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DavidNDC

My Spirit Review, Jan. 2-7, Part Three

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Parts One and Two of this review included the following:

 

GETTING THERE

OUR CABIN

PUBLIC ROOMS

THE CASINO

SHORE EXCURSIONS

THE FOOD

 

Part Three includes:

THE CROWDS

SHOPPING

ENTERTAINMENT

PEOPLE

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

 

Part Three:

 

THE CROWDS

 

Here we come to the really negative part of this review. This ship was not built for five- or seven-day cruises, nor was it built for the American market. And it certainly felt much -- MUCH -- more crowded than any other ship I had been on. One example was on the "sea days" out by the swimming pool. Unless you get up really early you are simply not going to get a lounge chair by the swimming pool. There are your usual chair hogs -- but the chair hogs on this cruise were a little more clever than most. They did not merely reserve their chairs by putting a towel on them (illegal on most cruise lines). Rather, they reserved their chairs by putting a towel AND a personal item on them (like a book, for example).

 

Paula and I were hopelessly looking for two chairs so that we could sit by the pool and we ran across one woman who was "reserving" five or six chairs for her friends. When I asked if every one was being used, she said, "Oh yes, they'll be right back!"

 

Right -- after they finish their naps and trips to the spa!

 

Other crowds -- or what I call "choke points" -- on this cruise occurred in Raffles during the morning buffet, where the crowd was simply intolerable; on the elevators during many times of the day; and waiting for dinner in the main restaurants on the "at sea" days. NCL Spirit simply has to address this latter problem -- freestyle is not supposed to mean waiting for 45 minutes, as some people clearly were during one night on the cruise. Although Paula and I planned fairly carefully and hardly ever had to wait, I encountered some very hungry, unhappy campers who were not so fortunate!

 

One piece of advice: If you can stomach (ha ha!) eating very early or very late, do it! Generally speaking, all of the restaurants will seat you any time from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The crowds really seem to be worse from 7 p.m. to perhaps about 8:30 p.m. Paula and I got into La Bistro and Shoguns no problem by being flexible with our times, and the same thing went for Windows during our last "at sea" day. We were seated at perhaps 5:40 p.m. in Windows and there were tons of empty tables. Yet halfway through our meal, I did notice that every single table quickly had filled in this huge restaurant and there was a growing waiting list outside.

 

A final note: Some people have complained that there are vibrations in Windows when the ship is moving and you are eating. Not to sound callous, but it is a ship, and even with all the modern technologies, stabilizers, etc., sometimes there are going to be vibrations. You're on a ship. Get over it.

 

SHOPPING.

 

I, personally, am not all that into shopping. Paula likes to shop but reported that the offerings on this cruise were so meager that she would be embarrassed to bring anything back as souvenirs. Indeed, the four or so shops they had on the ship were slim pickings compared to the other ships I have been on. And Paula did not care for the offerings in Grand Cayman or Roatan. Bottom line: If shopping is an integral part of your cruise, then this is not the cruise for you.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

 

The entertainment never seems to vary from cruise ship to cruise ship, but may have been a little bit worse on this ship. Paula and I went and watched a ship's production that had something to do with celebrating the world's greatest cities (we left after New York City and while they were on, um, Nashville). I didn't like the musical so much and kept trying to get Paula to leave. She said, "I can't! It's like watching a car accident!" But finally we left.

 

Another poor spot was the ship's talent search -- basically they invited the ship's passengers to audition and they selected seven of them to perform songs. Whew. Two of them were really above average. The others ranged from painful to, well, painful.

 

There two bright spots, however. First, several evenings Paula and I watched this duo named PrimeThyme. They were pretty good! A very attractive couple from Barbados, they did pop hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

 

Finally, on the last "at sea" day right before the so-called "talent search," they had a talent show involving crew members. Let me tell you: the talent pool among the ship's crew was much deeper than among the passengers! This was a fun time.

 

PEOPLE

 

As has mostly been the case (with the NCL Dawn being somewhat of an exception) the people on this cruise were wonderfully friendly. About ten of us met through cruisecritic.com and Bryan and Suzie were kind enough to have us to a wonderful "sail-away" party in their nice suite the third day of the cruise, when we sailed away from Grand Cayman. (And Mike, that caviar was WONDERFUL!!!!!)

