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superflyjeff

NCL Spirit Review - April 1, 2005 Sailing (LONG)

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*FIRST LET ME SAY THAT THIS REVIEW AND THE ALL NEW UPDATED MOVIES WITH MUSIC ARE ON OUR HOMEPAGE: http://WWW.JEFFANDJENETTE.COM

 

NCL SPIRIT – SHIP REVIEW

EXOTIC SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN

April 1-10, 2005

 

 

Presented by:

Jeff & Jenette Cantrell

(CC Members: Superlfyjeff)

http://www.jeffandjenette.com

 

We recently returned from our April 1, 2005 sailing of the NCL Spirit. It was the exotic Southern Caribbean itinerary (9 nights / 10 days). I will start by saying that is was our third sailing with NCL and we are very big fans of Freestyle Cruising. Overall we have always enjoyed the freedom of choice for not only our dinner times, but also our options of restaurants on board.

 

When we originally booked this cruise, we went with a Cat H guarantee room. We received our Docs about 2-3 weeks after booking directly with NCL and found that we’d been assigned to a Cat C room (Superior Ocean View). To keep a very long story short…I ended up calling to get an upgrade and was offered the choice of a Balcony or Penthouse. I first decided to take the balcony because it was the last on the ship. After careful consideration and negotiations with my wife, I called and upgraded us to an AC Penthouse Suite. We were very excited as this would be our first experience in such luxury on a cruise ship. We weren’t sure of what exactly to expect, but as one would expect it all turned out to be a wonderful experience. Now…with all that said, let’s move on to the cruise.

 

Embarkation:

My wife and I arrived at the Port of Miami around 4pm on Friday, April 1st and dropped off our bags with the porters. We quickly found excellent parking and made our way towards the terminal. As fate would have it, while we were parking about five buses let off around 300-400 people all lined up to enter the NCL terminal. I found a nice gentleman wearing an NCL nametag and asking him if there was a special line for those staying in Suites on the Spirit. He promptly escorted us to the front of the line where the Terminal Security checked out passports. We stepped into the main terminal and in less than 30 seconds we were greeted by our concierge for the Trip, Claudio Schulze. Claudio swept us over to the VIP check-in to begin our boarding process. While they processed our payment information and took pictures for their system, Claudio provided us with maps and answered some questions we had. Within minutes we were all checked in and he then escorted us to the front of the security line. Claudio then told us that he still had other quest to meet up with, but that he would be by to see us in our room about 7 pm. We then entered the ship and made our way to our room by about 4:15. Our room stewards came to introduce themselves and within about 10 minutes all of our luggage was delivered by them! This was hands down the quickest embarkation ever for us.

 

First Impressions of the Ship:

As this ship was re-flagged from the Star line, it’s probably the most unique ship sailing in the USA right now. The initial design of the ship was designed to cater to an Asian cruise market. There is a huge French influence throughout the ship with a unique blend of Classic & Contemporary Asian décor. The grand atrium in the lobby is fantastic with water features, grand staircase, glass elevators, and a grand piano that sits between the staircases with a floor made of frosted glass that is has ambient mood lighting that shines through it. It’s really quite breathtaking at night. Overall the ship has a true classic liner feel to it with a wonderful mesh of different decors making it extremely unique. All of the main areas we explored were very clean and well maintained. The Spirit is a fantastic sized ship. She’s not too big or too small and well laid out throughout most of the decks. The Tivoli pool was our last stop on the tour of the ship and what a magnificent pool it is. Roman statues and columns surround the pool with 4 large hot tubs with cover. A very nice space, especially with the Bier Garden upstairs to top it off as a top notch pool area.

