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This was my 5th cruise. My previous cruises were on; Carnival Destiny, Triumph, Paradise and NCL Sky. I was accompanied by my sister, mother and aunt. My mother and aunt had never cruised before.
Before I begin the review, I want everyone to know that we had a WONDERFUL time. Any negatives that are mentioned were inconsequential, minor annoyances at best. NCL did a great job. If you are booked on this ship, you should be very happy, because you are going to have a great vacation.
I booked my air to Fort Lauderdale with Jet Blue Airlines. I have now used this airlines several times and have greatly enjoyed their service each and every time. The airplanes are wonderful with roomy leather seats, additional leg room and the private satellite television for every seat. This is a wonderful airline and I can’t say enough positives about their service. I did have a connection that I failed to make due to weather, but this is the primary reason that I always travel the day before the cruise. If this had happened on cruise day, we would have missed the ship.
I used the Miami Airport shuttle to transport us from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. It was 17 dollars a person plus tip. This service met my needs.
I used Priceline to book my overnight stay in Miami. We had two rooms at the Hyatt Regency in Miami. We were lucky with our rooms as the hotel was booked and they had to move us to suites. The room had two sliding glass doors with balcony. I was on the 19th floor, overlooking the water. We were able to see just the tops of a couple of ships. The room was quite noisy with the sliding doors open, but I enjoyed these sounds. There was a draw bridge next to the hotel that was also mildly entertaining to watch. They were tearing down a building across the street which would have greatly bothered me if I had been staying more than just the night. I would not choose this hotel for a family vacation; however, for one night pre-cruise at 45 dollars for a suite….I was very, very happy. I really liked that the terminal for the Metro-mover was inside the hotel. The Metro-mover is free and we used it to go to bayside marketplace. It is also a nice way to get a quick glance at the city. We took a taxi to the Port of Miami, which is only 5 minutes from the hotel.
This was the easiest embarkation that I have ever had. We arrived at the pier at 12:15 and were onboard in our rooms at 12:30. This was wonderful and very painless!
The ship appears to have been well cared for. We had an inside cabin on deck six. While I was envious of those in balcony cabins, this cabin met my needs. In hindsight, I should have selected a different cabin location as both main dining rooms are on this floor, this made it necessary to go up one floor, walk the length of the ship and then back down the stairs to get to the dining room. I also regretted being at the front of the ship, as I found that I spent my day in the back of the ship. I had heard many complaints regarding the beds being very hard on this ship. I lucked out and had a very soft, comfortable mattress; however, my mother’s room had beds that were as hard as a rock. It took two egg crate mattresses to make it even close to being acceptable. The blow dryers were really not acceptable for people with thick hair. I was able to use it okay as my hair is very short, but it would have taken over an hour for my mom and sister to dry their hair. An acceptable alternative was found however in the ladies locker room. There are a couple of vanities with blow dryers that have the usual power. The showers in the cabin were wonderful. They were roomy with a sliding glass door. There is a dispenser with soap and shampoo in the shower. The storage space in the cabin was more than adequate. Don’t’ forget to bring a multi-plug in adaptor, as there really is only one plug in available in the cabin. You can not use your blow dryers from home.
I found the ships public areas to be very beautiful. I was very impressed with the emphasis placed on hygiene. There was a repeating program regarding the Norwalk virus playing on the cabin television. There is alcohol based hand sanitizers placed outside of each food venue. I also saw the staff continuing to “encourage” people to sanitize their hands before going through the buffet. I was disappointed that my usual favorite seating area was not to be found. I have always enjoyed sitting on the promenade deck on a lounge chair under the life boats reading. This ship only had 5 lounge chairs available on this whole deck. These chairs are very hard and are not adjustable. I loved that the promenade deck goes all the way around the ship! This was a first for me and was a wonderful surprise.
I loved the Aqua Swim pools. There is no charge for using this pool. They limit their use to one person at a time with a 30 minute time limit. They were available without a problem and were fun to use. I also really enjoyed the steam room and the sauna.
This was the first ship I had sailed on with a movie theater, and I enjoyed this feature as well.
The casino had multi-denomination slots that allowed you to play pennies! The slots paid better than my previous cruises and were a lot of fun. My sister won about $100 dollars playing nickels!
There were very few children visible on this cruise. In fact the children’s area was completely taken over by adults. Adults used the kids hot tub, pool and lounge chair area.
I LOVE freestyle cruising. We dined at: The Garden, Windows, Blue Lagoon and Raffles. The food in the main dining rooms was really good. I did not experience the long wait that previous cruisers had complained of. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes to eat dinner. We usually ate around 6pm, but this did vary up to 7pm and again, did not have to wait for a table.
