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Cubechick

Spirit Western Caribbean/Pre-Mardi Gras Cruise! 2-12-12 With Pics!

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The planning for this cruise began back in 2010. Our Personal Cruise Consultant, at the time, called on a Friday night, wanting to know if there were any cruises we were interested in that he could help us with. That was weird, because he’d never called out of the blue before (found out later that he was quitting and looking for last minute bookings!). But it did get DH and I talking, and by the end of the weekend we’d scoped out this cruise on the Norwegian Spirit. We had never sailed this itinerary before, and as the Spirit sails out of New Orleans, how could we resist tying Mardi Gras into the whole thing? It also turned out that Valentine’s Day was during the cruise, something that we didn’t realize until I signed up for our roll call! Duh!

 

The price for the cruise was surprisingly reasonable allowing us to book an aft-facing penthouse suite. I’d always wanted to book one of the Spirit’s PH’s as they were always in high demand being that there are only three of them. When the Spirit was making the Boston to Bermuda run, the PH’s were priced at least $1200 more than we paid on this cruise. How could we resist booking at what felt like a bargain price?

 

We flew in the day before the cruise, always preferable if you can manage it. One person we cruised with had her flight out of Baltimore cancelled and she ended up arriving in New Orleans several hours later than she planned. Terribly stressful, but the delay would have caused her to miss the ship if she’d be flying the day we sailed, which would have been worse! We booked the Drury Inn after reading several favorable reviews. Not too far from the French Quarter and not too far from the port, it is a great location pre-cruise and relatively affordable. My AAA rate was $140 and this hotel offers free wi-fi, breakfast, sodas, popcorn and hot snacks and cocktails in the evening.

 

I’m going to skip over the New Orleans part of our stay (other than to say that our first day was great!), as that isn’t part of the cruise. If you’re interested in New Orleans and Mardi Gras, I have posted some entries in my blog, the link to which can be found in my signature.

 

Our first morning in NOLA was a ridiculously cold 28 degrees minus however many degrees for a screaming wind chill. Ugh. All hopes for shorts during sailaway were quickly dashed and we threw on jeans and sweaters. A quick peek on the Internet showed the Spirit at the pier, staring at the behind of the Carnival Conquest. Yay! Now all we had to do was hurry up and wait.

 

The complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel was more than satisfactory. The offerings including scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy, oatmeal, cereals, fruits, breads, muffins and a make-your-own-waffle station. We ate a leisurely meal, just killing time.

 

Finally we dragged the luggage to the front desk and arranged for a cab. Two phone calls and thirty minutes later an SUV showed up large enough for the four of us and our ten bags. The timing worked out well. We were at the Julia Street Terminal within ten minutes, and through security five minutes after that. Here things got a little discombobulated. As I mentioned, we had booked a suite, but our tickets were never looked at and we were never directed to the suite check in. Our friends were in a balcony though, so I didn’t say anything (and the line for check in was very short). It has been our experience that if we’ve checked in at the “normal” counter, once they realize that they don’t have our key cards, we’re escorted to the VIP area. This time we were handed two keycards and wished a lovely cruise. Hmmm…

 

We were directed to the seating area and I immediately homed in on the VIP area. I lead my little group to that room and met our concierge, Belkys, for the first time. She too was confused as to how we were issued cards when she had our cards (the concierge always has the suite cards in an envelope with a welcome aboard letter). She left us for a few minutes to get this straightened out and I took in our surroundings. New Orleans has a nice VIP lounge with comfy chairs and a nice assortment of pastries and sandwiches (a first!) to enjoy while you wait. On our last two cruises, the VIP area was just a roped off section of the main waiting area with different colored plastic chairs. This was much nicer.

 

Belkys returned, saying everything was taken care of. I made our dinner reservations for Cagney’s that night and Le Bistro for Valentine's Day (we'd read that they'd have a special menu) and settled in to enjoy a snack and meet some of our fellow passengers. We were allowed to board shortly after noon and we made a beeline for our suite to drop off our carry-on bags. I loved our little suite! Unlike the aft PH’s on the Jewel class ships, the Spirit’s PH had a living room and dining room separate from the bedroom.

 

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The master bath was even better than we’d had in our Haven Villa on the Epic as the over-sized tub is a Jacuzzi. Awesome!

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Being in a suite also meant we had a refrigerator (cabins below suite level don’t have them on the Spirit). I was definitely looking forward to my week here!

 

 

 

Everything tucked away, we went to Windows for lunch (as our friends weren’t in a suite they weren’t afforded the perk of Cagney’s for lunch). I actually enjoy the lunch menu in the main dining rooms. There is a lot of variety. The only odd thing was no bread was brought out but there were bread dishes and butter knives in each place setting. I don’t know if this was an anomaly on embarkation day or if they no longer serve bread at lunch (this was the only time we ate there). After lunch, we wandered around the ship, becoming reacquainted with her (the last time we sailed the Spirit was 2009). Back to our cabin for our pre-boat drill champagne (a tradition on all of our cruises), we found our luggage waiting, and we happily unpacked while sipping our bubbly.