 

AC Penthouse - 10522 – Sagittarius Suite

We made our way to our room and opened the door. Once we took a look inside we were in complete awe. The room was amazing. When you first entered the room, we had a nice bar set up with a large variety barware, refrigerator, storage cabinets, coffeemaker, and menus from all the restaurants on the ship. Also on the left was the dinning room setup. It was a nice table with four chairs. It was really best suited to be used for two people, no more. Straight ahead into the room was the living room that came equipped with a loveseat, two chairs, coffee table with fresh flowers, entertainment credenza with full size TV and DVD player. The balcony opened up from the living room and had full size teak lounge chair, a bench, and teak end table.

 

In the middle of the living quarters we found two mirrored French pocket doors that opened to the master suite with a luxurious bath. To my left as I walked in, I found the queen sized bed in a quaint alcove. The bedroom alcove had a TV and also feature very elegant mirrored ceilings and walls to make for a romantic little bedroom! The alcove also had curtains that could be closed off at night to black out the bed in case you wished to sleep in. The master bathroom was set on the exterior walls of the ship and placed the full sized glass walk in shower and whirlpool luxury bathtub with floor to ceiling windows on both. The tub also had a small door that opened up onto the balcony so you could enjoy the sea breeze while in your bath. The floors in the bathroom were hand mosaic tiled and the countertops in the bath were black granite with dual sinks. The bathroom also boasted a large linen closet that provided us with extra soft towels and the coveted NCL bathrobes. One of the best features of all was the private toilet with a frosted glass door. My wife’s favorite feature in the bath was the vanity with excellent lighting and a very comfy place to sit and do her makeup and hair.

 

Once we’d taken in the room, we started exploring it a little more and found a variety of letters from different officers of the ship welcoming us on board. We also found a complimentary bottle of Champaign and some delicious treats on our dining table. We also found several letters from Claudio explaining how he would be available for any services we may need. He also suggested that we notify him as soon as possible the restaurants we wanted to dine at throughout the week so he could get us the best tables and times before some of the specialty restaurants booked up.

 

Friday, April 1, 2005

 

6:00 pm – Miami Skyline Welcome Aboard Party

This has been a long time favorite of ours. I know all cruise ships do it, but NCL does a very good job overall. The was a bountiful BBQ and buffet for everyone to get their taste buds going before dinner. We opted for the top deck and got a wonderful view of the Miami skyline on our way off to sea. The house pool band, Trini-Flavour is fantastic. They played all our favorite reggae and calypso favorites to get the mood right for the party. We enjoyed the sail away and then head to the CC Sail Away Meeting…

 

7:00 pm – CC Sail Away Meeting – Bier Garden

I had no problem finding Thom since he had Bunny with him. I made my way over to him to introduce myself and start preparing to hand out the first sets of nametags I’d made for everyone (well…almost everyone…sorry CindyandSteve!). We had a nice turn out, I’d say at least 80% of the group made it for the Sail Away party, even if just to swing by and say hello. We all enjoyed the exit from the port of Miami and out into the great wide ocean!

 

8:30 – Dinner at Window’s Restaurant

Since it was the first night of the cruise and it was a late departure, we decided to skip the specialty restaurants the first night. We opted to go to the Window’s restaurant on the aft of the ship. You could notice a bit of vibration when the ship was going at full speed. The food and service however was nothing to complain about. We encountered a very friendly staff and were offered prompt service. The food was quite good. We tried a variety of different dishes and all of them exceptional.

 

We ended our evening with a stroll around the ship one more time. We decided to head back to our penthouse and watch some TV and enjoy the fantastic amenities of our suite. We finished the evening off with some Champaign and chocolate covered strawberries. After a bath in the whirlpool tub with the window overlooking the sea and the window next to the tub open onto the balcony, it was the perfect end to this magical first day of our cruise.

 

 

 

Day 2 – Saturday – April 2, 2005 (Sea Day)

 

8:30 am – Breakfast Severed in room

Our butler, Ernlando arrived promptly at 8:30 am as requested. The suite menu was a bit more extensive than the one for the standard rooms, however I quickly learned that you could really order just about anything you’d like and they would accommodate you (of course tipping your butler well could have a lot to do with that level of service, but I digress). The presentation of breakfast was really quite nice. Ernlando prepared the table with fresh linens and flowers, along with plates and silverware. He cheerfully explained each and every thing as he was presenting it to our table. It was unbelievable to sit in our lovely room while listening to the sounds of the sea while feasting on all our cruising breakfast favorites, from the warm croissants to Jenette’s freshly prepared omelet. It was really the perfect start to our first day at sea.

