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Old November 9th, 2004, 12:00 PM
cruiser1999
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Default Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

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: fbe2228@sbcglobal.net
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old November 9th, 2004, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

thank you so much for writing!!! i have struggled to find reviews on the spirit especially with that exact itinerary. I have cruised two times before one was just last may on the carnival triumph with my boyfriend we are both 22 and we will be on the spirit on Jan. 2 '05 with another couple. I guess i was interested in what you did during your days at sea were there a lot of activities to do, we don't really need a lot to do we are content laying in the sun, but just in case..When it comes to boarding your ship were you not able to board until 3:30? because boarding time was 4:00 on my last cruise but they let us board at 1pm, which was nice because we got to eat lunch and look around the ship. thank you again for your review...if you feel like you forgot something i would be more than interested in your posts. Thanks
Lindsay
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Old November 9th, 2004, 05:15 PM
BOKCRUISER
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

GREAT REVIEW! THANKS A MILLION!!! JUST ONE QUESTION, ARE THERE COFFEE MAKERS IN THE STATEROOMS?? I READ THIS IN A REVIEW OF THE NCL SPIRIT ALASKA ITINERARY.

THANKS AGAIN.
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Old November 9th, 2004, 06:56 PM
Hendrik
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Great review! Thanks!
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Old November 9th, 2004, 07:14 PM
cruiser1999
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Lindsay: We spent our days at sea on the decks sunning. I know that they do have activities during the day such as bingo and movies for those who are interested in being inside. We chose to enjoy the sunny skies and 90 degree weather!! There were several events going on at the pool such as swimming contests, bartending contests, and beer drinking contests (for beer prizes!). Also, there was live music entertainment which seemed to get the crowd in the mood for the caribbean trip!! Make sure you get to the sunning deck rather early on days at sea. The deck chairs do fill up rapidly.
We really didn't know what time we were allowed to board. We knew that we could for sure get on the ship at 4pm, so we decided that we'd rather hang out at Bayside until 3:30ish rather than risk walking back to the ship and not being able to board. There really isn't anything to do right near the ship. Once we got on, there were already a lot of passengers on the ship, so I assume that an earlier boarding was possible. We know for next time.....

BOKCRUISER: Yes, there are coffee makers in the rooms. Neither of us are coffee drinkers, but we saw others getting refills of the coffee packets from the room cleaning staff.
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Old November 10th, 2004, 12:32 PM
xray
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Thank you for the GREAT review. I was wondering if you felt safe at Bayside? Many people warn against walking around in Miami. Another question, I wanted to take some of my own soda on the ship. Is there someplace at Bayside I might be able to get bottled water and Diet Code Red Mountain Dew and maybe tomato juice. I was going to take it on the plane with us in a carry on because we ordered a bottle of Absolute for our balcony room. Is there a grocery store there? It sure would be nice to not have to take it on the plane with us, but I want to be able to get it for sure before we board the ship. We could arrive plenty early because we're staying near the airport the night before. Again, thanks so much for the info......Wenyd
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Old November 10th, 2004, 01:50 PM
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Default Re: Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

I don't know about getting soda at bayside, but on the other cruises I have been on with NCL, you should be able to order tomato juice through room service for free.
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Old November 10th, 2004, 10:21 PM
jps
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Thanks for the review! I am going on the Nov. 28 sailing of Spirit, with this same itinerary. Can't wait!
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Old November 11th, 2004, 07:14 AM
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Default Re: Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Bayside is a very safe area. Soda and water are available but rather high priced.

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Old November 11th, 2004, 10:26 AM
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

We just came off the Spirit after a nine day cruise and liked it a lot also. I thought the bands were really good and the comedians were good. One thing I did notice was how short the beds were. I'm 6' 4" and I wished I was a little bit shorter. But not a real problem in the grand scheme of things. You're right also in saying you should arrange your own excursions. Plenty of info on the internet, such as this site.
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Old November 22nd, 2004, 01:01 AM
suzier
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Hi Paul O,

My boyfriend and I are booked on the Spirit 9 day in Jan. so I'm glad to hear you like it. Any further suggestions/info you can offer would be much appreciated! Thanks!
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Old November 27th, 2004, 07:53 AM
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Default Re: Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

My wife & I will be sailing on the Dec. 17 trip. I was interested in how you ordered the Vadka for your room. Thanks in advance for your reply. Shorty 29
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Old December 19th, 2004, 06:44 PM
Al/Rich
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

By any chance can you scan the 5 day itinerary from the Spirit as did other people on the messageboard. I'm going l/2 for 5 days. TY. A
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Old December 20th, 2004, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

i'll be on the ship with you!

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Old December 27th, 2004, 04:16 PM
Sandra & Ralph
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Thank you so much for your "long winded" and very informative information regarding your trip. We also will be taking the same trip on the same ship on March 13th. and are very excited. We will also be on deck 9.

My husband is hoping to go snorkeling so the information you have given us will be helpful. I will try to snorkel but I haven't done it before, only in our backyard swimming pool which doesn't count.

We now know what to do when we arrive in Miami, thanks to your information. We will go over the same bridge and shop a little and also have lunch.

I would be very interested in hearing from you if you have any advice you can give us regarding our two stops in Cayman Is and Roatan.

Thank you again for your most interesting information.

Sandra & Ralph
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Old December 28th, 2004, 04:19 AM
cruiser1999
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Sandra and Ralph... What specifically would you like to know about???
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Old December 28th, 2004, 10:52 AM
Bojodang
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

We will be going on the Spirit, April 15th for 9 days. We have traveled with NCL before, and I was wondering, do people still dress up for the captains dinner? How do they dress (gowns and tuxes)? Your reply will be greatly appreciated. Can't wait to go.
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Old December 28th, 2004, 01:41 PM
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

Nicely detailed review !
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Old December 28th, 2004, 07:27 PM
cruiser1999
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Default Re: Review of NCL Spirit 10/31/04

We saw several people dressed up in gowns/tuxes for the formal dinner. Some dressed up for the Captain's dinner as well. We wore "resort casual" (dress/khaki pants/button-down shirt) for all dinners and fit in well. Enjoy your trip!
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