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wbrumel

Spirit 2/27 review: Animal House at Sea

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Just returned from the spring break frat party on the 5 day Spirit cruise which sailed on Feb 27. Here are the impressions of this 50 yr old experienced cruiser...

First, NCL should have told me that there were 800 (that's right, 800!!!) college students on board. I had no access to the pool or hottubs all week because they were inundated with frat boys and girls gone wild. The only thing missing was Howard Stern. Never before have I been on a cruise where the captain was forced to make daily announcements about appropriate behavior. The ship was vandalized and some passengers were actually ejected from the ship in Roatan. Many passengers (thankfully not me) suffered from partying students in the hallways at 3am. Frankly, I thought it was too early for spring break when I booked this trip... but for those going in the next several weeks, bring earplugs and lots of patience.

The weather only half cooperated; our first two days were cloudy with some rain but it got nicer and we had a beautiful day in Roatan and on our return sea day.

To respond to some of the comments I've read in other posts:

The ship is beautiful, with its Asian Superstar Leo influences everywhere. I too hope they retain these touches when it goes into drydock because it made it quite special. It is nicely maintained (saw no signs of wear) and contrary to a recent reviewer, I found the service exceptional and the staff quite pleasant, friendly and eager to serve. My balcony cabin was made up twice daily.

We ate at LeBistro twice; this restaurant is clearly the best food and service on board (altho I did not try Maxims because my son, with whom I was travelling, does not eat red meat). The chocolate fondue is not to be missed and the cover charge is worth it.

If you go to the main restaurants between and 7 and 8 pm, expect to wait about 20 - 30 mins to be seated. Avoid those times. You can reserve up to two days in advance for specialty restaurants at the table in the atrium. Do it when you first get up in the morning and you'll have no problems.

Have the fish n' chips at Henry's Pub served from 12-2 on sea days. It's great. Also go into Henry's at nite... there's a great guitarist/singer alternating nights with a piano/singer. Both are really entertaining, nice talented guys who enjoy interacting with the crowd.

The ship did not rock any more or less than other ships I've been on in comparable seas. It does have a shimmy or vibration in certain areas at certain times (oddly, not confined to the bottom rear as is usual). I ate in Windows one afternoon and felt no vibration.

Hint for Roatan: forget walking around on your own (there's nothing worth seeing in "town") or booking overpriced ship shore excursions. He will set you up with himself or another English speaking guide for the day. (Ours was Larry and he was great). Ask for a one hour tour of the island and then to Fosters at West Bay. We had a great day there. You'll enjoy the restaurant and beach and you'll see a lof the island just going there. Check out their website for more info: We only paid $5 pp for a chair for the day.

Any questions, I'll be happy to answer. You can post here or email me at wbrumel@optonline.net.

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Wow! Great review -- my only question is -- "Did you do "The Twist" on the deck? (I have visions of "Animal House..."a little bit slower now, a little bit slower now...")

 

Too bad no-one gave you a "heads up" about all the college students. But, you live and learn and, from the sounds of things you made the best of things.

 

I am hoping my sister, her husband and their friends have a great time when they leave on 3/27/05!

 

Thanks for your help!

 

Kim :rolleyes:

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All students have a break for a week in Feb. It is usually the third or last week of the month. Why would NCL tell you. Then you may not go and they would have empty cabins.

 

I was on Celebrity Millenium once with a ton of gay men. Luckily, it was not an issue for me. To each his own. Celebrity did not tell me. How could they know if I would be offended had they called me and said " Oh, by the way,.." Same with the kids, how could they know your offspring wasn't among the vacationers.

 

A bad day of cruising yada yada yada...

 

Glad you had fun anyway.

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you sound like you took most of this with a laugh and had a good time in spite or the Animal House experience. I would have been a bit shocked as well, but no, NCL, should not have told you. While I was still in the hotel business the gay convention thing became as issue when a particular hotel did not inform the guests that the convention would be at the hotel: Of course some moms with kids had some explaning to do, but the hotel was not responsible for informing the guests. The ships try to sell out; summer time is also a time for kids, the week or two after school is out the ships are filled with college kids and recent grads, but the ships do not bring this to everyone's attention anymore than they would tell a family: gee there aren't any kids on this cruise, would you like to re-book for anyother date? I do understand your frustration. NMnita

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I forgot to mention the entertainment. The production shows looked like something a community college would put on, altho the second show was better than the first. The comedian was horrible. The magician, however, was entertaining and amazing.

