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bigsweeps

January 2nd Spirit - Just returned

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Embarkation was supposed to begin at 4pm for the 5 day itenerary. We showed up at 2:20 and there was already a HUGE line (about 400+ people). We were a bit shocked. They had a small sign for VIP's on the far left - and since we had a suite, we went right through and were onboard within 10 minutes.

 

Our suite was an AB #10502 which is decorated in very light colored woods and light beige carpet/sofas. It is one of the two front corner suites which have the extra bathroom, bar and extra balcony. We were scheduled to have Denny as our butler (he handles the port side suites) but requested Maxi (he was our butler on our July cruise and normally handles the starboard side suites). The concierge was Lisa Meyer, a very young and friendly british girl who was very eager to please. We asked her if we could have Maxi as our butler and she took care of it. We also found out that Colin Veitch (Pres. of NCL) had been in the suite the week before and that it was his favorite on the ship.

 

Maxi (the butler) was fabulous as usual. We were sad to hear that he's leaving in February when his contract ends. He's not sure if he'll be back - he's waiting to be invited back on another contract. I sure hope NCL doesn't let him go - he's by far the best butler we've ever had (and all of them have been great). On our last cruise, we fell in love with the Chicken Satay and Gruyere Cheese Crepes Fondue that were served on two different nights in one of the dining rooms so we asked Maxi if he could arrange for us to have them again. We didn't want to ask too much, so we only requested one night but Maxi said "so every night at 5pm?" We laughed and said "No Maxi, tomorrow night only will be fine" and he said "I bring for you every night" in his sweet Bali accent. LOL! You can't argue with Maxi - he loves to spoil you! He also arranged for chocolate chip muffins for breakfast for my sister-in-law every morning, chocolate chip cookies every afternoon, and too many other things to list.

 

The ship felt VERY VERY full - you could tell it was at maximum capacity. It honestly felt very understaffed. If we hadn't had a suite, we would have been disappointed. The pool deck was beyond packed - far worse than I've seen on other NCL ships. Not an empty chair to be found by 9am. The shuffleboard, ping pong tables, basketball area and golf area were always full - so you had to wait a long time to use them. The specialty restaurants were so full that you couldn't get a reservation unless you "camped out" in the atrium before the line started. Fortunately we had the concierge book the restaurants we wanted at the start of the cruise. The menu choices weren't as good as our last cruise - no President's menu or some of our other favorites. We heard many people complain that the food choices weren't as good as previous cruises - most likely because it was a 5 night itenerary. We were able to overcome that by having Maxi bring us anything we wanted, but others that weren't in suites didn't have that luxury. We never ate at the buffet (and normally never do) but the food looked horrible when we walked through on our way to the biergarten.

 

Bistro - Great! Love the french onion soup, escargot and filet mignon with bernaise sauce. Excellent cheesecake!

 

Teppenyaki - Our favorite! You can't go wrong with anything here. Hardest reservation to get since there are only 12 seats.

 

La Trattoria - Limited pasta menu but decent food.

 

Maxim's - didn't eat there this cruise but did on our last. OK - but we prefer the bistro menu.

 

Blue Lagoon - Love the fries! I personally thought the burger had a funny taste. Decent soups and fried rice.

 

 

Activities and entertainment were horrible compared to what we've experienced on the Dawn and Majesty. Pure crap IMO. LOL!

 

All in all, we love the Spirit but I don't know if we would ever consider going on it again without a suite unless they improve the entertainment and non-specialty restaurant food choices.

 

If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer them.

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It was fantastic. About 80 during the day and 70 at night. I would think it will only get warmer by the end of January.

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Thanks for the quick reply! We have free flights down and are looking so forward to our first cruise. My mother offered to fly out and watch our children so we can escape alone. Is the dress fairly casual? My husband does not care to dress up in more than khakis! I do hope the weather is warmer at the end of January.

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Yes - dress is casual. In fact, I think Khakis were considered "dress up" for most people on the cruise. LOL! We saw plenty of people (ladies and gents) wearing t-shirts and non-denim colored jeans to dinner (black, tan, etc.).

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Bigsweeps:

 

Thanks for the review! I was on the same cruise as you and will post my review tomorrow. I agree with some of what you write (my girlfriend would probably agree with all of it. I had a good time, but her experience was a bit more negative.)

 

Sorry I didn't meet you on the cruise, but it sounds like you had a decent time with your suite! I went to a reception in IslandFan's suite and it was wonderful -- yummy caviar that Mike brought from Illinois and lots of wine flowing!

 

More tomorrow.

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DavidNDC - where was IslandFan's suite? Which butler did they have?

 

Don't get me wrong - I had a great time - but there is definitely room for improvement with the food and entertainment.

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Bigsweep:

 

IslandFan (actually, his real name is Bryan and his girlfriend is Suzie) had a suite at the absolute, very back of the ship. I remember this because when we were sailing away from Grand Cayman, I was standing on the balcony, and we were absolutely directly above the ship's wake.

