My wife and I just returned from sailing Norwegian Spirit 10/31-11/5. We are in our twenties. This was our first cruise, so we had no expectations or anything to compare it to, so take our review for what it’s worth.
After flying into Miami airport, we took a cab to the pier for the flat $21. We arrived there at about 11:30 and the Spirit had not yet arrived from her previous trip. The first few NCL employees we talked to were extremely unhelpful, but then we spoke to a very helpful Anita, who advised us to fill out luggage tags, give our bags to the porter, and they would show up outside our rooms later that evening. She then directed us over to Bayside, which is a shopping area on the water. It was about a 15-minute walk over the bridge. We walked around, sat on the rocks near the water, had lunch, and then headed back over to the pier about 3:30. We checked in and were able to board the Spirit then without a problem (scheduled boarding was 4:00).
Our stateroom was on deck nine. The size of the stateroom was adequate for the two of us. There was not much storage, but we made do with what we had. The bathroom was small but functional for two average sized people. The balcony had two chairs and a small table. It was comfortable for two of us. Not huge, but sufficient. No one could see us from above/below/sides unless we were leaning over the rail. After talking to some other people that had cruised before, they thought the stateroom and bathroom were smaller than those on other ships they’ve sailed.
Our days in port, we had breakfast at Raffles because we were pressed for time. Our days at sea, we ate breakfast at Windows. The same food items were offered at both restaurants, but Raffles was buffet style while Windows was made and served to order by a waiter. Raffles was average for a breakfast buffet, but we’d definitely recommend Windows if you have the time to sit and want a hot meal.
We never ate a true lunch while onboard. We would snack at Raffles buffet or grab a quick bite to eat at one of the barbecues onboard when we got hungry in the afternoon. We ate a lot of fresh fruit and sampled the various delicious desserts in Raffles for snacks.
We always ate at the sit-down restaurants for dinner. We alternated between Garden Room and Windows, depending on which had the shorter wait (the longest wait we had for a table for 2 was about 25 minutes). The same menu was offered at both restaurants. We have no complaints about the quality of the food. The food was tasty and plentiful. Dinners we really enjoyed were lobster, filet mignon, beef Wellington, and a Chinese pork tenderloin stirfry. The desserts were unbelievable. Bananas foster, cherries jubilee, baked Alaska, fresh strawberry mouse, the list goes on.
Our two days at sea were spent on Deck 12 and 13 sunning ourselves. Wait staff came around offering bar service. The pool was generally crowded, and we were disappointed in its size. We were expecting it to be much larger than it was. 4 hot tubs were located around the pool, and various activities and live music were offered at times during the day.
Our first stop was Grand Cayman, and since we had never tendered before, we woke up early and waited in line for a tender ticket, which we ended up not even needing. There was still quite a bit of hurricane damage, but it appears as though they are working hard and quickly to get the island back up and running 100%. We booked the ½ day tour (10a-1p) through Captain Marvin’s and were very pleased. We met at the store at about 9:30 and were taken via air-conditioned van to the boat (about 10 minutes away). The driver pointed out many sites on the way. Then we had about a 20 minute boat ride to the first snorkeling site. We snorkeled at Coral Gardens, the barrier reef, and then went to Stingray City. I would have preferred to skip Coral Gardens and spend more time at the other two locations. The fish just weren’t as plentiful or interesting there, while at the Barrier Reef our guide found us several green moray eels and multiple large and friendly fish. Also, beware... the stingrays are VERY friendly. We weren't expecting them to be so friendly. They practically knock you over when you first get in the water. They are harmless, but it's quite an experience until you get used to them! As long as you have enough time on shore, I would recommend booking the trip yourself. First of all, I believe the trip through the ship was about $80pp. It cost us $39pp to book it ourselves. Also, we saw the boats with the cruise ship excursions, and there were about 100 people onboard. Our boat had 12. We’d definitely use Captain Marvin’s again. We took the boat back in, and we were back to the store about 1:30. We then walked around town, sampled some rum and rumcakes, and headed back to be tendered back to the ship.
The next day we were in Roatan. We had done a lot of research, and decided to spend the day on our own. After exiting the ship without difficulty, we headed past the numerous cabs and buses, turned right, and walked into town. There were lots of locals trying to get us to “buy” their trips, and children requesting money. Some went away when you said “no thanks” and others were more annoying and persistent. Eventually, we found a cab to take us to Half Moon Bay (West End Beach) for $5.00 US. (They will try to charge $20-30 US for the trip, but the local rate is actually only $2-3pp US). We swam out from the beach at Half Moon Bay about 100 yards (past the sea weed) and found a reef where we snorkeled and saw many colorful fish (free of charge). Then, we came across a dive shop called Ocean Connection where we simply wanted to ask where else was good to snorkel, and ended up booking a dive trip (I am PADI Advanced certified). For $25 US, I dove and my wife snorkeled. My wife was pleased with the snorkeling from the boat, as there were hundreds of fish and beautiful coral. On my dive, I saw many many fish, along with a sea turtle, crab, and many other tropical sea creatures. The service was great (it was 1 on 1 with my dive master), and I would certainly use Ocean Connection again.
We had no problems with NCL staff. The housekeeping staff kept our stateroom clean and tidy, and brought towel animals in the evening when they turned down our bed. The wait staff was pleasant, quick, and efficient. Not overly talkative or friendly because generally, they were too busy for chit-chat, but they certainly did a fine job.
The motion of the ship during our trip did not bother us at all, however, we are avid boaters and are used to being on the water. We did see MANY people with the patches behind their ear but did not hear of anyone being terribly sick.
The disembarkation went very smoothly. The color coded system seemed efficient, and we had no problems obtaining our luggage or getting through customs.
We were very pleased with our trip and would not hesitate to book with NCL again. The freestyling concept worked well for my wife and I, as we are simple people, and really did not want to get very dressed up every night for dinner or commit to dining at the same time every day.
Sorry that this is so long-winded, but I know how helpful this board is. Feel free to email with any additional questions: firstname.lastname@example.org