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Oh boy I don't know what I would have done. I can just picture all those college kids going nuts :eek: I am so happy to hear the nice things about the ship I will be on her in a few weeks.

 

Henry's Pub sounds like where I want to be. What type of music were the guitarist & piano player doing?

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I forgot to mention the entertainment. The production shows looked like something a community college would put on

 

 

Well that explains why there were so many students on board....they all came to watch their friends perform!! :D

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Henry's Pub sounds like where I want to be. What type of music were the guitarist & piano player doing?

 

They played a nice range of music... mostly "light" stuff... James Taylor, Carol King, Billy Joel. Guitarist played classical guitar music too, but familiar favorites like Malaguena.

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You stated you had a balcony room..What cabin # and how roomy was it?

 

My traveling partner who plays the vibes with a jazz group will be thrilled to here that there are guitarist playing.

 

We are leaving on 4/10...hope there's not as many college kids on this sailing!

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What happened to the rule of one person in the cabin must be 25 or older? Most college kids are under age 25.

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You stated you had a balcony room..What cabin # and how roomy was it?

 

We were in 11102. It was quite comfortable. I forgot to mention in my review that I thought that the bathroom layout on this ship was the best I ever experienced, with three separate compartments (shower/sink/toilet) that had sliding glass doors between them. The shower was a nice size, and the sliding door kept water from going all over the bathroom like it does on many ships with shower curtains.

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What happened to the rule of one person in the cabin must be 25 or older? Most college kids are under age 25.

The rule was obviously not enforced or reduced to 21. Amazing what happens when you book 300 rooms. Gives you some clout.

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I write this with such mixed emotions. I have two degrees from the University of Florida. I worked my way through school so I could never have afforded a cruise when I was in college. After I paid for tuition, books, housing, and food, I was down to skin. This will "date me," but I earned my first degree in 1975 and my second in 1979. Certainly, there were parties all over when I was young, but I witnessed some things on the cruise that made me very, very sad.

 

It is my understanding that the University of Florida (through its Student Activities Program) was involved in reserving blocks of rooms for the students. It is also my understanding that each room had a person 21 years or older functioning as "The Guardian." From the information I garnered on the cruise, an undetermined number of "Guardians" functioned as legal purchasers of alcohol.

 

I am 52 years old now and can finally afford to enjoy the "fruits of my labors." I took my first cruise ever this past summer to Alaska. The cruise ship was the NCL Spirit. I have such beautiful memories of breathtaking scenery, gracious staff, exquisite decor, and families enjoying everything the Spirit has to offer.

 

Booking a second cruise on The Spirit was something that my husband and I were very, very excited about. I must say that the staff was even more gracious and patient than before. Our excursions to snorkel over a coral reef, visit Stingray City, and play with the dolphins off Roatan were absolutely spectacular. The food was delicious, and I would not hesitate to sail on The Spirit again.

 

On the other hand, I want to share some disturbing behaviors of the spring breakers that I witnessed:

 

On the day we had to tender from Grand Cayman back to the Spirit, the water was very rough. Passengers were assisted by concerned staff as we each faced the tender banging against the sea wall. Once on the tender, my husband and I were seated in the middle of a group of spring breakers. Two words seemed to be constantly part of their lexicon: the "F" word and the "S" word. Small children, seniors, and young families all around, were treated to shouting, screaming, and lovely communications such as: "Shut the f___ up!" and "S___! I ran out of f___ing whiskey!" and "This cruise really sucks." and "I'm so f___ing wasted." Because of the rough seas, it took a long time to safely fill the tender with people. Consequently, everyone was forced to listen to these shouted conversations for quite some time.

 

I could not help but think of our young people serving in the military. They have demonstrated so much character and courage. Those who have chosen college can choose to demonstrate good manners. How could they behave this way in front of children? How could they appear to be so proud of how vulgar they were and how drunk they could get?