I must admit that I do miss just a little; getting to know the wait staff and having them remember that I drink ice tea etc. However, the other benefits of freestyle far outweigh this slight drawback. Our food was good and the portions were more than adequate. I really enjoyed dining in the main dining rooms. Raffles buffet was fine, typical in my opinion for a ship buffet. The Blue Lagoon was the only place on board to get good French fries. There was food available constantly! I do have the menus from the main dining room that I would be happy to email to anyone who wants them.
My room steward did a great job. He was not overly friendly, but my cabin was cleaned well and he was always polite. I had brought onboard a small cooler bag to store my diet caffeine-free Pepsi and he kept this full of ice at all times.
The staff all over the ship was very friendly and helpful however; my sister did surprise a couple of crew members who were poking fun on the passengers. They were mimicking a passenger asking how to get to Windows. They just about tripped over themselves apologizing when they realized they had been heard. We found this quite funny and harmless as I am sure they do get asked the same things over and over again!
I did not enjoy the Cruise Director. I believe his name was Ricky. He did not always introduce the shows or performers. He wasn’t funny and I had a hard time understanding him when he spoke. The crowd did not react to him.
The shows in the Moulin Rouge were average. The comedian on board was far from funny. He tried to sell his CDs after the show and not one person ventured forward to purchase one. The musical shows left something to be desired. I did enjoy one, but then left the others early.
There was a wide variety of activities going on at all times. I prefer lounging in the fresh warm air and reading, however, my mother was on the go constantly. She said that she hated to go to bed, because she was having too much fun. ( I think this was her first of many cruises to come!) I have a copy of the freestyle daily papers if anyone is interested in this.
Barbados: Upon arrival, it was overcast and raining on and off. It was very foggy. I had planned to spend the day at the Crane Hotel and beach. We cancelled these plans and instead took a taxi into the town to shop. This was a disappointing stop and in hindsight, I wish that I would have at least taken a tour.
Grenada: I loved this stop. I had planned on going to Grand Anse beach for the day, but the morning started out rainy and overcast, so instead we decided to take a tour. We had a wonderful tour guide, Garfield St. Louis. It was very sad to see the devastation that Hurricane Ivan caused on this beautiful island. The hurricane was four months ago, and many houses still have tarps for roofs. Only 30 percent of the island has had their electrical service restored. The spice crops have been destroyed.. We ended our tour at Grand Anse beach as the sun finally came out. The beach was enjoyable; however the vendors were quite aggressive selling their wares. After settling down, they did finally leave us alone to enjoy the afternoon. Garfield came back to transport us to the cruise ship for 3 dollars a person. Garfield was very knowledgeable and personable and my time with him was one of the highlights of the cruise. If anyone is interested in booking a tour with him, I do have his home and cell phone numbers. He only charged us 20 dollars a person plus tip
St. Lucia: This was our only tender stop. I had pre-arranged a island tour with Cosol after a recommendation from the Cruise Critic boards. This tour was also WONDERFUL. There were 6 of us total on the tour, his air conditioned van was very comfortable. He took us to bananas plantations, the Volcano, waterfalls, fishing villages, the rain forest, Pitons and much, much more. He stopped along the way at many local eateries and purchased local foods for us to try. He clued us in on where to shop to get the best prices. Our tour was going to end at a beach, but the weather did not cooperate. The tour was 35 dollars a person, but he paid for all of the food sampling and entrance fees along the way. I highly recommend spending the day with Cosol when in St. Lucia. I have his email if anyone is interested.
Antigua: I had planned on spending the day at Grand Pineapple Beach, which is an all inclusive beach resort (35 dollars includes use of water equip, unlimited food, drink, beach chairs, etc), however, once again the weather did not cooperate, so instead I wasted my time shopping and returned to the ship very early.
Tortola: I usually book my excursion privately, as I do not like taking a tour with a hundred people and usually can save quite a bit of money, however here; I took the ship sponsored tour, “Virgin Gorda Highlights”. The stop is so short at Tortola, that you do not have enough time to do the Baths on your own and make it back to the ship before sailing. This tour was wonderful because it is basically just transportation to the Baths. I had seen pictures before going, but the real thing blew me away. Gorgeous! I believe that the beauty equals that of the US Virgin Island St. John. Snorkeling was amazing with many beautiful fish and sea creatures seen. Our excursion was late getting back, but because we booked through the ship, they waited for us. There is a place to rent snorkel equipment here; I think the charge was 7 dollars. I did bring my own, but really didn’t need to as the equipment here was good. You do need to be reasonably flexible and steady on your feet to do the walk through the caves. The cost of the ship sponsored tour was 54 dollars and was worth every penny. At the end of the day, everyone received a complimentary glass of rum punch or fruit punch. There was also a very nice gift shop.
