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Everything posted by luckybecky

  1. Day 2 This was a sea day. We were still adjusting to the time change so we enjoyed sleeping late, and then we went to our official Meet and Greet for the Cruise Critic roll call at 10am. The captain and all senior officers and the cruise director were there. Each one introduced themselves and said a few words to the group. John, our amazing roll call leader, told me that this was the largest Cruise Critic group they have ever had on the Spirit. This was entirely due to John's leadership. He really did an amazing job running the roll call and keeping us all organized. The ship provided some light refreshments. This was held in the Garden Dining Room. It was very nice and we enjoyed a second opportunity to meet all the roll call members we had been chatting with for so many months. I'm sorry to say that with such a large group, I don't think I got to meet everyone. I would see the same people over and over throughout the cruise, and others I think I never saw again. We had kind of a lazy day. Here is the schedule. As we go along, I won't post all 4 pages of each days' schedule because a lot of the information is redundant, like operating hours. But I'll be sure to post the schedule of activities for each day. In the afternoon I went to the art auction. I had a bunch of raffle tickets and had nothing better to do, so I thought what the heck. I knew I would not buy anything. The prices are way too high for me. The auction was fine, but it dragged on -- and on -- and on. I kept thinking it would end but it just kept going and going. I stayed for almost two hours before I finally bailed (Paul wisely left much earlier to take a nap). As for my raffle tickets -- I did win a little plastic thingy that you can put your cell phone in, I guess it is supposed to be waterproof. My advice is to not bother wasting your time here.
  2. It is worth noting that the Windows dining room was very large. We never had to wait for a table and never saw it full. A fellow cruiser told us that it is one of the largest dining rooms in the fleet, which is saying something since this is an older, smaller ship. The area at the back near the big windows never seemed full. We were only seated there once. Almost all of the tables in that area are for larger groups. There are very few of the smaller tables for two, or even four. I wish they would reconfigure the seating in this part of the dining room to accommodate couples or smaller groups. As it is, most of the tables seat 6, 8 or more. Later, we went to the Welcome Aboard Show in the main theater. I have to say that the shows on this ship were the best I have ever seen of all our cruises. We really enjoy live entertainment. There was live music all over this ship, all the time. Very talented entertainers, in Champagne Charlie's, Galaxy, even piano music in the dining room sometimes. We have been disappointed on our past couple of Carnival cruises to note a lack of live music. There was no problem with that here on the Spirit. Fantastic live music all the time. And the evening entertainment lineup was amazing. We saw a show almost every night and were blown away by the quality of the entertainment. We usually arrived at the theater about 15 - 20 minutes before showtime and never had trouble getting a good seat. Don't wait until the last minute to show up. Shows always started *exactly* on time. We hit the casino for a bit before retiring to bed. Tonight we met Reinzi who was the casino bartender and we occsionally would see him at other locations on the ship. He immediately learned our names and drink preferences and took great care of us for the entire cruise. It was a beautiful night.
  3. And of course dessert! Blueberry cheesecake Salted caramel chocolate tart I really don't know what was wrong with me, not ordering the chocolate lava cake. That is my all time favorite dessert on Carnival and I have no idea why I didn't order it here. 🙄
  4. Our luggage was delivered around 6 pm. We went to dinner in the Windows Dining Room. In general, we liked the food and service in the dining rooms. As for comparison, it was much better than our last cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. There, the dining room food was hit or miss, and we had a lot of issues with very slow service. Here on the Spirit we found the food to be consistently good. Not amazing, but very good. And service was very friendly and efficient. We had no problems with slow service. NCL definitely beats Carnival when it comes to main dining room service, at least as compared to our most recent cruise on the Sunshine. Here is the Windows menu for tonight: The following "classic entrees" were on the menu every night. Here is some food porn for you Shrimp and crab cake French onion soup Greek salad Baby spinach salad Grilled atlantic salmon Chicken piccata
  5. Ok well that was a lot of photos to get things started! In the afternoon, there was an art "scavenger hunt" in the art gallery which I did. It was easy and I got a bunch of raffle tickets for the next day. Muster was at 4:00pm and was very easy. We were assigned to the theater so it was very comfortable, unlike some muster drills I have attended on other ships where we have been packed into very hot, crowded outdoor decks. Immediately after muster, our roll call group had agreed to meet at the Raffles Terrace Bar. We had a large roll call group and it was fun to meet everyone and watch sailaway with our new friends. Here is John (standing) who was our roll call leader, his wife Pam, and another early roll call member, Stuart.