 

The Spirit still conducts her boat drills outside (the only time I’ve seen this since 2008). I wouldn’t have minded except it was cold outside! At least DH and I threw on our jackets. Some of our drill companions were in t-shirts, complaining that they didn’t know the drill would be outside. At least the process was mercifully short, as we don’t have to bring life jackets any more.

 

We watched sail away from Raffles Terrace. As this is in the aft of the ship, it is sheltered from the wind and wasn’t a bad place to be.

 

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(From our balcony)

 

I wished we were sailing later in the year, so we could have watched more of our transit down the Mississippi River. The other side of that coin is that our cruise would have been much hotter and muggier if we were sailing later in the year. As we had awesome weather at all of our ports, the earlier sunsets were a small sacrifice.

 

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Dinner at Cagney’s was okay. Not great, just okay. Service was slower than we would have liked (although our waiter was very nice) and food quality just wasn’t there for the most part. I felt after our last cruise that Cagney’s has declined in quality and this experience just confirmed that for me. I will probably skip Cagney’s for a bit until the quality comes back. It’s been my experience that Cagney’s seems to go through these adjustment periods. I’m sure NCL will make improvements there at some point. Oh, on a pleasant note, to drum up business in the specialty restaurants, if you dined in one this first night, you received a free bottle of wine per couple. Just a choice between the house merlot or chardonnay, but hey, free wine!

 

An after dinner drink at Raffles Terrace and it was back to our room. The Jacuzzi was utilized and we just relaxed. In fact, I’d better say it now. We didn’t catch one show the entire week. The beauty of cruising several times means that you don’t feel like you must see or try to do everything.

 

Tomorrow - Sea Day!

Edited by Cubechick

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Yay. I love your reviews and this one is going to be even better because we were on the same cruise.:D

 

Thanks Cubechick, can't wait to read the rest!

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Was waiting for you guys to return!

 

Can't wait for the rest of the review/pictures!!

 

Sooooooo sad we missed it:(:(

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The only odd thing was no bread was brought out but there were bread dishes and butter knives in each place setting. I don’t know if this was an anomaly on embarkation day or if they no longer serve bread at lunch (this was the only time we ate there).

 

 

We were just on the Dawn and noticed the same thing for our one lunch in the main dining room.

 

We've had the pleasure of having Belkys as concierge a couple of times. She's great but no match for her predecessor Bruce van der Boon (the Energizer Bunny).

 

Looking forward to reading the rest of your review!

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Please be sure to tell us the cabin number... we are in an aft PH on the Spirit in November.

 

Spirit Libra Suite - 9710: Spirit Libra Suite - 9710

Edited by LadyShiva

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Please be sure to tell us the cabin number... we are in an aft PH on the Spirit in November.

 

We were in the Libra Suite, 9710...right next to Capp. ;)

 

We were just on the Dawn and noticed the same thing for our one lunch in the main dining room.

 

We've had the pleasure of having Belkys as concierge a couple of times. She's great but no match for her predecessor Bruce van der Boon (the Energizer Bunny).

 

Looking forward to reading the rest of your review!

 

Bruce was great! We sailed with him in 2009 when he was Group Services Coordinator! Never had the pleasure of sailing with him as Concierge. So far, I think Belkys edges to the front for us!

 

Yay. I love your reviews and this one is going to be even better because we were on the same cruise.:D

 

Thanks Cubechick, can't wait to read the rest!

 

Thanks, Capp! Looking forward to seeing you again next year! :D

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Was waiting for you guys to return!

 

Can't wait for the rest of the review/pictures!!

 

Sooooooo sad we missed it:(:(

 

Damara, you were missed, but you did cancel for a very good reason! :)

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Whoa! That's a part of the Spirit I certainly missed on my three sailings with her! I thought I had managed to sneak into every place:cool:.

 

Can't wait for more!

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Lady

 

 

LadyShiva, I was on The Spirit the week of January 15th. I love your pictures. Is ther any way that I could get a copy of picture 16-Meet and Greet? Mandy Church-mandychurch_65@yahoo.com

 

Those pictures are cubechick's, not mine! The whole album is owned by "cubechick"

 

I agree, her pictures are wonderful, and show places I never saw (like the non-smoking section of the casino... Where was THAT???)

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We were in the Libra Suite, 9710...right next to Capp. ;)

 

 

 

Bruce was great! We sailed with him in 2009 when he was Group Services Coordinator! Never had the pleasure of sailing with him as Concierge. So far, I think Belkys edges to the front for us!

 

 

 

Thanks, Capp! Looking forward to seeing you again next year! :D

 

Breaking away is going to be fun, we look forward to it too.:cool:

 

I agree, Belkys is right up there, she was terrific! I still can't figure out how she runs around the ship in those heels!!!

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Those pictures are cubechick's, not mine! The whole album is owned by "cubechick"

 

I agree, her pictures are wonderful, and show places I never saw (like the non-smoking section of the casino... Where was THAT???)

