the corking fee then and there, or having the bottle confiscated, to be picked up at the end of the trip. If there were no corking fee involved, of course, you didn't have the choice. I paid then and there my $15.00. Those many who chose to pick up their bottles of wine or alcohol later, were made to stand in line again at the end of the cruise to pull their bottles from a box and be signed out.

After over an hour in line then being searched, missing the sendoff, we were finally left to carry our own baggage up to your room. Just unbelievable! I refused and insisted the ship's personnel bring the bags, for which we had contracted, but they would not do so before 8:00 p.m., I was grudgingly told. (My wife later complained to ships personnel, so we did get our bags earlier than 8:00 p.m. and had time to dress for dinner.)

This episode was fairly typical of the loss of quality experience on this ship that we had previously been accustomed with NCL. It had been one of our favorite lines, but now is crossed off the list. Ships crew were generally unfriendly and seldom a smile or glance when passing in the hallway, quite different from our entire past cruising experiences. It seemed something was amiss. NCL has become the Denny's of cruising, appealing to the less experienced masses; not a way to spend a future vacation when there are other really fine lines available for the same or less cost.

Other observations: no enrichment lectures. All classes and enrichment talks were focused on selling products, and emphasized drinking liquor or wine, or expensive alternative restaurants.

The dining experience was lacking, without personal interraction with the waiters, etc., due to the open dining -- no assigned tables. NCL has become sort of a Wal Mart experience, and you can expect, at least on this ship, to be treated as though a dollar mark is inscribed on your back. Moreover, the standards for dress in the dining room were abominable, with men wearing caps and T-shirts to evening dinner, as well as excessivsly loud borish drunks carrying on in the dining room.

And forget about formal night. Aint any such thing on NCL. It is not even announced in the daily guide, and ship's staff were uncertain when we inquired. I did wear my tux once -- for my wife's sake -- but I was out of place amongst the casual dressers and T-shirts.

I hope this is not the direction of the entire cruise industry, but represents only one ship or cruise line. We had sailed the Spirit out of New York three years ago and found it a decidedly different and positive experience. For our cruise dollar, currently Princess seems to deliver a lot, which will be our future direction. We have also enjoyed Celebrity and Holland America, as well as others.

Food Generally I liked it. Wife calls me the "human garbage disposal." Wife had a lot of complaints, but I call her a "professional complainer.". I thought the fish was always excellent and had it every meal where possible. NCL serves steamed kippers for breakfast and this was always excellent. Wife didn't like thin cuts of beef, and there seemed to be less willingness or ability to have meats cooked to order. I recall she thought her lamb was excellent, cooked exactly medium rare. Beef is always sub-par on cruises (we've been on many lines), so I don't hold it against NCL that the beef wasn't always like a fine steak house. My partiality is seafood, and this was uniformally excellent for my taste.

Room smallest we've ever experienced (20 or so prior cruises on various lines). Had to take turns standing up in the cabin. I would stay on the bed while spouse dressed, and so on. Showers, by contrast, were roomy. Go figure.

On board activities Poor. As noted in my comments above, all ship seminars were centered around generating income to the ship. Nothing was offered that might be considered cultural. Seminar on destination cultures were absent, other than the shopping talks, and those focused on where to buy jewelry or other junk. NCL did not yield of itself a second in time that was not directed toward ship's income. It caused me to wonder if this cruise line was in financial trouble.

Excursions It's hearsay, but I was told by a person who sailed NCL last year that a person had been bitten by a poisonous snake in the cave expedition where you float through on inner tubes. Allegedly she was airlifted home asap. I don't put much stock in this since it was second hand, but needless to say, we did not go on the float trips. People who did go -- no reports of snake bites! -- just said they were cold in the water.

About our trip See longer comments at beginning. Won't ever again sail NCL. We had been Latitude members and this was our fifth cruise on NCL -- varying from 7 -- 14 days. We noticed on our 4th trip, second on the Spirit, that NCL seemed to be marketing to the lower rungs of cruising ilk. Not that we are stuck up, and I hope we are not, but like the democratizing of the airlines, many people you have to rub shoulders with have no manners, breeding, or a sense of how to act in public or with respect for others. It was especially bad three years ago out of New York, and whereas the behavior was not as bad aboard this trip, there were a lot of low life wearing cutoffs and T-shirts in the dining room at night, stumbling drunk and cursing loudly (in a dining room of all places). If you are used to any sort of refinement at all, you may not be happy spending a week on NCL. We long for the older days of course when NCL was my wife's favorite line. Anyway, you don't have to sail NCL if you prefer a little refinement at a reasonable cost; we've had good experiences on Celebrity, Princess and Holland America, and there areothers, I'm sure.