 

Bryan and Suzie were in Suite 9710. It was square away at the back of the ship. When you looked down from the balcony, you were standing immediately over the ship's wake. To me, the ride at the back of the ship felt incredibly smooth! NCL Spirit, unlike all of the brand-new ships, only has 17 or so suites. So (like Paula and I) you might not be able to afford one. But if you can, go ahead and splurge -- you will be glad you did! And the bathtub/hot tub/window overlooking the ocean looked wonderful!!!

 

A good number of the people I chatted with on this cruise went because a) it was five days or b) it was reasonably priced or c) the timing (Jan. 2-7) was simply right. In other words: For last minute, this was a (relatively) last-minute cruise. This wasn't the NCL Dawn or the NCL Pride of America out of Hawaii! So we couldn't really expect the experience that we might have gotten if we had paid more.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Would I go on the Spirit again? Sure, if the circumstances were right and it was the best deal available. Would Paula go on it again? She says -- with the type of resoluteness that only Paula can muster -- absolutely not.

 

I am both happy and sad about this cruise. I am happy because I got to introduce Paula to cruising at what was really the best deal we might ever be fortunate enough to run across.

 

Yet I am sad, because I wanted her to think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But the truth, and fact, of the matter is this: Cruising is not for everyone. For me, the worst day on a cruise beats the best day at work. For me, as I said at the beginning of this lengthy review, you could throw me into a bathtub at sea, give me some books and food and I would be happy. For Paula this is not the case. Better for us to learn this on an affordable cruise then to pay double the price and learn this lesson!

 

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me at delliotdc@aol.com

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Excellent review! I must say I completely agree with everything you said. There are times that I read reviews and think "were they on the same ship I was?" - but not this time. You were right on.

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Thanks, Bigsweeps!

 

I have to say I would rank this cruise fourth out of the five I have been on. I would put NCL Dawn first (BARELY ahead of my two Celebrity Century cruises, which would be second and third), then the NCL Spirit fourth, and then the RCCL ship whose name I forget would be last.

 

Are there any upcoming cruises in your future?

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I always LOVE reading reviews! Like Bigsweeps said, I often wonder if people were on the same cruise as I was on! ;)

 

I have also been on several cruises, and really enjoyed the Spirit. I agree with Paula that there just wasn't much to do on this one, but that didn't disappoint me because all I wanted to do was, well....absolutely nothing (stress-relief cruise)! Also, we always ate after 7:00 (after our kids were in the kids club) and never had to wait. Maybe it makes a difference if you're not willing to share a table, which we were...

 

I cracked up reading your review about the show...my husband and I called it a train wreck! The blonde lead singer was really, really bad...I almost felt sorry for her! I do have to say that the other show (the one where they did a musical, radio-esque revue) was much better. We actually (dare I say it?) enjoyed it, except for the God-awful wailings of that horrible blonde singer. And the magician was good, too, even though we're not usually into that sort of thing. The problem was that there really wasn't that much else to do, so we were kind of "stuck".

 

I really hate what has happened to Grand Cayman. I've been before, and have always thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. Not anymore. Tragically, it's not at all nice to look at, the shopping is still dull and overpriced, and the winds often keep you from doing the one cool thing left - Stingray City. And after spending the day before at an amazing (and very inexpensive) beach in Cozumel, we hated 7-mile beach. Overcrowded, overpriced, and the wind was blowing so hard (our Stingray excursion was also cancelled) that the sand felt like it was sandblasting you. Not worth the stop for some rum cake. I can't wait for it to come back, but that will be 5 - 10 years (just like Miami after Hurricane Andrew).

 

Anyway, please encourage your girlfriend to try cruising again! That's the great thing about it...something different every time.

 

Glad you enjoyed it!

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Yeah - I would put the Dawn first too. We've only been on the Dawn, Majesty, Sea and Spirit (for NCL) and the Grand Princess. I would rate the Sea as my least favorite. If it hadn't been for the fabulous suite and amazing butler (Maxi), the Spirit would have been 3rd on my list, but for now it's second. Unfortunately, ever since NCL bumped us up to the owner's suite on the Majesty, we can't seem to do without a suite. LOL! I know it sounds snotty - but trust me - once you have one it's tough to go back to a regular room without all the perks.

 

There's always upcoming cruises in my future. My husband and I only cruise on NCL because we love the freestyle concept. We've tried Princess but it wasn't for us - the entertainment was so so and food was bland and boring.