 

The non smoking casino is directly above the main casino. The entrance is a set of stairs across from Le Bistro.:)

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The non smoking casino is directly above the main casino. The entrance is a set of stairs across from Le Bistro.:)

 

Yup. It used to be the Art Gallery (which I didn't find until our second cruise on the ship!).

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Cubechick, is there a way I could get a copy of the Meet and Greet picture. The Restaurant Manager Kaya Aydin from Turkey was just very sweet on my cruise in January. Thanks. Mandy

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Cubechick, is there a way I could get a copy of the Meet and Greet picture. The Restaurant Manager Kaya Aydin from Turkey was just very sweet on my cruise in January. Thanks. Mandy

 

Just sent it to you. You should have it at any time. If not let me know and I'll try again!

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Sea Day!

 

After a blissful night’s sleep on my wonderful bed, I woke to the sounds of DH making cappuccino with the Lavazza machine. What a great sound! The outside temperature had warmed up, but was still only about 61 degrees. Not quite beach weather yet, but a far cry from yesterday!

 

Had to have Cagney’s for breakfast (traditional Eggs Benedict for both of us) followed by a nice thirty-minute walk around the promenade deck. I love the Spirit’s promenade as the deck is made of teak and is nice and wide. It also has a slight incline as you reach the aft…it’s the only “hill” I’ve ever seen on a promenade deck!

 

We had to keep moving as the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet was scheduled for 10:00 at Henry’s Pub. A large group from the roll call was expected and did not disappoint. I would estimate 40 people or so showed up to meet each other and the officers who attended. I had noticed in the Freestyle Daily that the Captain and Hotel Director (Prem) were scheduled for a “cooking” demonstration at 10:15, so I was a little curious as to who would show up. Well both Prem and the Cruise Director Jill (also scheduled for the demo) were there, along with the Food and Beverage Manager, the Bar Manager, the head of housekeeping, etc. The officers at Norwegian are always very good about showing their appreciation to the Cruise Critic members who attend and making sure that everyone knows who to go to with and questions or issues.

 

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Prem gave a nice little speech, introduced everyone, and apologized for having to skedaddle. We spent some time chatting with some of the people we’d “met” online, then headed to Galaxy of the Stars to check out this cooking thing. Well, it wasn’t cooking but cake decorating and it was hilarious. Jill was very intent, trying to cut her cake into three precise layers and decorating it per the instructions that were being given (there was a pastry chef there demonstrating the technique). Captain Lars (Love him! We sailed with him in 2009 on the Pearl and he is just great!) appeared to be focused on how much rum he could pour onto the layers of his cake (not in the recipe!).

 

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Prem seemed to be focused on making his cake look nothing like anyone else’s and sneaking blobs of frosting onto an unsuspecting Jill. He was also looking for a victim to throw his cake at…er to. Prem focused on DH as we’ve sailed together several times, but for some reason, DH didn’t want to wear green frosted cake, LOL. Prem did find a willing soul in the end!

 

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Afterward, we walked around the pool deck. I know it wasn’t full Caribbean weather yet, but we were really surprised at the lack of people around the pool! Not a chair hog in sight! There was more beer than people!

 

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I get maybe not wanting to be out in a bathing suit, but it felt wonderful to sit in the sun! Where was everyone???

 

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Maybe having lunch? We headed to Cagney’s ready to have my yummy asparagus salad. They were hosting the Jazz Brunch here and we had to order off of that menu instead.

 

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I have to say while I enjoyed the change from the standard menu, the menu is heavier than I would like. Sure you could order breakfast fare (to be honest breakfast once a day is enough for me) but the entrees were things like Chateaubriand and the “Le Bistro Signature” which was beef tenderloin with shrimp, roasted potatoes and broccoli. I settled on the asparagus soup (I guess I’d have my asparagus one way or another!) and the Caesar salad with shrimp. I hate to say it, but while the food was good, the service awful. It took over ten minutes for our order to be taken, our water glasses were never refilled and dirty plates not cleared from the table. It was one of the worst services we’ve ever encountered. Two parties in the restaurant were demanding a lot of attention, so perhaps this was part of the problem (although on one of those tables the pile up of dirty plates was also in evidence).

 

We walked around a bit after lunch, stopping at the buffet for our tiny soft serve ice cream cones (love to be able to have couple of bites of something sweet!). Eventually made our way back to our room for a bit of a nap.

 

Tonight was the VIP cocktail party. For once I decided not to make dinner reservations around this and would play it by ear. I have to say the cocktail party was a disappointment. Not because of NCL! The officers were all in attendance. It was lovely to see Captain Lars again and joke with Prem. But the guest count was very low. Only thirteen of us showed up. I realize the Spirit has fewer suites than the Jewel class ships, but I know there were a lot more people than that on board. We did have a great time talking with Cruise Critic friends and the Cruise Consultant Candace, but many of the senior officers left early (and I can’t blame them!).