  6. Shanghai Bar -- this spot looked very popular. We didn't spend a lot of time there but it always seemed busy. The arcade: Guest services Henry's Pub The Cafe, where they had coffee, sweets and a small bar. Windows Dining Room
  7. The main atrium Champagne Charlie's Le Bistro The casino Maharini's Lounge
  8. More of my ship tour: The gym and spa The kids' play area at the back of the ship The theater Sushi bar and Shogun
  9. The library Galaxy of the Stars lounge on deck 12. My pictures don't do it justice. It was a very nice area with big picture windows offering 180 degree views. In the Galaxy lounge there was a circular staircase which would take you down to a bridge viewing room: This room also contained a lot of ship mementos. Unfortunately any time there was much activity on the bridge, such as docking, they closed the blinds so you couldn't see what was going on.
  10. On with our tour of the ship: This is the Bier Garten bar. I never saw it busy at all. It was just too cold much of the time to enjoy lounging outside. Here is the pool. We never went swimming but we did see people swimming occasionally. The pool was heated and felt lukewarm when I dipped a toe in. We did get in the hot tub once and saw them in use fairly often. We thought it wasn't hot enough though. On a warm weather cruise, the hot tub temp probably would have been fine, but up here in the North Sea we thought they needed to crank up the heat a little more. There was a game room that was popular. We saw people playing games there very often. The internet cafe:
  11. We found the closet to have plenty of room. The bathroom was tight. We did not need the coffeepot so we stored it in the closet, in order to free up space on the small desk. Our room was very comfortable and our steward took great care of us and kept the room spotless. However this room is definitely smaller than we have had on some Carnival ships. The bathroom was also smaller. Or maybe it just felt smaller because they partition it into 3 parts: the toilet, the vanity, and the shower, with doors between each part. The vanity area is definitely much smaller than we had on the Breeze. But it was fine.
  12. After lunch, I did a quick ship tour. Here are a lot of photos for you. This is an older ship, in fact I think it is the oldest in the NCL fleet, so many of these photos may be familiar to some of you. We loved the size of the ship. It was big enough to have everything we wanted in a cruise ship, but still easy to get around. We were in cabin 9550 Here is the minibar. We never used it.
  13. It's finally time to go! We live in San Antonio, but we found better flight options out of Austin. So on Wednesday June 12 we drove an hour and a half from our home to Austin. Our flight left around 6:30 pm. We arrived in London at about 10am local time the next morning. I had pre purchased National Express bus tickets to Southampton but our bus wasn't scheduled until 1:15 pm. So we had about a 3 hour wait at the airport. We finally got to Southampton around 3:30pm. Walked to our hotel from the bus station. We were very tired so we napped for a couple of hours. Several of our roll call members were staying at the same hotel and had made plans to meet for dinner, but we were suffering jet lag and just weren't up to it. After resting for a couple of hours, we dragged ourselves out of bed and went out for supper. We walked through a nearby park and saw the Titanic memorial. The next morning we were excited to start our long awaited vacation! Finally I will have some pictures for you. I very strongly recommend travelling early, don't plan a flight that arrives on embarkation day. I would never plan a trip that cuts it that close. We left home 2 days before our cruise. On embarkation day we had a light breakfast at a coffee shop near our hotel, and then Ubered to the ship. Embarkation was very easy. We left our suitcases with the attendant outside and then went into the large hall to await embarkation. The process to sign in and get our ship cards was very fast and efficient. We were given a boarding card number and found a seat in the large hall while waiting to board. It did not take long for our number to be called. We got on board right around noon. Here we are getting on board. We headed right up to the buffet for lunch. Raffles was OK. It was always crowded. Always. There never seemed to be enough seating. On a warm weather cruise,maybe this would not be a problem because some people might take advantage of the outdoor seating. But on this cruise it was usually too cold to eat outside and Raffles always seemed crowded. The food was OK. Typical buffet food. I think it was very average, about the same that you would find on any other cruise line or buffet style restaurant. Here are a couple of pics from Raffles. I think I took these at a later time. This is the bar and eating area at the back of the ship, right outside the buffet area.