 

Daytime Activities:

We mostly lounged around the pool and found some nicely half shaded and half not so shaded areas towards the back of the pool. There were of course tons of people that notoriously go out first thing in the morning and place their towns and whatnots out there, only to never return. I’ve gotten to the point now that I just ask the person sitting closest if anyone has been there recently…usually the answer is no or not at all. After a little pool time, we went in for a bit of pre jewelry shopping at the onboard stores and then to the casino for a bit. We enjoyed a delicious meal at the window restaurant for lunch and a late afternoon snack since we were preparing for a late dinner. We then retired to our room for a nap to be surprised with more appetizers compliments of the ship (I believe it was the fruit and brie tray). After enjoying our snack, we laid down for a short nap to refresh before our big evening out!

 

Saturday Night -7:30 – Magical Showtime “Knight Magic!”

We opted for the early show since we had 8:30 dinner reservations. I have to say that I really love the Moulin Rouge Theater on the Spirit. It’s laid out fairly well, some of the balcony seats on the side are a bit hard to see from, but the main sitting area is overall quite good. The “Knight Magic” show featuring Tyler Knight was pretty good. It definitely wasn’t the best magic show I’ve seen; however the kids on board did seem to enjoy it. The show did move along at a decent pace and was mildly entertaining. I knew that he was doing a second (different) show later in the cruise but had decided at this point I probably wouldn’t go back to see him again.

Saturday Night -8:30 – Dinner at Sho Gun

We decided to get into the Sho Gun Restaurant early in on the cruise because we’d heard stories about it booking up quickly in the first few days. Claudio made sure that our schedule was taken care of for the rest of the week and at 8:30 that evening we arrived and were promptly seated. The restaurant obviously has a fantastic Asian décor to it. The food we ordered was amazing. My wife had the Tuna Sashimi dinner and I had a Tiger Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura dish. The Miso Soup and ginger dressing salad was very good as well. We ordered some sushi also and it was of superior quality (just as good as most of our better sushi restaurants in Florida). The service was quite nice and we really enjoyed the experience well worth the premium for the restaurant. I believe it is one of the most affordable of them all. I would highly suggest you try this restaurant, especially because the surcharge it is one of the lowest, yet the service and food was tremendous! We took a nice stroll around the ship, still in amazement of the absolute beauty of it and also stopped to play at little more blackjack…all just killing time for the premier occasion of the cruise….the infamous NCL “Chocoholic Buffet”.

 

Saturday Night -11p-12m – NCL’s “Chocoholic Buffet”

The buffet was set up in the Raffle’s buffet on the top of the ship. This was far different from any of the other NCL cruises we’ve been on. Typically, one of the main dinning rooms is set up in quite an impressive presentation. The “concept” of having the Chocoholic Buffet in the buffet restaurant makes sense, but it does however loose a lot in the wow factor. I mean, it was pretty easy to navigate through the selections as they had the same thing in all four of the buffet lines. It was a bit crowded (more so than I’ve seen even on smaller ships in the main dinning room). The chocolate was top notch however, so it seems that the quality beat out the presentation on this one. It would have been nicer to see a glorious set up in the Windows restaurant, but it was good nonetheless.

 

 

Day 3 – Sunday – April 3, 2005 (Sea Day)

 

8:30 am – Breakfast Severed in room

We decided that we really enjoyed dining in our room. For me, it just seemed so nice, personal, and easy to enjoy it in the penthouse. We could order virtually anything we wanted and Ernlando would make sure that we had it. He arrived this morning promptly at 8:30 am, as requested. He did a lovely presentation as he’d done the first day and we then sat and enjoyed our fabulous balcony view sipping on our coffee to get the day started.