 

I won business class airline tickets just before we left - so before we go on another cruise, we're going to Japan and China for a couple weeks. Hopefully we'll go on the Dawn again in the fall (so there will be less kids onboard compared to summer)

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Quincella: Thanks for your nice words -- I'll share them with Paula! I think she'll appreciate your perspective, especially as you two see eye to eye on the ship entertainment and on Grand Cayman.

 

Bigsweeps: I don't think it is snooty at all for saying you only want to be in a suite! Two of my five cruises have been in "mini" or "junior" suites, where we had limited butler service, snacks delivered in the afternoon, preferred tendering, dinner reservations, etc. I would do it this way every time if I could! I couldn't this time because of circumstances, but maybe next time!

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....Sounds like you had a lot of fun.

 

I hope you left the place in one peice for us!

 

If you had cocktails and a gala sailaway in Bryan and Suze's suite, you know what great people they are. Sounds like some new victims, er, members of FOMT were initiated, too! Dave, it's too bad those two lovebirds spent so much time in their cabin "stateroom snorkeling." Your lady friend may have been given the full treatment and be hooked on cruising FOMT style forever!!!

 

Anyway, now that you are back and starting to decompress, I'd like to ask a couple of questions:

 

I heard that there aren't any piano bars on the ship. I thought Champagne Charlies was used for that purpose?

 

Bigsweeps,

you MUST TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE SINGAPORE SUITE!!! Are you planning on posting some pictures?

 

Also, I have heard that Maxi is the butler to get. Do you think I'd be out of line if I asked the concierge for him instead of others?

 

What do you tip a butler on a 9 day cruise? Do they get the money from the automatic tipping, too?

 

How was kareoke? I hear that is big in Asia.

 

I don't really care about a spot right next to the pool on sea days. But I would like to get a spot on the next deck up. Just close enough to hear the band, but not so close that I can hear all the children (young and old) screeching and thrashing around. Are there enough chairs on the upper deck so I don't have to show up at the crack of dawn to get a spot?

 

Would the forward balcony in 10502 be too windy to be used for a relaxing day in the sun on sea days when the ship is in motion? Are there even any chairs or lounges out there? Do you think it is big enough for sunning on a lounge chair?

 

I'll have more questions later, but I'll give you a chance to catch your breath.

 

Thanks for the review, Dave. Welcome home.

 

MrTractor<-----------is just on a long excursion off his next ship.........

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The suite is very nice. A bit on the small side compared to most AB suites on other NCL ships, but very comfortable. I didn't take any pictures of the suite, but there are some here:

http://community.webshots.com/album/224277030qaTdwk

Note: the photos make the suite look a little messy - it's because their personal belongings were around. The one big negative of this suite is lack of storage space. Unless you use the drawers out in the living room in the TV cabinet, you may have a tough time storing your clothes. The closet is about half the size of the closets in other staterooms and there are only a few tiny drawers. The bed is on the firm side (I consider it hard as a rock) but I still slept fine on it. As long as the ship is at sea and moving, I find I can sleep on almost any bed.

 

I would ask Lisa Meyer (the concierge) if you can have Maxi as soon as possible when you get onboard. She did it for us and I'm sure she would do it for you. Once Maxi introduces himself to other guests, it will be harder for her to switch them around. Maxi will have the chefs make you anything you want as long as you give him a days notice. That's a real treat! We had the chicken satay set up on a big tray for appetizers before dinner. I brought a box of wine (the better boxed stuff - not the cheapie crap) and really enjoyed having appetizers and wine in our suite every night.

 

As far as tipping goes, it's hard to say. It depends on how much you use them and if they do special things for you. I've seen people tip as low as $3.50/pp per day. We tipped Maxi $250 on our 7 day cruise and $200 on the 5 day. Some people might consider that high - but I felt he deserved it. He served us breakfast every day and dinner many times. We also requested that 50% of our automatic tips be removed since we didn't eat in the main restaurants. (The auto tips are divided 50% to main dining room staff and 50% to room stewards).

 

Honestly the chairs were all filled by 9am on ALL decks. There was not a chair to be found! They don't have enough space IMO for guests on deck during the day compared to other ships.

 

The front balcony isn't usually too windy on sea days - at least it wasn't for us - we were going somewhat slow during the daytime. There are two teak loungers out there with cushions. The balcony is very wide but not very deep - so the chairs have to go sideways or at an angle. There is also a lounger on the side balcony.