The island temperatures were in the mid 80’s every day. Even though we only had a few days of sun. It was still a wonderful vacation.
Fellow Cruisers: The crowd seemed much older than our previous cruises. There were very few children and I would say the majority of the passengers were 50+, but certainly all ages were represented. There were actually a few very RUDE passengers. I can’t help but be amazed at how miserable some people can be. If they are this miserable while I vacation, I can’t imagine what they are like in the real world.
I really didn’t mind this day. Both breakfast and lunch were served at raffles. Pool games were scheduled. We were the 3rd from the last color called for debarkation and we were off the ship at 1:30. I love that you can stay in your cabin until your color is called. The process was very smooth and painless.
I took a shuttle van that I arranged at the pier back to the Fort Lauderdale airport. This cost was 20 dollars a person plus tip. My return flight was on TransMeridian, and unfortunately, this was the worst part of my trip. The seats were very small, and leg room was nonexistent. They actually made us get off the plane on our 45 minute lay over and get in line to get new boarding passes. They instructed us to leave our belonging on the plane, then once off the plane they told us we needed our previous boarding passes. When my mother tried to get her new boarding pass for the second leg of the flight, they told her that she was a no-show on the original flight and no new boarding pass was available. They finally believed her and gave her a new boarding pass, but it was not easy. The flight crew was unprofessional (when trying to read the standard safety info, the flight attendant kept laughing and had to stop, when we landed, she welcomed us to the wrong city, then laughed again, before spitting out the correct city, etc. When paging other crew members in the terminal on their radios, they made jokes the whole time.” I will try not to fly this airline again (however, this was our only choice to get back to our small city airport before midnight….so I may not be able to avoid it.)
The cruise was wonderful. The ship was great, the staff was great, and the itinerary was great. I would highly recommend this cruise. If I can answer any questions, I would be glad to do so.
Kim~ Very nice review! We won't be on the Spirit until December, but enjoy reading the reviews of the ship. Glad that you gave information on the ship's excursion to the baths on Tortola. Looks like we will be booking this through the ship so we won't be late getting back. It will be worth the extra money!
Sounds like you enjoyed your cruise. ~Debbi
Can you please post the daily for the Embarkation day as this is the daily that is missing on Cruiseclues.com, even if you just post the highlights and what you think would be of most interest.
On the islands that you took a private tour with a taxi, can you tell me how long you hired the taxi for and how much you paid, and what sights you visited. Would you have done anything differently with the sightseeing you did?
Enjoyed your review of the Spirit very much. My wife and I will be cruising on the Spirit March 4--March 13, 2005. Your review was very informative.
You mentioned you have the e-mail address's of tour operator Cosol in St. Lucia and the phone number of Garfield St. Louis in Grenada. If you could send me their e-mail address's I would greatly appreciate it.
Also if others have the e-mail address's of tour operators they have used would appreciate their e-mail address's as well. That is the islands on this cruise: Barados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, and Tortola.
Glad you had such a wonderful cruise; it appears the Spirit is getting raves from most including my boss who cruised her last fall. We did St Lucia on the Sky about 2 years ago and had a very bad experience; next time we will do the tour thing instead of just walking around. Barbados is one of our favorite islands along with Tortolla and Virgin Gorda. too bad you had the yucky weather to cope with. Thanks again,
We also just returned from this cruise. Just got home today the weather in Seattle was terrible. I have to mostly agree with the reviewer. This was our first cruise so we don't have anything to compare it with but it met all of our expectations, Ok the weather was not what we expected but at least it was warm. One warning, a Antigua we were sold a tour by a guy calling himself "Ninja". We were supposed to go to Port Nelson, Through the rain forest, then to Turners Beach for the afternoon for $20 per person. We had 2 other couples on the tour both from other ships in port that day. Ninja took us to the taxi van and introduced us to our driver "Vernon" so far so good. We head out of town a few miles and Vernon is talking and giving us a usuall tour. He pulls into a gas station and gets out, and another van shows up with another guy and girl in it and we are introduced to him as our new driver. He and the girl get into our van and away we go at max speed and no more tour talk. We try to ask questions but we get no answer or a one word answer at nearly a wisper. We drive right buy all the places that the other taxis are stopped at. When we get to Port Nelson he just stops and sits there. We ask about whats here and he shrugs his shoulders and says they told him to take us there. None of us new what to do so after a short stay we told him to take us to the beach. Again at full speed and no talk we head off through the country. As we go through what is obviously the rain forest we ask questions get little or no response. We get to the coast and fly by the sign that says Turners Beach go a couple of miles past, to Darkwood Beach the sign says, and he just pulls to the side of the road and waits for us to get out. After some discusion between us passengers we tell him to take us back to Turners Beach, and he finally does after he calls someone. He agrees to pick us up at 3pm and we have a good afternoon at the beach. We gather everyone at 2:45pm and go to the parking lot and don't see him anywhere, so we wait. There are other taxis there but they are filling with people and leaving to go back to the ships. One of them asks if we need a ride as he has room for all of us, and we tell him that we are expecting our taxi back at 3pm, but we don't have a lot of confidence in our driver coming back but we want to wait till 3pm to see if he does. The new guy agrees to wait to see if we need a ride or not. At 3pm we see no sign of our taxi so we go back with the new guy. We were going to talk to Ninja about a price reduction any way because we didn't get any kind of tour. Any way we got back to the ship and nobody ever saw Ninja or any of them again. No pay for Ninja or our multiple drivers, Has anyone had a similar experience?