 

8:30 – Dinner at Maxim’s

Claudio got us in to Maxim’s as soon as he could. The reservations the top notch specialty restaurants go quick, so be sure to book as early in the week as possible! We were so excited to try it out. The décor inside is truly LUSH. I mean we’re talking Versace plates, fine linens and silver…the works. We had a fantastic waiter that described to us the variety of things we could order from the menu and also the other “top shelf” and super premium items they had as well. We both opted to go the full Monty and have their Surf and Turf combination, which included a 4 or 6 ounce fillet mignon and one half of a fresh broiled Maine lobster. The meal was fantastic and the presentation as well. While Maxim’s is the most premium restaurant, I would not hesitate to eat there again. There were so many days that they offered the two for one specials at the specialty restaurants, I don’t see why you couldn’t make it to a lot of them while taking advantage of the pricing specials. Nevertheless, this meal was one of the top three while on board and we really enjoyed. 100% recommended!!

 

 

Day 4 – Monday – April 4, 2005 (Barbados)

 

Excursion planned/booked: RhinoRiders Water Safari

Well….we were very excited about this excursion. We originally pre-booked for the Harrison Cave Tour, but changed after seeing a flier for this on the ship. The idea was that you get to drive around in these little 10 ft boats and go snorkeling off them and get a full tour around Barbados. Well, I’m going to keep this short for you all because I certainly raised enough ruckus with NCL over it. We basically didn’t get anything that we signed up for. We arrived at the dock to sit and wait for 30+ minutes. After distribution of snorkel gear, life vests, etc, we were ushered onto a large boat that was going to take us to a snorkel site. The site was actually a nice shallow wreck in about 15-20 feet. We snorkeled that and another spot for about 25 minutes and then we were told it was time to go meet the boats finally. We went to the meeting point and then sat there for aprox. 45 minutes before anything at all happened. Another 20 minutes goes by and the first group that had been out on the “Rhino Rider” boats for the last 3 hours to “switch out” with us. We got into these horribly maintained boats and they took us on a 20 minute figure eight pattern along one part of the coast and then motioned that we would drive back to the meeting point for another 10 minutes (totaling a whopping 30 minutes in the boat). We couldn’t even run the boats at full throttle because half of them ran so poorly that they could not keep up and we all had to wait for them. When we got back to the dock I filed a complaint with the excursion company right there on the scene (I highly suggest this because this helps your case with NCL). I came back to the ship and filed out a NCL excursion / customer complaint form. It took till the end of the trip, but they finally offered to credit my account for the excursion since 10 of the 12 people in our group filed complaints. I was very surprised and disappointed that NCL did not do anything else to compensate for my lost day….the excursion was awful and we lost the entire day in Barbados. They did not buy us a bottle of wine, a on-board credit, nothing. I was shocked. NCL has always been so accommodating in the past, but I from what I understand they are fairly limited to the powers of issuing credits for situations like this. They told me to deal directly with NCL corporate on it…of course. We’ll see what happens.

 

7:30 – Dinner at Thai Pan Bistro

Le Bistro has long been one of our very favorite things about NCL, even before they were “Freestyle”. This was the first of two visits we were having at Le Bistro, so we both opted to get something different on this visit. We of course had to start with the Escargot (which is some of the best I’ve ever had and we get it every time we eat there over the last many years). I tried the Wild Mushroom soup and it was fantastic. Jenette tried the Spinach Salad with warm goat cheese toast croutons. For our entrees, I had the Sea Bass which was wonderful and Jenette tried the Salmon on their recommendation. Both of the dishes were fantastic. We had a light dessert and passed on the Chocolate Fondue since we knew we were coming back with Joe & Theresa and we’d go all out that night.