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.....that's good advice about Maxi! I'll ask when we get on the ship.

 

I didn't think you'd get too much sun on the side balcony, so I was thinking you could use the front one. But if it's too windy or the sun is not at the right angle, we would want to go up on deck for a little sunbathing. Do you think if we asked Maxi to go reserve us a couple of deck loungers, he'd do it? Or would that be too much to ask??? :rolleyes:

 

I had seen those pix of the suite before and wondered about the cluttered look of the living room. I don't get how the arm chairs are up agains the wall next to the dining table. Seems like you could do something else with all that. The pix I've seen of the AB suite on the other side of the ship showed only one arm chair and seemed like it made more sense. As far as storage, we'll just have to make due. This is a 9 dayer, though and we'll have to bring a few more things than usual.

 

I've seen the bar described as a "wetbar." Is it?

 

We leave one week from tomorrow!!!!!!!

 

MrTractor<------thinks part of the fun is the anticipation. Even though it drives him crazzzyyyyy!!!!..............

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Yes, I think Maxi could arrange for a couple deck loungers to be held (he would probably have someone he knows who's working up there do it).

 

Normally the chairs aren't up against the wall - it looks like the people moved things around. The dining room table is usually a little further over to the right and closer to the windows. One chair is close to the pole, the other is just opposite it across the table and the loveseat is up against the wall. If you are having 4 people at the table, sometimes you need to push one of the chairs out of the way a bit.

 

The bar is not a "wetbar" IMO. I was always under the impression that wetbars had a small sink of some sort.

 

I'm VERY VERY jealous. Have a great time!!!!!

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.....what I was thinking as far as the furniture arrangement.

 

I agree. If it doesn't have a sink, it isn't a wet bar! So descriptions of the stateroom like the one on www.cruisesonly.com are WRONG!!!!

 

Is the wall between you and the next suite as thin as people say? It would be a darn shame to have to embarass the neighbors with any late night noises. :rolleyes: OR VICE VERSA!

 

What about the stereo? We don't play it particularly loud, but we take our laptop and link it up to one of the stereo inputs. We have mp3s of 11 hours of our favorites on there. But our favorites may not be the favorites of our next door neighbors. AND VICE VERSA!

 

Is there a DVD or VCR in the bedroom, too, or just the living room?

 

What is the half bath like?

 

I can't quite tell from the pictures. Are there two sinks in the master bath?

 

Sorry about all the questions. You can see now it was MY TURN TO BE JEALOUS LAST WEEK!!!

 

MrTractor<---------------knows he is a lucky man...........

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Yes - it's thin and you can often hear the people next door. (It's living room to living room though so any bedroom activities probably can't be heard). When I was on the ship in July and fellow CC members were next door, we often had conversations through the wall as we sat on our sofas. LOL!

 

I didn't see a stereo (but frankly I didn't look). There is a DVD player in the living room only. The TV in the bedroom is TINY and there isn't really room to move the DVD player in there.

 

The half bath is georgeous but small. As you enter the door, the toilet is on the right. If you're sitting on the toilet, the sink and mirror would be straight in front of you.

 

Yes, there are two sinks in the master bath. The soaps and shampoos are all L'Occitane (very nice IMO).

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Mr T:

 

You have to watch out for the People Next Door on your cruise.

 

In fact: I have been told that the People Next Door on Your Cruise represent a potential HUGE problem!!!!

 

I would tell you more but I have been called for jury duty tomorrow and am sworn to secrecy.

 

Good luck with your cruise!

 

David

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I was in that room over the New Years cruise and that room was great

you can sit on the front balcony and relax in the sun even though it is narrow you can get 2 people in chaise lounges.

Maxi was not our butler but he was on the floor and I know him from a previous cruise.He was great-remember your butler and concierge can do everything for you.

make sure you make reservations for yhe specialty restaurants as soon as you get on board.We had super service and great food everyehere .

Raffles was ok but always crowded.

bill

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yes we had denny and he is wonderful

I like him a lot even vs maxi whom I know from a previous cruise

they are both capable but this past trip showed me how denny gets the job done and maxi is good about talking about it.

 

either way they will do you just fine

please tell them we said hello

bill,joan and jesse baier

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A "Spirit" question . . .

Is there a particular bar where Latitudes members can get a discount on drinks. On the Dawn it is in Spinnaker Lounge. Might as well get a break if you can...Right? :D

 

PA Cruisers2

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