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Lake Cheddar

Spirit "The Suite Life" 11/13/11

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This was our second sailing on the Spirit. Our first sailing was in a balcony. For this cruise we choose the aft suite “Gemini” on the 9th floor. The Spirit has its little quirks, but overall we thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Pre Cruise New Orleans--

We arrived in NOLA a day early, and stayed at La Quinta on Camp street. The hotel’s location was perfect for what we had in mind for our first day. We walked down to the Hilton and had an early diner at Dragos. Their charbroiled oysters are the best in town, and they didn’t disappoint this time. They go through over 500 dozens in a given day. Watching them being sucked and grilled is quite a show. After that heavenly meal we walked back to the hotel. After a little rest we went out in search of a bar that I had heard was close by. I learned that close by, was just across the street. The bar Ioa, is located inside the International House Hotel. In its candlelit room is mixologist Alan Walter. This is far from the Bourbon street scene. Alan conjures up drinks that are complex, with natural flavors and aromatics. Think boutique apple brandy, Italian vermouth and tender sprigs of aromatic tarragon. My wife doesn’t drink that much, but in conversation, she mentions that she likes chamomile tea. Alan brought out an intense chamomile extract that he had just brewed. My wife mixed it with some cream and it became her favorite drink.

 

Embarkation

La Quinta has a very nice breakfast that is included with your stay. NOLA was our least favorite embarkation experience. I was hoping that the new terminal would change that. Unfortunately it hadn’t. We left our hotel before 11am and arrived at the terminal by 11:30am. There is only a one lane road into the terminal. Every taxi has to drop its passengers and luggage off near the terminal. With passengers standing, luggage just sitting and a new taxi attempting to park, it was a disaster waiting to happen. Our porter finally was available. They do not just collect luggage. They have to check your id and your cruise docs. Of course a lot of people had those packed away and were searching for them.

Upon entering the new terminal, they had the typical maze of roped off queues leading to the security area. We followed the queue as directed. Almost right before our turn at security, three converging queues were opened up. That created a bottle neck at security. We were probably in the first group of 100 passengers. I hope this got fixed later on.

After the security checkpoint, we were directed to the ship check in lines. We informed them that we were suite passengers and were directed to a small seated waiting area for the next check in opening. Check in went very smooth and we were escorted to the suite lounge inside the terminal. There we met our concierge, John D'souza, along with our butler, Victor.

Both were temporarily assigned to these positions recently. At the end of the cruise, I wrote the Hotel Director, Prem, recommending that they be assigned permanently.

 

First Day

After waiting a short time, all of the suite guests were escorted onto the ship. Then we where escorted to lunch. This is where the little quirks of the Spirit started to show up. Instead of Cagney’s, we where escorted to Le Bistro. Le Bistro and Cagney’s are about the same size of the Spirit. The kitchen is closer to Le Bistro. Le Bistro is much brighter during the daytime. In fact, the window seats where not used, depending how the ship was facing the sun. That didn’t cause any problems. There was never more then 4 or 5 tables being used at one time. There are only 18 suite cabins on the Spirit. We both enjoyed our lunch at Le Bistro, and meeting fellow suite passengers. Two of our favorite items for lunch where the shrimp cocktail (no longer colossal) and the brownie with ice cream.

 

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After lunch, we went to our cabin. We were in cabin 9012, Gemini, which is an aft suite. Being in a 2-bedroom Haven on the Pearl, I was interested in comparing the two cabins. The dining area and seating area appears larger on the Spirit. There is nothing against one wall, except for the flat screen tv. This gives the appearance that it is larger. The bedroom area is about the same size. The closet and storage space was much smaller, but still very adequate for our needs. The sink, tub and shower areas are much smaller. Still very nice and a definite upgrade from a regular Spirit cabin where the toilet is at an angle. We met our cabin steward and our butler, Victor again. They both took very good care of us during our cruise. Our balcony had 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a table. We went to explore the ship a little. Couldn’t find anything that had really changed that much. We found out that in the MDR, lobster and red snapper were on the menu. When we returned to our cabin, our luggage had arrived and had been placed on our bed. We went to the muster drill and then returned to unpack. We sat on our balcony and watched sail away drinking the champagne that was in cabin. We called John for a reservation in 30 minutes for the MDR. John came through with a great table for 2 at the aft of the Windows dining room. The lobster and red snapper were great. During diner the chefs paraded around the room and were applauded by all. I felt that NCL had set the bar very high for the rest of the cruise. I found out later that I would not be disappointed.

Day 2 to continue

 

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Edited by Lake Cheddar

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DAY 2

The day started out like all the later days of the cruise. Breakfast in Le Bistro. I always had French Toast, 2 eggs and a die for Filet. I also had a standing order of papaya and lemons.