 

After the party we went to Shogun to see if we could get in. No problem! We were seated immediately. The Asian Fusion restaurants are tied in my mind with Le Bistro for consistently good food. In both restaurants I’ve always had a good meal and generally a good time. I had my “usual”, the hot and sour soup, crab wontons, and sweet and sour pork. Yum.

 

Back on our balcony, the temperature had risen to the 70’s! Yay! That was a promising trend for the next day!

 

Tomorrow Cozumel and Nachi Cocum!

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Just sent it to you. You should have it at any time. If not let me know and I'll try again!

I have not gotten the picture yet. mandychurch_65@yahoo.com

When you were on The Pearl with Captain Lars, did you get a chance to meet his wife? They were married 33 years ago January 2nd. On Facebook the other day, NCL had an article about Lars and his family as their monthly personality profile. Lars and his wife have three sons all of whom are employed by NCL. It was a nice article and a nice picture.

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I have not gotten the picture yet. mandychurch_65@yahoo.com

When you were on The Pearl with Captain Lars, did you get a chance to meet his wife? They were married 33 years ago January 2nd. On Facebook the other day, NCL had an article about Lars and his family as their monthly personality profile. Lars and his wife have three sons all of whom are employed by NCL. It was a nice article and a nice picture.

 

Sent it again (had the email slightly wrong).

 

We did not get to meet his wife. She was not on our sailing. Did have lovely conversations with him. Love his dry wit. I did see the Facebook article and thought it just great!

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Cozumel and Valentine’s Day

 

When we booked this cruise, Cozumel was supposed to be our last stop and Costa Maya our first. A couple of months ago we received notification from NCL that they’d switched these two stops making Cozumel the first stop. The reason? The Spirit was originally scheduled to be in Cozumel with something like eight other ships. By switching the days, we were now docking with two other ships and around 12,000 less people. Makes sense to me!

 

Through the powers of the roll call we heard about Nachi Cocum. It is an all-inclusive resort that you need to book in advance (especially if you’re in Coz on one of those 9 cruise ship days!). $50 per person gets you all the food and drink you want and a slice of private beach. They only issue one hundred passes per day, so it’s a fairly exclusive experience. About 40 of us from the roll call signed up and took over a large section of the beach.

 

As we’d booked this on our own, we didn’t rush off of the ship when we docked. We agreed to meet in our stateroom around 9:30 with the aim of getting to Nachi around 10:00.

 

It was about a fifteen-minute walk from the ship to the area where the taxis congregate. The taxi fares are regulated and posted, so we knew that our ride to Nachi would be $16 for the four of us. Not bad! Our driver was very friendly and chatted away making the drive pass quickly (only fifteen or twenty minutes). We arrived at Nachi and they immediately made us stop to pose for a souvenir picture (something we successfully avoided on the ship!). After we’d paid for our admission, we were lead to the beach and our four loungers placed under a thatched umbrella.

 

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The beach is very clean and the water was clear, although a bit chilly for me! Around 73 degrees. That’s okay, the rest of my group enjoys swimming more than I do and DH did a little snorkeling (you could rent equipment from the resort or do like DH and bring your own).

 

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I just enjoyed relaxing in the sun (dark clouds threatened at one point but brought no rain) reading my book. I glanced around and everyone (myself included) was using e-readers. I realized that takes the fun out of seeing what everyone else it reading and getting ideas for yourself!

 

DH checked out the beach, making friends with the local fauna as he dried off:

 

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Anyway, our waiter brought over the food menus stating that we could either order up at the main building and eat there, or he’d be happy to bring our meals to us. I really liked that! It was nice not having to go to a buffet at a set time.

 

We had chips and salsa (I love the homemade tortilla chips you find in Mexico!) enchiladas and quesadillas. They also had “American” choices on the menu if you preferred and some more “exotic” choice like ceviche.

 

After four hours of beaching it we decided to head back to the ship (as did most of our Cruise Critic group). Back at the pier, we walked around a little, did a little shopping, and then got back on board.

 

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My only “regret” (and I use the word loosely) is that by going to the resort we didn’t see any of Cozumel. At Nachi we chatted with a young woman and her mother who were in the area for two weeks and had been all over the area. Oh well, there’s always next time!

 

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Later in the day, our neighbor, Capp, had invited a group of us over to her Owner’s Suite for a Valentine’s sailaway. I’m the only one in our little group who made it (everyone was experiencing post-sun comas I think), but I had a lovely time! Capp was passing out “love beads” (necklaces with pink beads and red hearts…kind of an homage to Mardi Gras!) and silk roses that blinked! It was great to chat with everyone and check out the Owner’s Suite. The Owner’s Suite was very nice, but not that much bigger than my cabin (really the main difference was a dining area separate from the living area and a powder room off of that). I had to excuse myself early as we had reservations for the Valentine’s Day dinner at Le Bistro and I needed to spruce myself up.