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Norwegian Spirit
Publication Date: October 16, 2009

Cruised other cruiselines 8 times, 1st time on Norwegian -Spirit. I was pleasantly impressed. Food was well presented, very delectible, perfect quantities, no need to come away from the table busting at the seams, so much food available everywhere, anytime. Service was always efficient and friendly. It has always been my experience that if the crew are mostly Phillipino, you will always be greeted with warmth and a big smile. The ship was well maintained.

Main dining rooms were smaller than accustomed to, so there were occassional waits with a beeper, never more than a 10-15 minute wait. Weather was too cold to use the heated pool or hottub outside. Room was clean, comfortable and appreciated the lg.bathroom with good sized shower, liked the sliding doors that divided the shower and the toilet areas, with the sink in between.

On the negative side,-Tiny tv, up at ceiling level was disappointing. Small gym and 30% of the machines were broken. The free workout classes were few and the instructor often didn't show up. $12.00 tips a day pp. was a bit high. Unfortunately I booked through Americas vacation center. Same cruise price as Norwegian however they

offer free things that disappear after you book with them. After you board, they send you a message in part-"all promotions and quotes are subject to change without notice. So please beware of them.
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Bermuda
Publication Date: July 31, 2009

The NCL Spirit is rated a 4 star but my experience puts it closer to a 3 star (this was my 4th cruise experience...first with NCL). Cruises are about services and food (primarily). What this cruise lacked was quality of food in their dining rooms. For example, the appetizers were barely a single mouthful and pre-cooked food (unfrozen). For the entrees, the quality simply was not there. Some items were so laden with butter and cream that you almost felt it went straight to your arteries. On lobster night they served half a tail in the entree. The added 1 shrimp a 2 mussels. Ridiculous. The dining service was slow and in one room (the Windows) the lady in charge "Jenny" didn't bother to greet you.

NCL promotes "freestyle" cruising. A great concept but totally mismanaged for dinner service. On three occasions we had to wait 45 minutes for a seating. They would not take any reservations in their dining rooms. It felt as if NCL made it somewhat uncomfortable to wait and hoped many would chose their specialty restos for added cost. Bar service seemed very pushy on selling you drinks. They

just did not stop asking you.

Sorry, I did not get my money's worth. I have been on other cruises and for the same money (and family vacation) thus far the Royal Caribbean is the best. Thank you.

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Bermuda
Publication Date: July 24, 2009

Hi my name is Alki and this year I went on my first cruise to Bermuda with NCL Spirit. I am very satisfied from all my time on the ship. Crew memberes made sure for me to have a great time partying and they were very helpful. Definetely I will do it again in a couple of years. I like that Spirit leaves from Boston MA during the summer because I live in Boston.

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Bermuda
Publication Date: May 15, 2009

We sailed the Norwegian Spirit, roundtrip from Boston to King's Wharf, Bermuda.

Roger and I sailed this cruise in a balcony stateroom, with our friend, Dave, in a solo oceanview cabin. This was our first NCL cruise and our first visit to Bermuda, and we thoroughly enjoyed both.

We stayed one night pre-cruise at the Holiday Inn Brookline, and we took the "Green Line" right outside the hotel to the Copley stop, to enjoy a pre-cruise dinner at Legal Seafood, which was wonderful.

The next morning, we grabbed a ride with King's Shuttle to the pier early, and we made arrangements for the same shuttle to pick us up after the cruise. After a short wait, we were one of the first passengers aboard the ship shortly before noon. We loved the warm greeting with a glass of champagne as we boarded the ship. We grabbed a plate from the buffet and settled in at a table to dine al fresco in the aft Raffles bar. We struck up a conversation with another couple at a nearby table, Jo and Bob, who we enjoyed meeting throughout the cruise. We dropped off our laptops

in our room by 1 pm, although the rooms weren't ready to be occupied until 2 pm.

Our next stop was a stop at the spa to book a hair appointment for our Dave, then we were off to make our dinner reservations. We booked Le Bistro for that evening, and we also booked "The Enchanted Dinner" for Tuesday night, which we highly recommend.

The muster drill was quick and painless at 3 pm, and we were sailing away by shortly after 4 pm. We were supposed to meet with some other guests at the aft bar, but it was just the three of us and Jake and Nancy, so we moved on to the Sailaway party. I enjoyed dancing by the Lido pool, while Roger watched the shore get farther and farther away. The weather was a little cool, but we were on vacation!

Our luggage was there when we returned to our room, so we unpacked quickly and dressed for a cocktail hour with our group in the Majaharini's Lounge. Our friend headed to the Singles Social in Champagne Charlie's, but no NCL staffer ever arrived, and he didn't see any other singles, so we headed on to our dinner in Le Bistro.