After eating that, I know I am on a cruise. This was the day we had the meet & greet at 10am in Henry’s Pub. It was a nice gathering of people we have been communicating with for a year. There were 10 staff members also attending from Prem, the Hotel Director on down. It was a great time. After the get together it was back to Le Bistro for lunch. I am getting to like this. No more sliders, no more crab cakes, though. We always had a shrimp cocktail, but after that I tried different things on a few days. The Ahi Tuna burger was awesome. The asparagus if you had them melt the cheese was awesome also. After lunch it was back to our cabin and a relaxing afternoon on our balcony. Monday night was special. My Green Bay Packers were on Monday Night football, battling those Vikings. What a game to watch in Henry’s Pub.

 

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DAY 3 COSTA MAYA

We have been to this port many times, and decided to try something new. We usually go to Magahual, pick a bar and eat something on the beach. This time we choose the all inclusive beach of Maya Chan. It was picture perfect. An amazing place of soft sandy beach , palm trees and grass thatched palapas. The staff were always offering us a new drink. There were numerous activities, or you could just lounge in the ocean, or sit in your palapas. There was also an awesome massage. Lunch was very good.

 

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DAY 4 BELIZE

Again we have been to Belize before, so we took the first priority tender and just stayed in port. We did managed to do most of our shopping here. It wasn’t planned, but it did turn out very nice for us.

DAY 5 ROATAN

We took a tour using Victor Boden last time, and again this time. We got off the ship late on purpose and went to French Harbor for an amazing lunch at Gia’s. The crab were very large and had a thick shell that we had to break open with a hammer. Shrimp, lobster and crab were all very good. Then we spent the rest of the day just touring back roads that we hadn’t seen previously. A great day, but I left my camera on the ship.

DAY 6 COZUMEL

We hadn’t been to Cozumel in a while and was looking forward to see the changes. The Spirit tendered at this port because 7 larger ships where in port. The tendering to Coz went smooth. Coming back was a long long wait. We did another beach day at an all inclusive of Nachi Cocom. What a great place. Hated to leave.

 

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Edited by Lake Cheddar

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Thank you for review and pictures. I will be on the Spirit for my 2nd time on January 15th. I can hardly wait. What part of Wisconsin are you from? Looks like the Wisconsin Badgers and the Oregon Ducks may play each other in the Rose Bowl. I am a big fan of both schools so this should be interesting.

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Hey Lake Cheddar

 

 

Thanks for the great report and pics, most informative. We leave next weekend departing 12/11 and also have a suite on the 10th floor. We will be driving in as we only live 4 hours away and planned on parking at the terminal (Erato).

 

 

My question for you is on embarkation day were private vehicles coming in the same way as the taxis? Our docs say we can board anytime after 11:00am and we planned on arriving around 11:30. How long were you stuck in the traffic jam?

 

TIA

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Destinite,

I can answer your question. Unless something has changed since April, private vehicles just drive into the parking garage, the porters take the luggage shortly after you enter. It is super easy.

 

Parking can be a little tight. Better to get to port earlier rather than later.

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I concur, John D'Souza was great.

 

 

 

Nice seeing you guys on board.

 

 

 

Stephen

 

 

 

 

.

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Onboard Ship

We ate in the MDR three nights. The first two times we made reservations through our concierge John D’souza. We received excellent tables and John stopped by to visit with us. There really wasn’t any reason to reserve tables in the MDR, but we did enjoy our visits with John. The last time in the MDR we arrived and the hostess recognized us and we got the same table. We enjoyed the food in the MDR and only had a small problem when my salad was delivered with the main dish. It didn’t ruin the meal. In conversation with John, I mentioned it.