 

A couple of observations about the dinner. Many people I spoke with had avoided booking this like the plague thinking the restaurant would be over-crowded and that the waiters would be breaking out into their traditional anniversary song, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, every five seconds. Neither concerns turned out to be true. The restaurant was well attended but not full and not one song was sung while we were there. The cost for the meal was $49 per person; you had to order off of a set menu and received one glass of sparkling wine and two glasses of wine for the price.

 

The food was all very good, but I have to admit if I’d seen the menu in advance I would have probably passed. With the exception of a couple of items, everything on the menu was already on the Le Bistro and Cagney’s menus. The Cocquille St Jacques and salad with grilled duck appetizers were on the Le Bistro menu. The lobster soup just a slight tweak on Cagney’s lobster bisque. Filet mignon could be found on either. One unique entrée was the sea bass, which DH said was some of the best fish he’d ever eaten, although the portion was tiny. The three glasses of wine really didn’t justify the up-charge. Now the next night they had the Chef’s Tasting Dinner (which we skipped) and on that for $75 pp you received nine courses, all specialty items, with wine at each course. I think Le Bistro would have been fully booked if they’d taking that specialty approach with the menu.

 

We did enjoy the meal and our waitress slipped us an extra glass of wine to go with dessert, which was very nice of her!

 

Tomorrow, cave tubing in Belize!

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Thanks so much for posting your review and pics. So glad to find out about the non smoking section of the casino. Looking forward to reading more, and cruising on The Spirit very soon.....

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Belize

 

 

Belize was our least favorite stop. Not that we didn't have a good time, but there was no "wow" factor here. The area is rather swampy and depressed.

 

We booked a cave-tubing excursion via the ship and although it was fine, the timing seemed to be "off" for our group. Not the fault of the tour operators, but it affected our experience.

 

The day began with us meeting at the Stardust Theater at 9:45 as instructed. Our tour was called first and we were the first to follow the shore ex person to the tender. There was a wait while the tender filled, a 20-minute ride to the port, then another wait once we arrived at the pier. We boarded the bus, and yes, we waited.

The ride out to the river is about 75 minutes. But several of those minutes are over some of the most rutted roads I've ever seen, which slowed our progress considerably. Not to mention being very uncomfortable as we were in an old school bus with the suspension being a thing of the past (not that school buses are known for their suspension!). When we arrived at our destination, we were informed that we'd be eating lunch first (adequate...chicken wings, beans and rice, plantains, hamburgers). So we were over 2 1/2 hours into the excursion before we actually did anything.

 

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Our busload was divided into small groups of eight, and we picked out our tubes, helmets, and life jackets before beginning the walk to where we would finally start tubing. It is about a 30-minute walk and fairly easy going (excepting the three river crossings which are a little tricky due to the current).

 

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The guide stopped and pointed out several vegetative items of interest. Unlike our trip to Hawaii last year, where most of the plants and bugs don't have natural enemies, and everything seems to live in harmony, Belize was the land of "It's poisonous", "It bites", "It's like being bitten by 500 hundred fire ants all out once", "Oh, we have a number of those snakes...highly venomous", "That tree sap? It makes you feel like your skin is boiling and peeling off". Seriously. This was the tour of don't touch a freakin' thing.:-) On a good note, the weather was fantastic and none of the bugs we heard about were out biting!

 

At last, we arrived at the river and got onto our tubes. We had to form a human chain, linking your feet under the armpits of the person in front of you. Not anyone's favorite, but effective at keeping us all together.

 

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Floating through the cave was neat. Extremely high ceilings, so no claustrophobia, and just interesting. Rock that sparkled when light was shown on it, formations that took on human and animal form, areas where the cave ceiling had collapsed letting in plant life and vegetation. Truly beautiful.

 

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After we exited the caves, the guide let us free float down the river. I didn't see another guide do that, and before we reached the base of the river, he had us link up again, stating that the wind would make free floating difficult. I didn't notice any wind to speak of which leads me to believe that he wasn't supposed to let us go like that. I'm glad he did though...even though I was steering challenged and kept bouncing off of things I was trying to avoid. :-)

 

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Back at the parking area, there were changing rooms and shops to check out. As usual, we had to wait the longest, as we were the first back to the bus. And we also had "those people" on the bus. You know them. They see that a busload of people are waiting, but they take their own sweet time, wiping off their feet, putting on sandals, chit-chatting, and generally just moving as slow as molasses. I swear we are always on tours with "those people". Finally, they boarded the bus and we were able to leave. Hallelujah!

 

Arrived at the pier about 45 minutes before the last tender and paused to have a local beer (Belikin) before leaving Belize behind us. I did enjoy the cave tubing, but wished so much time hadn't been spent standing around. I have a feeling if we'd booked this independently the tour would have gone smoother because less people would have been involved.

 

We were beat by the time we returned to the ship and cleaned up, so it was the buffet for dinner. No pizza at the buffet! I guess NCL wants you to spend the $5 on pizza delivery. I was really disappointed as all I wanted was a couple of slices of pie and a salad for dinner. I don't think you should be forced to order an entire pizza when you only want a slice or two (I did notice pizza at the buffet for lunch one day, but it wasn't available at snack time). That disappointment aside, the food was good. There is always a nice variety and some really good Indian dishes available.