Got to say -- this is the best $15 per person meal we've ever enjoyed. We all ordered something different, so we could try a lot of things. My escargot appetizer won out over Dave's asparagus and scallops and Roger's scallops. And, everyone agreed my cream of mushroom soup was absolutely the best. But, Dave's tenderloin steak and Roger's rack of lamb were much better than the lobster dish I paid extra for. Our meal ended with a crepe suzette dessert prepared flaming tableside by our server, Horace, and his lovely assistant waiter, Anyu. Ask for them when you make your reservation, as they're absolutely the best. And, we highly recommend eating in one of the specialty restaurants the first couple nights, because you'll get exceptional service while they sit mostly empty. We wrapped up the evening in Henry's Pub, where Carrie Stone entertained us with her songs and guitar stylings.

We had rough seas for the next 24 hours, but everyone seemed to manage them quite well. Breakfast in the Windows dining room was just like any breakfast at sea, so we decided to have lunch in Henry's Pub, where we could choose from wings, fish and chips, and raw oysters on the half shell. We had them all, and they were great. (The oysters were a half dozen for $5 or a dozen for $10.) We met up with friends in Henry's every sea day around lunch time, before dinner, and usually wrapped up our evening there.

Our evening meals in the Windows dining room were just so so -- adequate food and service -- about what you'd expect from a dining room serving a thousand people. Shorts were prohibited in the evening in the Windows dining room, but permitted in the Garden dining room. The Garden dining room was much smaller and filled up quickly each night, probably due to the more relaxed dress code.

Sea days offered opportunities to learn to make sushi and enjoy sake, wine tastings, martini tastings, and beer tasting with food pairings, and margarita mania, so each of us enjoyed one or more of these fun activities. David visited the spa twice, once for a haircut and once for a seaweed massage, both of which he thoroughly enjoyed.

We ended up dining in Le Bistro for two evening meals, had one meal in the Garden dining room when we were dressed more casually to head back into Bermuda for an evening excursion, and all the rest of our meals in the Windows dining room, except for our Tuesday night "Enchanted Dinner."

The Spirit has a unique Art Gallery that's up one small flight of stairs from deck 7 beside one of the entrances to the Casino. Bruce Van der Boon, the concierge, met us at the bottom of the steps to welcome us to our special evening, and we were escorted to our waiting table. We had looked for Carrie Stone to enjoy her music with a pre-cruise drink before dinner, but she wasn't listed anywhere. We were delighted to find she was the live entertainment for our dinner, and our table was right next to where she performed. The candlelit atmosphere surrounded by fabulous art and Carrie singing created the perfect ambience for a wonderful dinner.

We soon learned that our server, Kelton Fox, was roommates with Horace Reed -- our fabulous server from Le Bistro, and the next time we went to the Windows dining room, we asked to be seated at a table in Mr. Fox's area, and we suggest you do the same.

For this evening, we had a choice of appetizers and soups. One salad was offered, and we had a choice of entrees, both of which were surf and turf. Shrimp Cocktail was one of the appetizers, with giant shrimp, not tiny ones like we received in the dining room. We were served champagne when we arrived, with a nice white and red wine served as the meal continued. Many of the ship's officers stopped by our table throughout the evening, including the Hotel Director, the Food and Beverage Manager, and several chefs. At the end of our meal, we were presented with a special dessert -- and all I can say is it was fabulous. The $65 per person price tag included all the wine and champagne as well.

The White Hot Party was that same evening, so we headed back to our staterooms to change into our mostly white attire and headed up to the Galaxy of the Stars to dance the night away. NCL knows how to throw a great party. This was the best party at sea we've ever experienced, and we loved dancing the night away. Thanks to Dave, Jake, and Roger, for keeping the ladies in our group up and dancing all evening.

We enjoyed a "Behind the Scenes" tour, where we saw lots of the ship, plus a preview of Thursday evening's Chocolate Buffet displayed in the Galley. Be sure to take the circular staircase in the Galaxy of the Stars down into a small room where you can watch the activity on the bridge and view where the ship is headed from the Captain's view.

We were lucky enough to catch two performances by the acapello singing group, Home Free, which were leaving the ship with us. Selwyn Wright did a great job entertaining on the piano, and Amadeus offered some great dance music. We enjoyed the Second City Troupe workshop one sea day afternoon, teaching us improv comedy, and Dave was lucky enough to perform with them in one of their evening performances.

We only caught two evening shows -- the magician and the farewell crew talent show. We were having too much fun enjoying our dinners and Carrie Stone the other nights. The Stardust Theatre was arranged to give all the guests a fabulous view of the stage, but the entrance to this theatre brings you into the front of the theatre. We arrived close to show time for our first visit to see the magician, and we saw seats on the front row available, so we slipped into them. The server slipped over to explain these seats were reserved for guests purchasing a minimum of $25 per couple in drinks so we ordered drinks, because they were great seats for a magic show! We had heard about NCL's fountain at the end of the talent show, so we were disappointed that this was not included on this trip.