 

Day 5 – Tuesday – April 5, 2005 (Grenada)

 

Excursion planned/booked: 2 Tank Scuba Dive / Aquanauts Grenada

We were really excited about this dive because we’d planned it ahead of time with two different couples from Cruise Critic that had booked with a reputable shop (or at least we thought). The dive was going to be Thom, Waz, TV Cruiser & his wife Sherry, me and Jenette. Thom and Waz were had planned for months with this company to orchestrate an advance dive for them that they had wanted to dive in Grenada for a long time. It was a sunken cruise ship called the “Bianca”. This was planned to be one of the highlights of their trip, no doubt. I wasn’t especially impressed with the staff at the dive shop; however their rental gear was top notch (some of the best and newest gear I’ve ever rented for any dive ever). The staff on the other hand was something completely different. When we arrived, we promptly filled out our disclaimers and whatnot, and they took our money gladly. After we paid, they then told Thom and Waz that they would NOT be going on this dive they’d been planning with the company for some three months. Needless to say, Thom was furious, demanded his money back, and left to return to the cruise ship. I really can’t blame him. How professional is it to plan a trip like this for someone over a matter of two or three months with dozens of email confirmations and then at the last minute they go and decide not to do it because they are the “only two that want to do it”. That’s total BS in my opinion. The company made the commitment and Thom was only there for one day. He was depending on them to come through for them. The staff was also less than helpful at times and sort of down right pushy and rude. This was the first time in 30 something dives that I’ve never tipped a dive boat. The dives were great and check out my pictures, they tell all the stories for me. However, overall I’d give this dive shop Two Big Fat Thumbs Down and wouldn’t recommend anyone to use them. I’m pretty easy to please and I did get a great deal on a pair of fins there, but the shop overall sucked. I think Thom would agree with me.

 

7:30 – Tappanyaki Grill

I was a bit worried about this night because I’d read a lot of very negative comments about this particular restaurant on the Spirit. Much to my surprise, we really enjoyed it. The Garlic Fried Rice is top notch and Chef Randy very kindly made me a separate portion with no eggs in it. His showmanship was not that of someone you would find in a Kobe style restaurant, but come on….it’s only $12 per person, what do you expect. The portions were very good size and unlike what I’ve read from most people, my beef was cooked to a perfect medium. I had the filet mignon and tiger shrimp, while my wife had the chicken and shrimp. We were visited by the food and beverage manager / executive chef while we were in there and he asked if everything was ok. I told him things would be much better if I had one of those fancy NCL chef hats. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but about 5 minutes later he returned with one for me and granted me an honorary NCL Chef for the evening. Anyone that knows me shouldn’t’ be surprised when I said that I wore the hat for the entire dinner and then proceeded to walk in and out of various restaurants on the ship and ask other guests how their dinner was and to be sure and enjoy the rest of their evening. I went and had my portrait taken of me in my hat. Jenette would not be seen taking a picture of me and I was unfortunately not able to purchase it on the last day of the cruise since they close your shipboard account the morning of the last day and I didn’t have cash on me. It’s a shame too because I wanted to have it framed for my office. Needless to say, it was a great story to come from that evening of fantastic food and fun!

 

Day 6 – Wednesday – April 6, 2005 (St Lucia)

 