 

As I mentioned before, The Spirit is a really beautiful ship with many exquisite and valuable pieces. It was sad to see beer bottles in the hallways, in the pool, next to a sculpture, etc. It was sad to see a young girl, dressed in a tube top and carrying a bottle of beer, enter LeBistro shouting incoherently about her reservation.

 

I heard many stories from other passengers. I hope they choose to share on this board. Furthermore, I hope the young people take some time to relate their impressions of the cruise. There were college students present who were very polite and seemed embarrassed by their peers.

 

As a University of Florida alumni, I found this experience to be a public relations disaster for the school. I intend to write a letter to the university. I intend to stop sending donations.

 

One of my last memories of the cruise is of one of the NCL staff members telling me that he felt terrible that many passengers didn't get an opportunity to really relax on the cruise. He avoided saying anything bad about the students because graciousness and good manners are just part of his nature.

 

Sorry that I have written so much here, but I think the issue of spring breakers on cruises affects all cruise lines and passengers. Any university who arranges for blocks of rooms should know that their school is being represented by the students on board. I have taught high school for twenty-five years. Every year, I'm asked by students to recommend colleges. Right now, I have no desire to sing the praises of the University of Florida.

 

Hope this thread will lead to open and honest dialogue about how to deal with spring break on a cruise.

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We just got back from the Spirit also. We heard the count of young people was more like 1000 to 1400. As for the person who said spring breaks were always in Feb., I'd never heard of a spring break here in Florida before March. We surely thought Feb. 27th would be safe, that's why we booked. Next time I'll check the school schedules LOL. We had a great time though. It was our first cruise and we tried not to let any one thing ruin it for us. We ate at Windows every night and found going between 5:30 and 6 got us right in and most times by a window. We thought the food was great and the service was excellant there. Our one complaint with food would be Raffles, the buffet. It was convenient, but the food wasn't that great (please cook the scrambled eggs more) and tended to be cool by the time we got our drinks and to a table. Also the cups were too small, next time I will take a larger cup with me. But we adjusted and got the french toast for breakfast and salads for lunch.

 

We were on deck 9 in a balcony room with Roberto and Rosa (I think the names are correct, I'm not as good as they are for remembering the exact names but I'm close lol)for our stewarts and they were excellant. Very friendly, heard our names once the first evening and knew our name and room number when we saw him by the elevator later that night and greeted us by name every time after that. They kept our room very nice for us and we enjoyed talking with them.

 

We only saw one production show, the last night. We enjoyed it alot and thought the performers were good. Not sure why others have been so critical, must have expected true Broadway talent. But think if you have Boadway talent, you're on Broadway, not a cruise ship. LOL The singers were good, the guys more than the gals to me and the dancers I thought did a nice job. We were sorry we hadn't made an effort to see more of the shows.

 

Will probably have more to say as I recover. Funny I never noticed my house swayed before. LOL

 

Debbie

PS Enjoyed meeting some of our fellow CC posters at the get together

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First a clarification on the 25 versus 21 year old requirement: It is required someone 25 or older be in a cabin if the person sharing the cabin is under 21. If everyone is 21 or over, no one has to be 25. Of course it this case it appears not all the kids were 21 or over. It's like all the other policies and rules we constantly talk about on these threads: soime are enforced, others not. I woul not want to be the one that breaks the rules, but we all know some people just don't care. Most cruise lines do not push the 21 versus 25 policy too much. I have booked cabins for people, mostly families where there will be 3 cabins. The only adult is one parent. I did this once on RCI. Now for the Spring break being in Feb. Debbie, I have never heard of a Feb break either; I have heard of a winter or ski break in the No East (regular schools, not colleges) usually early in Feb. Even that isn't common place. Obviously Florida takes breaks at different times than some other colleges. Our grandaughter who attends Colo State will be on Spring break starting Mar 14 and our other grandaughter at University of Arkansas doesn't have hers til the following week. By the way, she will not be on a cruise ship, but those of you who live in Panama City Florida look out!! The Hogs are coming!!! NMnita

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You expressed my mixture of feelings exactly, including my dismay that so many young people had a disregard for persons and property. I know there were many good kids there who were embarrassed by the actions of their peers.

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I forgot to mention.... the Captain of the Spirit was on our flight to Newark NJ from Miami. As I passed him dressed in civilian clothes (in first class), I had just enough time to confirm it was him. Guess he had enough of spring break and needed a well deserved break himself.