Our stateroom was small, so we were glad we had a balcony. Our stateroom stewards, Butty (prounounced booty) and Day, kept it perfect, and it seemed they were always outside our room to greet us warmly as we came and went.

We loved Bermuda. When we arrived at around 11 a.m. on Sunday, we bypassed the long lines of people buying bus/ferry passes in the terminal building and got ours in the visitor information center in the town square. We took a bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach, where we relaxed for a while, then followed a beach path to several nearby beaches. We wore ourselves out doing this, and each one looked the same as the next, so we don't recommend this adventure.

That evening we took a ship excursion, the Bermuda Triangle Glass Bottom Boat excursion. It was a great evening cruise, but you definitely need to dress warm, because you're on the water. We had our first (of many) Rum Swizzles on this excursion.

Monday morning Dave headed out for a two-tank scuba dive, and we took the ferry for a walking tour of St. George's. While we know we could have visited all the highlights on a map without a guide, we highly recommend booking a guide, because ours showed us so many things we would have missed without his tour. We began the tour at noon in the town square, with a reenactment of the dunking of a town gossip. Plan to take the 11 am ferry to arrive just in time for this reenactment. And, get in line for the 11 am ferry by 10:30 or you may find there's no room!

After our tour, we enjoyed a mid-afternoon meal on the second-story terrace of George and Dragon located right on the town square, a great outdoor mall where you can people-watch. While we were dining, NCL's Majesty pulled into town! We joined their guests in a .8 mile trek to Tobacco Bay Cove, where we enjoyed a couple hours beach time, before heading back .8 miles to catch the last ferry back to the Dockyard at 6 pm.

We took Dave back to St. George's the next day, so he could enjoy the highlights of St. George's as much as we had. For that trip, we enjoyed lunch and drinks at the Whitehorse Pub & Restaurant. Try their interesting Pink Sand Margarita. The only way I can describe it is "fluffy," -- kind of like a party in your mouth!

And, we saw the announcement about the Epic's new entertainment while at sea. We can't wait to experience Freestyle Entertainment on this grand new ship sometime down the road.

Disembarkation took a really long time. They called for a few people to come to customs and/or settle their bills with the purser over and over again. Finally early disembarkation started at 9:30 am, after they had stood in line for hours. We had picked up tags for the 10:15 disembarkation, because we weren't flying out until the next day, and Dave's flight was at 2:30 pm. We loved waiting in our stateroom and on our balcony leisurely while waiting to disembark. Finally our color tags were called at 10:45, and it was almost 11 am when we reached our luggage. We phoned King's Shuttle, and they met us outside within minutes.

We had one night post-cruise at the Holiday Inn Express Airport at 69 Boston Street. We had intended to tour Boston that day, but we ended up relaxing in our hotel until dinner time. We walked to a neighborhood restaurant recommended by the hotel clerk, 224, and wow, one more great meal -- pumpkin cannelloni and organic pizza. Wonderful!

King's Shuttle picked us up one last time the next morning to take us to the airport. Our flight was non-eventful, until we arrived at our final destination but one piece of our luggage did not. When we filed the claim, they said they had already discovered it left behind in Boston and assured us it would arrive in Little Rock late that day, and they would deliver it the next morning about 7 am. And, they did, so great service American Airlines -- if only it had arrived in the first place!

Closing Thoughts I wasn't sure we'd like Freestyle dining, but we really did. And, we really loved Le Bistro, and we wished we'd visited all the others. We had heard that NCL had an older clientele, but we found all age ranges on the Spirit, with everyone looking to have a good time. And, as I said before, Bravo, NCL -- you know how to throw a fabulous Party at Sea!

We had planned to purchase minutes from our laptop, but we heard the connection was really slow, so we opted to stay offline during this trip. The Freestyle Dailies said you could connect wireless in the Library/Internet Café, and on deck 7 and 8 in the Atrium. Our stateroom was directly below the Library/Internet Café, so we thought we might have wi-fi there, but there was no connection.

My Best Tips

Plan all your evening meals in the specialty restaurants. It's worth the small cover charge for a slower pace meal, exceptional service, and fabulous food. Just my opinion! Don't miss Carrie Stone! Book the Enchanted Dinner in the Art Gallery! And, if this is your first visit to St. George's, hire a tour guide. Bring white clothes and get on your feet and dance at the White Hot Party! (You can also buy a cute white t-shirt in the gift shop that has "White Hot Party" printed on the front and wings printed on the back.)

And, you can check out our photos at community webshots Feel free to email me with any questions at judyjbest@hotmail.com

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