All of our other excurtions are either canceled or changed because of the weather but the highlight was the virgin gorda snorkle that was changed to Nelson Island. We wish we would have had more time at Tortola, as it was our favorite.
We enjoyed all the shows and acts. The band 60280 played great music of all types. One of the girls singers was exceptionally good. Didn't do the casino, to many other things to do.
We only had one night that we had to wait at the Garden to eat, lots of angry pushy people made things tense for the poor girl taking names. They could use a number or pager system to ease the problem in prime time, two hours before the 2nd show. After that we ate earlier and always just walked in.
Great cruise, for our first time, really no complaints at all that anybody can do anything about. (weather)
Better start looking for the next one now. Blake
The Band played in the Galaxy of the Stars most of the time, with dancing mostly pop styles. The show band played in the Mulon Rouge before and between shows with ballroom dancing in the front of the stage. There is also a disco bar above the Galaxy with a dance floor, mostly karioke and disco music. Blake
I was on this sailing as well and enjoyed the cruise a lot. The cruise director was not the best I have seen but was definatly not the worst. The shows were like they are on every other cruise. I have to disagree with the previous statements about the comedians. I thought they were very funny with the exception of the last one. The first two Vinnie Mark and peter Sasso were very funny and when they held two other shows at the end of the cruise they attracted quite a bit of people. The last comedian Chaz was nothing to write home about. This guy was a little funny at first but as the show prgressed things just fell apart. The passenger talent show onboard was dry. it was composed of two people playing instruments, 1 singer, and some guy who was trying to be funny. The crew talent show on the other hand was great and was a true representation of the crews other talents.
At the restaurants I recommend eating in small groups because service is much better if you do. We were a group of 9 and when we all ate together service was terribly slow. The nights we ate in smaller groups we recieved excelent service. If possible try to get Linda in the garden room and henry in windows at least once because they were truely some of the best waiters I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Food was very good and always arrived hot.
If you like cappacinos they are only free in the dining rooms. Anywhere else they will charge you. The same goes for expressos.
If you are a latitudes member make sure you confirm it. this was one problem I had. I went down to the desk the night you were to do so and was told that I was a new member. When i told the guy that this was my secong NCL cruise he basically laughed in my face. He said he would check on it but he never did because we never recieved the invitation to the party or any of the coupons other members did. So to be sure when I got home I checked the lattitudes number on my ticket with that on my member card and they were the same. I don't undersatnd what happened. If this happens to you complain. I think the guy in charge of this was named Duncan. He never fixed the problem like he promised he would. The front desk of this ship is where this ship needs to improve because at times the people there were very rude.
Overall this vacation was great. Wasn't as good as RCCL but much better than HAL and Carnival. Will I sail NCL again...Probably.
3/07 MSC Lirica or RCCL Empress of the Seas
1/07 Carnival Glory
3/06 Holland America Westerdam
1/06 RCCL Voyager of the Seas
10/05 Carnival Inspiration
3/05 Star Princess
1/05 Norwegian Spirit
3/04 Holland America Zuiderdam
1/04 RCCL Adventure of the Seas
3/03 Carnival Victory
1/03 Norwegian Dawn
3/02 Carnival Sensation
3/00 RCCL Soverign of the Seas
2/98 NCL Norway
1/97 RCCL Monarch of the Seas
Last edited by Mbee119394; January 19th, 2005 at 03:45 PM.