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Sandpebbles - I could not agree more with your comments. First, let me say (write) that my husband and I chose the Feb. 27 sailing thinking that we would be avoiding the spring breakers (and I use the term "breakers" literally). I retired from 30 years of service at a local university, and the spring break was never until mid-March.

 

From the onset of the cruise, I was horrified at the behavior of many of these young people. They showed no respect for the young, elderly, ship's property, officers, crew, or (sadly) themselves - it was unbelievable. Never have I heard the "f-word" used so much. It surpassed the "Sopranos".

 

The passengers on this cruise were split into two groups - the college kids and the "rest of us." By the second day, it was clear that the "rest of us" would have to fend for ourselves. Although the captain made announcements every day about inappropriate behavior (and even sent out a letter), the ship continued to sell alcoholic beverages to those who could hardly walk, ignore bad language, allow 20-25 kids in a hot tub, ignore running and screaming throughout the common areas and through the buffet lines, etc., etc. Rooms were vandalized and beautiful furnishings were ripped from the walls. My husband witnessed several of the students inside the Raffles buffet having a sword fight with the large yellow signs that had been set around to warn us about the wet floors. In the library/internet cafe, kids were jumping on the furniture. At the Grand Cayman Island, the tenders were backed up and delayed while the ship's crew CARRIED!! drunk students from the island onto the tenders.

 

My husband and I had a balcony cabin, and we spent much of our time there listening to the carnage taking place above us around the pool. We considered ourselves fortunate to have a place where we could escape and still enjoy the scenery, but I felt badly for those who did not.

 

I talked to the crew, the officers, even the students themselves, but nothing changed. Our way of dealing with it was to go on with our plans, spend time with our friends, and confront the students who directly offended us. When we became completely disgusted, we retreated to our room. It's my hope that others who belonged to the "rest of us" group were able to find a way to still enjoy their cruise.

 

Let me end on a positive note. The Spirit is an absolutely beautiful ship, and the crew are so sweet and friendly. My cousin did the Stingray City tour in Grand Cayman and had a wonderful time. The highlight of the cruise (for me) was the Canopy Tour and Tabyana beach party in Roatan. I highly recommend this excursion. For anyone cruising during March and April, there's fun to be had - just beware of the animals.

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We too are just back from the 2/27 sailing. Hi Debbie, it was nice to meet you and your husband and other Cruise Critic friends.

 

I will be posting a full review later on this cruise. We had a marvelous time! We loved the ship and the crew.

 

However, the college kids were the most vulgar group of young people we have witnessed. It was a sad experience to say the least to think of these kids as future leaders of anything... they were completely out of control drunks with the worst vocabulary ever. Now, picture a lovely ship, great asian decor, good staff and 1000 college kids screaming, yelling, drinking, vomiting and doing damage against the remaining passengers who are upright citizens just trying to enjoy this classic ship. Now, before I go on, I know there were some college kids not participating in these activities but the majority appeared to be. The pool area and buffet became off limits to us because they overtook these areas specifically. The hottubs were overrun, there was no way you could even approach one. At one time, we sat in the Bier Garten and counted 16 kids in one tub. Others were filled likewise. Animal house is an accurate description! We went to Shogun one night (Teppanyaki) and of course there was a college couple who were completely obnoxious and managed to ruin the evening. On Sunday evening, we retired to our room early because of the horrific attitudes, screaming, vulgarity etc. etc. in the hallways and bars. One evening in Le Bistro, there were continual kids running past the restaurant yelling and screaming. Kind of ruins the romantic atmosphere of this lovely restaurant.

 

Now, from NCL's perspective and what I have been told by Officers from the ship.

 

1. On Tuesday (Grand Caymen) they flew in two Miami Police Officers to help with the mess.

2. The damage done included; pulling one of the lovely, vintage-like house phones out of the wall, damage to artwork, damage to some of the asian artifacts, pulling star shaped deck number indicators off the walls. A fight in one of the staterooms resulted in blood all over, and a broken bed from jumping on it are some of the things I remember.