 

Tomorrow, Roatan (our favorite stop)!

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Loving your pics! Just want to say that I have done cave tubing twice (through Reggie, aka "the REAL Reggie"). No meal, no waits as we take a minivan to the site. But last time- I saw a tarantula as big as a salad plate walking around on the stacked tubes. "ah yes, TA-ran-toola" says Reggie:eek:. So I hear you on the natural elements! :eek:

Edited by Seago2

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Cubechick,

I had so much fun on the Spirit in January that I am going BACK on the 18th of March. Will have a different Captain but he is also an old friend. I met him a little over a year on The Gem and he was Staff Captain then.

Have you thought about submitting your pictures to Porthole magazine?

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Loving your pics! Just want to say that I have done cave tubing twice (through Reggie, aka "the REAL Reggie"). No meal, no waits as we take a minivan to the site. But last time- I saw a tarantula as big as a salad plate walking around on the stacked tubes. "ah yes, TA-ran-toola" says Reggie:eek:. So I hear you on the natural elements! :eek:

 

I laughed out loud when I read this. :D

 

Cubechick,

I had so much fun on the Spirit in January that I am going BACK on the 18th of March. Will have a different Captain but he is also an old friend. I met him a little over a year on The Gem and he was Staff Captain then.

Have you thought about submitting your pictures to Porthole magazine?

 

I haven't heard of Porthole. Thanks for thinking some of my pics are good enough!

 

Thank you for taking the time to post this. I am really enjoying your vacation. :)

 

Thank you for the kind remarks. :)

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Roatan! We loved Roatan!

 

We had to tender at this port (Captain Lars says the ships that call here rotate and it was our week to tender) and although they just used the ship's lifeboats for this, it was only a five-minute ride to the pier, which wasn't bad.

 

For this island we had booked with a private tour operator, Rony and had chosen his West End Kayak and Snorkel excursion. His is the same company used by the ship, but by booking with him directly we saved $10 pp and were in a group of ten people instead of the 27 that would arrive from the ship later in the day! Rony met us as promised outside of gate number seven. The trick though, since gate number seven has no signage facing the pier, is to keep walking past the buildings, past the shops until you arrive at the street. That is gate number seven. We were off of the ship before anyone as Belkys got us onto the first tender, and had to wait for two more people to arrive. As soon as I saw them I recognized them as from our roll call. Darn it! If I'd remembered they were on our excursion I could have taken them off of the ship with us. No matter. They snuck onto a tender loaded with people taking a ship's excursion and weren't far behind us.

 

Rony speaks excellent, American accented English, although he insists he's spent minimal time in the US (he did spend four years working for Celebrity though). He told us a great deal about his island as he drove us to the West End.

 

We arrived at the Cannibal Cafe (owned by Rony's mom) which would be our base of operations for the day.

 

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Our first activity was snorkeling and we were assigned to Quentin (who worked for NCL for seven years) and the four people he'd picked up from another ship. They provided snorkel gear (including vests) for anyone who needed it. They also had lockers for you to put your gear in and had someone on the beach to watch small items (like glasses) while you snorkeled. They took safety seriously, having one person in the water with us in addition to Quentin and a third guy in a kayak who could take anyone back to shore if needed (or just give a swimmer a rest). As you didn't take a boat out to a snorkel site, I could see that this precaution was necessary (and one of our group did need to hang on the to kayak toward the end of the snorkel). It was necessary because you did a lot of swimming. I mean a lot of swimming as Quentin hollered, "Vamanos!" and lead you from one spot to the next. I'm used to snorkel excursions being on boats that take you to a spot and you pretty much float around for an hour or so. This was a full hour of swimming, so be forewarned that you need to be a decent swimmer if you take this excursion (one of our group did stay on shore as he wasn't the best of swimmers). I'm afraid that snorkeling in Hawaii spoiled me for snorkeling elsewhere as that was just so beautiful with it's vibrant colors and tremendous amount of marine life. But this was pretty good with many reefs for fish to congregate around. The highlight was two turtles that we saw.

 

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Our guide touching one of the turtles...in Hawaii, if you saw a turtle you weren't allow closer than ten feet!

 

Back across the street at the Cannibal Cafe it was lunchtime...although it was only 10:30 in the morning! Actually I know I was pretty hungry after all of that swimming and judging from the silence as everyone chowed down, others felt the same. Today, lunch was a huge platter of fresh fruit and, like Nachi, chips and salsa and quesadillas, but OMG were they delicious! The salsa was fresh and fruity, the chips fried to a turn, and the quesadillas loaded with fresh peppers and onions and melty cheese that stretched for a mile when you took a wedge from the platter. YUM! I'm salivating just thinking about it!