It really wasn’t a big deal, but the restaurant manger called and wanted to discuss it will us. I just dropped it because I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble over such a small matter. I was careful after that to mention anything negative to John. Although I did mention later in the cruise the disaster of waiting over an hour for the returning tender in Cozumel. That issue was never explained to me. We were in a hurry on Monday night before the football game, so we ate at the Blue Lagoon. My wings, fries and burger where great. The other nights we had John make reservations in specialty restaurants. Again there really was no reason to do this, we could have just walked in at anytime. But we used this time to connect with John over shows and where to meet for various other activities. The first restaurant we went to was Le Bistro. Le Bistro is my favorite restaurant in the NCL line. I absolutely love the three appetizers. Escargot, no other cruise line compares. Mussels in cream, which I make into a soup. And scallops. Unfortunately scallops are no longer available. I tried a main entrée of steak, but the filet we get at breakfast was much better. The waiters are different in the evening in Le Bistro. The waiters that suite passengers get at breakfast and lunch, are at Cagney’s for diner. Le Bistro is still probably in my top 10 of any restaurant we have eaten at on any cruise ship, but just barely. We had two separate officers do some small things for us early in the cruise. As a thank you, we invited them to join us for diner. The night they both were available was the night we were to have diner with the Captain. It was an easy choice for us, as we had previously dined at the Captain’s table. The night spent with the officers was in Cagney’s. It was a delightful evening of conversation, even if the meal itself was lacking. My steak wasn’t very good. We did enjoy our everyday waiters though. Our third restaurant was Shogun. I am not an Asian food fan on a cruise ship. My wife really loved hers. I had edamane which I always enjoy, and sashimi of Ahi and Red Eye tuna. Both with wasabi and ginger. The meal was good, but again not a fan. The shows we attended were good. It was nice arriving about 10 minutes before the show and having our concierge John saving seats in the balcony for us. Hint, if the main floor is filling up, anyone can go to the balcony and wait until the show is about to start. John always released the extra seats at that time. They never were even half filled. The overall appearance of the ship was great, and the crew is very friendly. On the last morning we ate a leisurely breakfast in Le Bistro. We told John that we were in no hurry to get off the ship, so we hung out in Henry’s Pub until 10am, then John escorted us off the ship. Overall a great relaxing cruise.

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I saw your post of your November sailing on the Spirit. I understand you had an aft suite on Deck 9. My husband and I are interested in booking a penthouse suite on the Spirit and I was hoping you might be able to give me a bit more info. I couldn't tell by the photos you posted but what was the view off of your balcony? Did you look down onto a deck below or do the aft suites on Deck 9 just look out over the ocean?

 

Any other thoughts you might be able to give me on the forward or aft suites would be a huge help.

 

Thanks!!!!

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Did John happen to say where he would be assigned next? We had John as our butler on the Star. He was AWESOME! On that cruise he was our butler an Simone was our Concierge. It was our 1st suite (GV) and they totally spoiled our group. :D It isn't surprising that he has been promoted to Concierge. I'm hoping that he will be on the Jewell for our Alaska cruise this year.

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I saw your post of your November sailing on the Spirit. I understand you had an aft suite on Deck 9. My husband and I are interested in booking a penthouse suite on the Spirit and I was hoping you might be able to give me a bit more info. I couldn't tell by the photos you posted but what was the view off of your balcony? Did you look down onto a deck below or do the aft suites on Deck 9 just look out over the ocean?

 

Any other thoughts you might be able to give me on the forward or aft suites would be a huge help.

 

Thanks!!!!

 

I loved the location of the aft suites on the Spirit, in relation to everything else. Just a short walk to stairs or elevators that that you down to the shows or dinner, or up to the terrace overlooking the childrens area.

 

The view was all ocean, nothing in the way.

 

The fowrad suites have a wind problem when under sail.

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Did John happen to say where he would be assigned next? We had John as our butler on the Star. He was AWESOME! On that cruise he was our butler an Simone was our Concierge. It was our 1st suite (GV) and they totally spoiled our group. :D It isn't surprising that he has been promoted to Concierge. I'm hoping that he will be on the Jewell for our Alaska cruise this year.

 

John said his next assignment was a butler, as the Concierge was only temporay.

 

I wish him well in finding someone, before he heads back to India.

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I loved the location of the aft suites on the Spirit, in relation to everything else. Just a short walk to stairs or elevators that that you down to the shows or dinner, or up to the terrace overlooking the childrens area.

 

The view was all ocean, nothing in the way.

 

The fowrad suites have a wind problem when under sail.

 

We had a forward two balcony suite a couple of weeks ago. Even with a 35 knot wind, neither balcony was a problem. We sat on both all week and only changed for the sun. The forward balcony is very well protected from the wind. We liked it enough to book a couple more.

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thank you for taking the time to post a great review. The pictures are beautiful.

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We had a forward two balcony suite a couple of weeks ago. Even with a 35 knot wind, neither balcony was a problem. We sat on both all week and only changed for the sun. The forward balcony is very well protected from the wind. We liked it enough to book a couple more.

 

That is good to know. We now have another option on the Spirit:D

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Thanks for the review. And the pics! This is our first suite on the Spirit and am happy that the pics match pretty much what I've imagined!

 

Also really happy to see the pics and read the feedback of Nachi. We too will be going there and it's the only "resort" type excursion we booked, so glad to hear we chose well!

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Thanks for the review. And the pics! This is our first suite on the Spirit and am happy that the pics match pretty much what I've imagined!

 

Also really happy to see the pics and read the feedback of Nachi. We too will be going there and it's the only "resort" type excursion we booked, so glad to hear we chose well!

 

Mardi Gras and a cruise:D

Have a wonderful time.

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