 

He'll probably be posting here in a few days -- he's a FOMT if you follow that thread -- so you could probably ask him questions about his experience! I don't remember who his butlet was.

 

It looks like I am going on Hal's Zuiderdam (sp?) in May.

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I wish I had hooked up with others before the cruise - it would have been a blast to meet everyone. I hooked up with several cc members before my last cruise and we had a BLAST.

 

A couple things I forgot to mention about my trip. I flew down on Song airlines (owned by Delta). I've got to say they are now my favorite airline - even better than JetBlue (which I love). I highly recommend them!

 

For those looking to kill time after the cruise before a later flight, Alamo has a shuttle that will pick you up for free at the port and bring you to their rental office. They have cars as low as $30 per day and you can rent them one way (i.e. if you are leaving out of FLL).

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Sailaway Suzie and I were fortunate to enjoy the suite life in stateroom #9710 Aft. We really enjoyed the wonderful amenities and beautiful space our suite offered. As this was our first experience booking a suite, our expectations were certainly exceeded. Denny our butler was outstanding! We took advantage of his services on a daily basis, and he always came through for us. We loved having dinner in our suite the first evening. How glamorus we felt having dinner from Maxims served to us by a butler.

 

It was really fun hooking up with David and the other cruise critic members that we met on the ship. Our Sailaway party was a blast and we enjoyed the company of Sue and Roland from Florida, Mike, Bob, Mary, and Jan from Chicago, and of course David and Paula from DC. We feel very blessed to have met so many great folks on this board on our cruises.

 

My thoughts on this cruise are somewhat mixed, however we went on this cruise with the goal of laying back and relaxing after a rather hectic and stressful few months. We did just that, relaxed, spent our time together (Suzie agreed to marry me on Christmas Eve) and plan for our life together. Our perspective obviously is different that other guests, and our feelings are that NCL delivered a product that exceeded our expectations.

Although I might say that waiting for a table at a resturant, and playing the pool chair roulette game was a negative. The food in my mind was very good, and the staff tried very hard to satisfy our needs/wants. All in all, I found this cruise to be very good, and would recomend this ship to any of my friends.

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bigsweep~ Great review, and thanks for answering my questions regarding the "suite" life!

Congrats to islandfan, and glad you enjoyed your cruise also.

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Islandfan.....I wish we had met you and other cc members....sounds like you had a great time. It sounds like Denny has improved....because back in July there were many suite guests who weren't happy with his service. He wasn't willing to do the extra things that other butlers have done - like arrange with the chefs to make any dish you want. (Like I mentioned in my review, our butler arranged for lots of special items to be made....it was like having our own personal chef on call.)

 

Congratulations on your engagement! I guess it would be hard to have a bad time while celebrating something so special.

 

But I truly think that those without a suite might not have been as pleased. I saw several guests get upset when Lisa was escorting the VIP's off the ship at the end of the cruise (they were trying to join and get off and were told somewhat rudely that this was a VIP group), many people complaining at the front desk that the suite guests had taken all the good reservations at the speciality restaurants, etc. We didn't have to experience any waiting in lines because we either ate at a specialty restaurant or had our butler serve us in our suite. I'm not so sure I would have been happy waiting for 45 minutes for dinner, waiting in line for tender tickets, waiting in the long line to get on the ship, etc. I just don't like "cattle call" type situations and HATE crowds.

 

If I hadn't been on the Spirit in July, I might have thought the cruise was excellent - but if you thought this was nice - you should have been there in July! The ship had about 50% less people, FANTASTIC menus every night, much better entertainment, etc. I'm not saying this cruise was bad.....(it wasn't).....but compared to July there was room for improvement.

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Hey, Bryan! Good to see you back! And thank you and Suzie for letting us invade your suite! And I'm really sorry the NCL Spirit Rubber Duckie woke you up that night! (Um, long story....)

 

Anyway, I have to jump in here and say that Paula and I are on opposite sides of the ocean here. On the one hand....I think Bigsweeps IS right with all of her comments about the crowds and long lines and stuff. I have yet to see anything she has written that I disagree with.

 

On the other hand, I have to say (and I was in a balcony, so no perks) that there were few times that I minded waiting. I did mind the pool chair situation some. I did mind the Raffles carnage some, getting my breakfast buffet.

 

But you know what....it was a cruise....it is economy line. Throw me some food, a few books, I'm okay. I had a great, relaxing time and I'm ready to go back to work now!

 

Paula, on the other hand, is muttering that she will never go back on a cruise again! (It was her first.)

 

But I can work this. I'm already planning a cruise with friends in May and I asked Paula if she wanted to go, and her response was, "No way!" So the total cost will be maybe $3,600 for three of us in a mini-suite instead of $4,000 for four of us in two balconies.

 

Life has its sacrifices.

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We have your suite on the March 18 sailing. Can you give me any details? How was the balcony? Did it have chairs or chaise lounges? What things did you get priority for besides specialty restaurants. If you went to the regular restaurant, did you wait less time because you were a suite guest? Did you have dinner served in the suite by the butler? Do you know how long Denny has been there or how much longer he will be there? Do I need to bring a colapsable cooler for ice? Did you have a DVD or CD player in the room? Did you get a bar set up? We're going on the South itinerrary, you I'm looking forward to 9 long days and nights. We never sweat the little things.......but I love the thinking and planning I get to do until we leave.