 

After lunch we grabbed our paddles and life preservers and walked across the street again to the waiting kayaks. The kayaking was shorter than I expected. We shot along the edge of West End Bay for maybe ten minutes and parked at a beach where we would spend forty-five minutes hanging out, drinking beer (Salva Vida!) and fantasizing about buying a party boat that we noticed was for sale. (Quentin was all ready to go into business with us, LOL.) If you wanted to continue to kayak around the bay you could, and some of our group chose to do so. The weather was perfect this day without a cloud in the sky. As I sat on a dock, soaking in the rays, I had to stop and actively think about it to remember that it was February! Although we're having a mild winter back home, it was sure nothing like this!

 

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Rony was waiting for us at the Cannibal Cafe and those of us on the Spirit agreed that we wanted to walk around for thirty minutes or show and do a little shopping (thankfully no one in our group were big shoppers).

 

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On the way back to the ship, Rony took us to a scenic overlook where we could see three ships at Coxen Hole where we tendered to. There were of course vendors at the top of the hill, but what amused me was that while we were there, a guy pulled up on a moped to deliver Chinese food! I wish I'd had my camera out for that one!

 

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We were back at the ship by one, shopped a little at the many shops at the pier and decided to stop for another Salva Vida before we got back on board. It was just too nice a day to rush back to the ship and we were really enjoying our visit in Roatan. It was just an excellent stop and for the most part a very pretty island.

 

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Taking advantage of our access to the concierge, we made reservations for the Garden main dining room that night. I had no idea whether it was necessary or not, but we all felt that since we could make reservations, why not?

 

We arrived as two giant parties were trying to be seated. On party of nine was trying to just walk up and were being told that there would be at least a thirty minute wait. The other party of eight had reservations, but was stuck behind the other people. Belkys was at the podium and spotted us immediately. She whisked us past everyone and to our table. Sometimes the suite perks are really nice. :-)

 

During our last cruise aboard the Star we ate in the MDR several times and found the quality of food to be very good. The Spirit did not disappoint. I like the method that NCL has settled upon with one side of the menu being a static menu and the other side offering daily specials. I do think they succeeded in accomplishing their goal of improving food quality in the MDR.

 

Tomorrow Costa Maya!

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Spirit Libra Suite - 9710: Spirit Libra Suite - 9710

 

Nice pics, thanks for sharing. Especially liked the ones of the chocolate buffet!:D

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Loving your pics! Just want to say that I have done cave tubing twice (through Reggie, aka "the REAL Reggie"). No meal, no waits as we take a minivan to the site. But last time- I saw a tarantula as big as a salad plate walking around on the stacked tubes. "ah yes, TA-ran-toola" says Reggie:eek:. So I hear you on the natural elements! :eek:

 

OMG really? A tarantula? :eek: Now I know I will never go to Belize! I'm arachnaphobic!

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Hi Cubechick,

 

Enjoying another one of your wonderful pictorial reviews. You do such a great job!

 

Just to add to the Belizean stories, I took the ship's tour to Lamanai Ruins which requires an hr ride (in one of those comfy buses:rolleyes:) and then a little over an hr on the river to the ruins. At the ruins, an army of fire ants attacked our ankles while we were under one of the trees in the jungle (with howler monkeys overhead). Boy they were really nasty - red, itchy eventually but initially hurt! And I had applied bug stuff.:eek:

 

You brought a smile to my face hearing about Captain Lars. What a great gentleman with such a sense of humor. The cruise on the Pearl through the Panama Canal last Apr. was extra special with him at the helm. Plus his wife was onboard so he had something to comment on after giving us the weather & safety announcements.:)

 

How cold was that water when you went cave tubing? Not sure about that free float stuff. I think I'll stick with snorkeling (and seeing a turtle is getting to be more and more of a treat).:D

 

What's your next adventure?

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OMG really? A tarantula? :eek: Now I know I will never go to Belize! I'm arachnaphobic!

 

It's exactly as cubechick says- the walk up river the guides tell you all about the wonderful berries you can eat, then take a bite of one, then say, "here- try it! But it's very bitter, and looks just like the terribly poisonous ones. Try it!"

 

On and on it goes, bugs, snakes, floods, bats, spiders. But you don't think about these things when you're floating- you're just trying not to bang into rocks or link your feet into some guy's armpit;).

 

Butts up!

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Hi Cubechick' date='

 

Enjoying another one of your wonderful pictorial reviews. You do such a great job!

 

Just to add to the Belizean stories, I took the ship's tour to Lamanai Ruins which requires an hr ride (in one of those comfy buses:rolleyes:) and then a little over an hr on the river to the ruins. At the ruins, an army of fire ants attacked our ankles while we were under one of the trees in the jungle (with howler monkeys overhead). Boy they were really nasty - red, itchy eventually but initially hurt! And I had applied bug stuff.:eek:

 

You brought a smile to my face hearing about Captain Lars. What a great gentleman with such a sense of humor. The cruise on the Pearl through the Panama Canal last Apr. was extra special with him at the helm. Plus his wife was onboard so he had something to comment on after giving us the weather & safety announcements.:)

 

How cold was that water when you went cave tubing? Not sure about that free float stuff. I think I'll stick with snorkeling (and seeing a turtle is getting to be more and more of a treat).:D

 

What's your next adventure?[/quote']

 

Ugh about the fire ants, Barb! We were lucky...we were traveling during the dry season and barely saw a bug let alone being bit by anything.