3. Two people were put off the ship in Honduras.

4. Charges were being filed for damage and some individuals but not all had been caught.

5. One special sign was posted near the pool that glass was not allowed in the pool or deck area. This was constantly ignored and crew was frequently telling people of the rule. The kids never seemed to catch on and this rule was continually being challenged throughout the cruise.

6. On Monday night, all staterooms received a letter from the Captain with a warning about behavior and damage. In addition, the Captain made several public announcements about behavior and damage throughout the cruise.

7. On Monday or Tuesday (can't remember which day), we were in our room and received an obscene phone call. Grow up kids! How old are you that you are still making prank phone calls. Little did they know, since we were in a Penthouse, we had caller ID. We simply called and reported it. Security confirmed through phone records, the individuals were caught and a warning was given to the three BOYS (I stress boys, not men).

 

Were we disappointed and shocked, absolutely! We never dreamt that it would be spring break for anyone. Did we think that NCL was handling it, yes. Did we let it ruin our time, no. I will be posting a full review this next week of this lovely ship and the wonderful service we experienced.

 

wbrumel - you saw the Captain on your flight as this was his last cruise before his vacation.

 

Watch for my full review later.

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We too are just back from the 2/27 sailing. Hi Debbie, it was nice to meet you and your husband and other Cruise Critic friends.

 

I will be posting a full review later on this cruise. We had a marvelous time! We loved the ship and the crew.

 

However, the college kids were the most vulgar group of young people we have witnessed. It was a sad experience to say the least to think of these kids as future leaders of anything... they were completely out of control drunks with the worst vocabulary ever. Now, picture a lovely ship, great asian decor, good staff and 1000 college kids screaming, yelling, drinking, vomiting and doing damage against the remaining passengers who are upright citizens just trying to enjoy this classic ship. Now, before I go on, I know there were some college kids not participating in these activities but the majority appeared to be. The pool area and buffet became off limits to us because they overtook these areas specifically. The hottubs were overrun, there was no way you could even approach one. At one time, we sat in the Bier Garten and counted 16 kids in one tub. Others were filled likewise. Animal house is an accurate description! We went to Shogun one night (Teppanyaki) and of course there was a college couple who were completely obnoxious and managed to ruin the evening. On Sunday evening, we retired to our room early because of the horrific attitudes, screaming, vulgarity etc. etc. in the hallways and bars. One evening in Le Bistro, there were continual kids running past the restaurant yelling and screaming. Kind of ruins the romantic atmosphere of this lovely restaurant.

 

Now, from NCL's perspective and what I have been told by Officers from the ship.

 

1. On Tuesday (Grand Caymen) they flew in two Miami Police Officers to help with the mess.

2. The damage done included; pulling one of the lovely, vintage-like house phones out of the wall, damage to artwork, damage to some of the asian artifacts, pulling star shaped deck number indicators off the walls. A fight in one of the staterooms resulted in blood all over, and a broken bed from jumping on it are some of the things I remember.

3. Two people were put off the ship in Honduras.

4. Charges were being filed for damage and some individuals but not all had been caught.

5. One special sign was posted near the pool that glass was not allowed in the pool or deck area. This was constantly ignored and crew was frequently telling people of the rule. The kids never seemed to catch on and this rule was continually being challenged throughout the cruise.

6. On Monday night, all staterooms received a letter from the Captain with a warning about behavior and damage. In addition, the Captain made several public announcements about behavior and damage throughout the cruise.

7. On Monday or Tuesday (can't remember which day), we were in our room and received an obscene phone call. Grow up kids! How old are you that you are still making prank phone calls. Little did they know, since we were in a Penthouse, we had caller ID. We simply called and reported it. Security confirmed through phone records, the individuals were caught and a warning was given to the three BOYS (I stress boys, not men).

 

Were we disappointed and shocked, absolutely! We never dreamt that it would be spring break for anyone. Did we think that NCL was handling it, yes. Did we let it ruin our time, no. I will be posting a full review this next week of this lovely ship and the wonderful service we experienced.

 

wbrumel - you saw the Captain on your flight as this was his last cruise before his vacation.

 

Watch for my full review later.

 

 

I bet he needed that vacation! I think I will send this to our grandaughter. I know she is a good gal and respects others as I hope her sorority sisters do, but Spring break and college kids have a way of spelling disaster. Hopefully if she sees something like this before she takes off for Florida she will be exceptionally careful and considerate. Thanks for the report. I look forward to your review. NMnita

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In response to your message...