  14. When we booked our cruise, it was listed as a "distinctive voyage" which included several perks. In addition to the $50 per port excursion credit, we also had a 250 minute internet package, 120 minute phone call credit, 4 specialty dining credit, $100 on board credit, and beverage package. At some point after our final payment was made, I think it might have been in April or thereabouts, I noticed that the price of our cruise had gone down very significantly, like $2000 or so, from the price we had paid. I called NCL to see if we could get the lower price. Nope. We already had pretty much all the perks that we could use, so there wasn't much else they could offer us as compensation. We haggled a bit, and finally the NCL rep came back with an offer of $500 on board credit. This paled in comparison to the $2000 price difference but it was the best they would do, and the rep said it was a one time take-it-or-leave-it offer. So we took it and were happy to have it. We are frugal travelers and rarely spend any money at all on board, so it was almost a challenge to spend our OBC which was $600 in total. (The OBC unfortunately could not be used to pay gratuities.) So finally most of our plans were in place and all we had to do now was to wait!
  15. Hello Cruisers! We recently returned from a 12 day NCL cruise to Norway on the Spirit. We had an amazing time in such a beautiful country. I'm going to give you a detailed trip report. I have dozens of pictures, menus, food porn and more. I go into a lot of detail in my reviews. Some people like all the details, while others think I am too nitpicky. I don't consider myself either a cheerleader or a critic of any cruise line. I'm just sharing my observations which may or may not be relevant for you. I hope you'll find some useful information here. This was our seventh cruise. We have cruised with Carnival four times, once with Celebrity, and once in Tahiti on the Paul Gauguin. We looked forward to trying NCL to see how it compared to the other lines, particularly Carnival since that is the one we had the most experience with. I'll make some observations about how I think they compared. We started planning this trip many months in advance. We booked the trip in August 2018. We soon joined our roll call where we had an exceptionally good leader. John created a spreadsheet where he kept track of all the people who joined the roll call along with all the excursions we were planning. This roll call really enhanced our trip so much and we were very grateful to John for all the work he put into making it happen. I am a big planner, so I spent the next months making plans for our time pre and post cruise in London. We booked air travel, hotels, and transfers. We purchased travel insurance. Excursion planning was a big deal. I'll spend a lot of time talking about this here. Our roll call was very helpful with this and we planned a number of excursions with our fellow cruise critic members. At the time we booked our cruise, and for several months after, NCL did not have any excursions listed for our cruise. When they did finally list some excursions, we found the prices to be extremely high. We did not book any excursions through NCL. We had a $50 per port excursion credit included as one of our perks but even with that credit, the NCL excursions were exorbitantly priced and we did better making our own plans.
  16. Thanks for the helpful information, everyone!
  17. Hi there! I'm a first time NCL cruiser. I've seen a few mentions about show reservations. I have cruised on a few other lines before this but none of them offered or required show reservations. You just show up at the theater or comedy venue and seating is first come, first served. So I get the impression that it is different on NCL and we need reservations. However no reservations are offered on my NCL "explore and plan" page. We are only about 3 weeks from sailing. Is there anything I need to do? We love to go to the shows and I don't mind arriving early to get a good seat. I don't want to miss out. Any suggestions? We are sailing on the Spirit to Norway on 6/14. Thanks!
  18. Hi there! I'm a first time NCL cruiser. I've seen a few mentions about show reservations. I have cruised on a few other lines before this but none of them offered or required show reservations. You just show up at the theater or comedy venue and seating is first come, first served. So I get the impression that it is different on NCL and we need reservations. However no reservations are offered on my NCL "explore and plan" page. We are only about 3 weeks from sailing. Is there anything I need to do? We love to go to the shows and I don't mind arriving early to get a good seat. I don't want to miss out. Any suggestions? We are sailing on the Spirit to Norway on 6/14. Thanks!
  19. We are booked on our first NCL cruise, sailing to Norway on the Spirit in June 2019. I've been doing some reading about the restaurants. We have the 4 specialty restaurant package. If I'm reading things correctly, there is an Italian restaurant on most NCL ships called La Cucina, but on the Spirit it is La Trattoria. What is the difference? I found one very old post that said La Trattoria only has a pasta bar. Has this changed? Does anyone have a current menu? And as long as we are talking about the Spirit, I'd love to hear any other comments you may have about the ship. What are your favorite restaurants and activities? Anything you don't like about the ship? Any other thoughts? Thanks!
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