 

I don't know how adventurous it is, but leading into Memorial Day we're headed to Key West for a few days and decided to tack a three-day Bahamas cruise on the Sky at the end. (Figured, why not since we'll be down there anyway??)

 

After that it'll Bermuda on the Dawn in September (no flying, YAY!!).

 

How about you?

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Nice pics, thanks for sharing. Especially liked the ones of the chocolate buffet!:D

 

The Spirit does the buffet the best! They do it in the Windows dining room instead of up at the buffet like the rest of the ships. Much more elegant this way!

 

It's exactly as cubechick says- the walk up river the guides tell you all about the wonderful berries you can eat, then take a bite of one, then say, "here- try it! But it's very bitter, and looks just like the terribly poisonous ones. Try it!"

 

On and on it goes, bugs, snakes, floods, bats, spiders. But you don't think about these things when you're floating- you're just trying not to bang into rocks or link your feet into some guy's armpit;).

 

Butts up!

 

I forgot about "butt's up", LOL. :D

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For Costa Maya we had decided it was time to see some Mayan Ruins. We chose the Chacchoben Ruins solely based on the fact that it was a four-hour tour to see them instead of six and a half hours for the Kohunlich Ruins. Research indicated that the extra time on the other tour was bus time; no thank you!

 

Our instructions were to meet on the pier at 9:45 (yay, no tendering!), so we took our time in the morning, although we did have breakfast at the buffet which we usually do when we're in a hurry (we ate there every morning we were in port). This tour operated with efficiency. When we arrived at the appointed place at 9:40, one group was already being lead to their bus. After maybe ten minutes our group was taken to our waiting coach. The large, comfy bus was such a pleasure after the school bus in Belize!

 

As promised the drive to the Chacchoben ruins took about an hour. Our tour guide, Diana Garcia Reyes was excellent (it turned out she was the first guide to ever do this tour and she trains everyone). We learned a lot about the Mayan culture and the Mexican culture as well. The ruins were just wonderful. I was really glad that we went to check them out, as this was a first for us! The weather continued to bless us with a wonderful, sunny day. No rainy season yet, so no bugs and little humidity. YAY!

 

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And a couple of more pics...

 

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This really was an excellent tour!

 

 

Costa Maya is only in existence as a port of call for the cruise ships, so there isn’t an actual town here. There are plenty of shops and a Carlos and Charlie’s and a Senor Frogs of course. All of these people come to work here just for the ships so how could we not spend some money? Carlos and Charlie’s fit the bill with a big plate of nachos and a couple of cervesas (Dos XX this time). There might have been a couple of tequila shots in there as well.

 

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(I think we corrupted our little bear!)

 

Believe it or not, we were pretty active this evening! First we went to Champagne Charlie’s for a before dinner drink. Actually, we had gone here every night…I don’t know why I hadn’t mentioned it. They have entertainment here, but usually not anything I care too much for. Standard “easy listening” type stuff, but too loud for you to be able to carry on a pleasant conversation. Tonight was different! Some of the members of the orchestra were there to play New Orleans jazz and blues! The moment DH sat down, a grin split his face. The music was so good and the musicians so talented! It made me want to blow off dinner (or have a pizza delivered!) so we wouldn’t have to leave. It reminded me of going to Fat Cats on the Epic and listening to Slam Allen. I wish NCL would present more entertainment like that across the fleet!

 

Dinner was again the in the MDR and was very good. Had a humerous moment when I ordered a bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse. A confused bartender sent our waitress back to us wanting know if I wanted the white or the red. LOL. I assured her it only came in white. She seemed skeptical until she returned with the bottle I’d requested and said that the bartender was new.

 

We were in our normal kicked-back mode when we remembered the Chocoholic Buffet was coming up. We ran down to meet up with Belkys who let us in for a sneak peek. The Spirit presents the Chocoholic Buffet in the Windows dining room. It’s so elegant compared to the rest of the ships who hold it in the buffet. After we had taken our photos (which I'll have to post separately), I had stopped to chat with our butler. While speaking with him, another guest came up and said that we were turning around and heading to Cozumel for a medical emergency. I had noticed that we had slowed down, but had no idea that was why! Back in the stateroom the navigation channel sure enough showed us making a u-turn! DH went to watch the process, which took awhile. Never did find out what happened.

Tomorrow Sea Day…gotta pack.

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Here's a little food porn. As I stated, the Spirit's Chocoholic Buffet is the best (at least on the Norwegian fleet!). It is held in the Windows MDR and they have a film running showing the making of the buffet...cool...so much more elegant than the buffet restaurant being the venue!

 

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Craving any chocolate yet?

Edited by Cubechick

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