 

Any info you wished you knew before you left about the Suite or ship...I'd love to hear.

Thanks so much,

FloridaMom

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So you only ate in suite or specialty restaurants? Sounds like my plan, though I'll probably try the dining room either on a formal night or Presidents Night, if there isn't too long a wait. How many suites does each butler handle? When they serve dinner......do they bring one course at a time and then go back to the kitchen for the next? If you order off the Maxim's menu are you charged the surchage of $25 each? Do you remember any entrees off the menu from Shogun?

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I was happy to be in a lovely Spirit suite in December.... on the five night itinerary. Denny was fine as our butler, he did anything asked, what more could anyone ask for? A fellow cc'er had Maxi, and they were very happy with him. My husband and I did not imagine asking him to have the chefs prepare something special.... to be quite honest, I was delighted with what was available.

 

We ate in our suite every morning, loved having hot breakfast, had snacks and some lunches in suite. We ate in the restaurants every day, no lines, no problems, enjoyed the atmosphere. I did eat in Raffles (once), it was much better than I expected - I had poached cod and eggplant parmigiana as well as many lovely vegetables. What looked terrible about the buffet walking by? It was clean and .... a buffet....

 

However, I disagree about the non-suite passengers... while I loved every minute of my "suite" experience, I would go again on the Spirit in a heartbeat, in any stateroom at all. Yes, the pool area is crowded... but all other public areas are lovely and not very crowded. There are only 18 suites on spirit

 

Oh, Lisa (conceirge) is Australian, from Brisbane. And yes, she was very helpful....

 

I am curious, since several here have suite experience, tipping was a big question mark for us, what is the appropriate tip for butler and concierge - nice to have info in case I ever get the chance to tip them again!

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So you only ate in suite or specialty restaurants? Sounds like my plan, though I'll probably try the dining room either on a formal night or Presidents Night, if there isn't too long a wait. How many suites does each butler handle? When they serve dinner......do they bring one course at a time and then go back to the kitchen for the next? If you order off the Maxim's menu are you charged the surchage of $25 each? Do you remember any entrees off the menu from Shogun?

 

There was no President's night on the 5 night itenerary. We ate in the main dining room once - but otherwise ate at specialty or in suite. The butler's handle 9 suites each. They will bring the food one course at a time and do a wonderful job. We weren't charged any extra surcharge for having the specialty restaurant food in our suite - but I think that varies by butler. Technically I think you're supposed to be charged. I don't remember the entrees off the menu from Shogun - sorry.

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As of right now - yes. Maxi's contract ends next month so he will be replaced with someone else. Very tough shoes to fill for the person they bring onboard. They do have other staff available to help them during busy times, but generrally speaking there aren't too many conflicts.

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My only complaint was that I was not really happy with the food selection. Other than that it was a nice week. The crowds never bothered me and we never had to wait for a table in the diningroom. However, we always saw people waiting when we finished dinner. I guess we came early enough (5:30)

 

My husband solved the pool chair nonsense by looking around and finding a chair with only a towel on it, and he took it. He moved the whole chair and found a place to sit. We NEVER saw anyone come back for the chair.

 

The rear deck outside of raffles was desserted every night by 8:00 or so. The kids hung out with some friends and had the place to themselves.

 

I am one of those 'no such thing as a bad cruise" people so I came home happy. I live in Buffalo so a week in the carribean in January is always a GOOD THING.

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We are cruising on the Spirit the end of January on a 5 night cruise. I read that they don't have the President's theme night. Can you tell me what the other theme nights are.

Thanks...PA Cruisers2

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I don't remember them all - there was the welcome dinner, the Captain's Gala menu (with Lobster), the Italian Dinner and 2 others. Honestly, the welcome dinner and Captain's Gala were the only 2 that appealed to me. The italian one wasn't as good as it used to be on the Majesty and Dawn.

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I'm staying in 10502 on the Jan. 30 sailing on the Spirit. We also have 4 other people going with us in two other cabins. Does anyone know what the proper etiquette is for having dinner in your stateroom with four other people? Is it inappropriate to ask the butler to serve all of us? What about drinks in the stateroom, can he pour drinks for all six of us? I'm a bit concerned about the overcrowding since it is the other four peoples' first cruise and this might be one way to help avoid the crowds. Thanks!

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We had 3 others traveling with us. It is not inappropriate to ask the butler to serve everyone as long as you tip accordingly. Just be aware that the table only seats 4 - so we had to have 2 people sit on the club chairs and use the coffee table as a 2nd dining table (which works fine since the table is so high). As far as pouring drinks - I'm not sure what you mean. He doesn't mix drinks but will pour wine. Any mixed drinks should come from the bar. Don't forget that others in your part can go in the VIP line with you and you can get VIP tender tickets, etc for them.

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