 

I am a 20 year old UF student who had a wonderful cruise on the NCL Spirit. My friends and I enjoyed every moment of our cruise. We talked with many married couples and retired folks who didn't expect that the ship would be filled with college students. Most of them had good things to say and understood that it was a small, yet feisty, minority that gave the young people on the ship a bad name. It disturbs me that you did not realize this. For someone who attended UF I am surprised that you would discourage others to hold back donations to our school and also tell high schoolers that they should not apply to our wonderful institution. I promise you that the behavior of this select group of students who decided to spend their vacation carousing and acting inappropriately is not unique to our university--there are students like this at EVERY school. Moreover, the events that took place on this cruise are in no way correllated to the academic excellence and community service that UF students are known for. Maybe you should stop by your alma mater when school is in session and take a look around, I am sure you'd be very impressed with the make-up of our student body which has improved tremendously since you've been there.

 

Just to clarify...

 

There were probably about 600 UF students, at most 800. I heard it was 30%. Also, NCL required one person in the cabin be at least 21, however I am sure many people lied about the birthday.

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I am sorry for every person that had a bad experience on the Spirit last week because of some of the college students. My sister, who is a sophomore at UF, was on that sailing and was completely embarassed by the other people on the cruise. She caught a flu during the trip and the staff was so upset with the students that they thought she was drunk and didn't help her out. She's in bed with bronchitis now, but she wanted me to post this message (she knows I love these boards).

 

I am also a student and I have to say that the people causing the problems do not represent all of us. It is a case of a few people ruining the time for everyone else and giving our college a bad name. UF is a great school with a lot of great people, but we do have those out-of-control party people too. Our Spring break was very early this year and I can understand if people feel like they didn't have fair warning.

 

SANDPEBBLES: please don't be disappointed with UF, I am a graduate student and my research is funded by people's generous donations, I truly hope that we do not lose your support.

 

SAM8018: I am glad that you talked to people who understood the situation and I am glad that you had a great time. It sucks when people give UF a bad name, but I can back up what you said, we are a great community of people and and majority of us are excellent students.

 

Jenni

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It's kind of scary to think you can have that many out of control people on a place as confined as a cruise ship, and seemingly there was no way to regain control over this situation? I'm hoping if this is the beginning of Spring Break, ncl will come up with a way to deal with this. (are there bouncers on a cruise ship??!!)

I have always been a don't sweat the small stuff kind of person, but these situations have the potential to ruin my vacation. If you haven't already, please contact NCL and voice your concerns.

We are on the Spirit March 27....

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I am a 20 year old UF student who had a wonderful cruise on the NCL Spirit. My friends and I enjoyed every moment of our cruise.
It's obvious from this statement that loud and rowdy college students don't bother you. But why would they? You're a college student and that's what you're used to. But for others, that are far past their college days, it's not the type of atmosphere they particularly enjoy being around.
We talked with many married couples and retired folks who didn't expect that the ship would be filled with college students. Most of them had good things to say and understood that it was a small, yet feisty, minority that gave the young people on the ship a bad name. It disturbs me that you did not realize this.
So realizing it was only a small group should make it ok? From the comments posted here so far it seems that it was a much larger number of people than just a small group.
I promise you that the behavior of this select group of students who decided to spend their vacation carousing and acting inappropriately is not unique to our university--there are students like this at EVERY school.
Everyone does it so why single out UF? That's a terrible defense.
Moreover, the events that took place on this cruise are in no way correllated to the academic excellence and community service that UF students are known for.
If we don't base your opinions of a school by the overall way in which its students present themselves then what should we look at to base our decisions? Should the cruisers last week looked past the horrific behavior because on paper students get good grades and do some social work?
Maybe you should stop by your alma mater when school is in session and take a look around, I am sure you'd be very impressed with the make-up of our student body which has improved tremendously since you've been there.
I'm sure SandPebbles would disagree with you that your class is a big improvement over her class.

 

While I understand your desire to defend your school and the students, from what the members here have said, a large group of those students made the cruise terrible for others and that can't be changed.

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