Excursion planned/booked: Volcanic Expression & Beach Escape

I will open this by letting you know after taking this excursion and speaking with nearly every NCL excursion employee, this is hands down the BEST excursion in St Lucia. It’s a perfect combination of three different types of excursions all wrapped into one and it’s pretty affordable as excursions go! Cost was $69 per person I believe. We started the day with a tender to the St Lucia dock and then gathered to get on a very well appointed tour bus. We had a wonderful local tour guide named “Daisy” and she did an incredible job giving us lots of fun local information throughout our one and a half hour bus tour. The tour stopped at every one of the “essential” photo opportunities along the road. You can really get some amazing shots of the beautiful landscape. Now…beware. I’m a salesperson by profession and do a great job negotiating, HOWEVER at the first bus stop I was so swarmed with people literally grabbing me to sell me stuff and trying to get my exclusive selling rights from the other locals. I was completely overwhelmed. I ended up just buys a necklace for my nephew for $20 (which was about $15 too much), but I didn’t know what to do the guy was all over me and I just wanted to get back on the bus. After that little experience I did what I usually do and suggest to others, which is, just acknowledge their offer and kindly say no thank you and move on. So back to the tour….it was great we went all the way to the Volcano and got a guide tour there and then back to the city of Soufrie to board part two of our tour. This would be the Catamaran portion. We boarded on schedule and their was lunch to be served on board. There were a lot of people, all the old people took every shady spot there was, and it was crowded….but what do you expect on a group Catamaran tour? The lunch was actually good too and the free rum punch. We sailed for about an hour and then took us to a famous bay where we had access to a private resorts beach. Take a look at the pics on this one too, because words can’t do it justice. St Lucia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. So, we had about an hour or so on the beach, we loaded back up, and headed out to sail back to the dock where we could either shop or take the tender back to the ship. We opted to shop, but didn’t find anything other than some great local special rum for my father in law. It was getting close to time and we were ready for a snack and a nap, so we headed back to the ship. The tender lines were sort of long, but they were running about six or seven tenders, so the line moved very fast. I was impressed because I hate tendering, but this wasn’t so bad.

 

 

7:30 – Garden Room Restaurant

We opted to not have dinner reservations on this night, knowing that after our long 6-7 hour excursion we may be too tired for a long dinner. We were standing in front of one of the monitors on the seventh floor when our concierge Claudio walked by and saw us trying to decide which restaurant had the shortest wait. He quickly ran down to the Garden Room and got us a table while they were on a 45-50 minute wait. There was a lovely Canadian couple we meet at the Tappanyaki Room the night before. They were waiting for a table and we asked them if they’d like to join us. There was a delicious Italian menu this evening in the Garden Room and both of us had the Chicken Parmesan. I had a Tiramisu for dessert and Jenette had a Chocolate Soufflé with a Bailey’s sauce drizzled over it. I would definitely rate the food in the main dining rooms to be excellent or above all the times we ate there.

 

 

Day 7 – Thursday – April 7, 2005 (Antigua)

 

Excursion planned/booked: Private tax tour / beach escape

After careful consideration, we canceled our NCL Antigua Beach Escape and decided to go out with some of the other CC Members from the ship to a less commercialized beach. We traveled with: Zowie & Theresa, Pampro & Garypro, Mr & Mrs Jellyfish, and of course Jenette and me. We all had an idea of what we wanted to spend on the taxi for a group of our size and ventured off to the end of the pier. We spoke to our concierge, Claudio, just before leaving and he told us of all the less “touristy” beaches to go to and where we could find all of the amenities that we were seeking since we were such a large group. Now came time to deal w/ the taxi drivers…I of course was designated the group negotiator and we proceeded down to the end of the pier. The first older guy we ran into started telling us all the places he was going to take us (none of which were the places that Claudio suggested and I didn’t like that). It came time to talk money now…we had a party of eight and wanted a van for the whole day for total freedom. We offered him $20 per person for the day, plus a generous tip if he were to show us a good time. Out of nowhere this dude just starts freaking out on us yelling and screaming. We all agreed…let’s go talk to someone else. A really nice guy came up to us and we explained what we wanted to do…he hmmmm’d and haaaa’d a bit, but then agreed to do it. Then out of nowhere the other dude comes back yelling at us that if the other guy will do it that now we must go with him. He was rude and kinda freaking us all out. We had a pow wow and came to the conclusion that we should go w/ the nice guy and get as far away from the guy screaming at us that hated us! So anyway, the taxi guy takes us to his van that his son Corey was driving. We told him to take a beach on the other side of the island and that we may want to beach hop after that. He said cool and off we went. We arrived at Long View Beach (I think that’s the name of it)….this place was AWESOME. We didn’t need to go anywhere else for anything. It was not too crowded and beautiful. When I say beautiful, I mean like postcard Antigua beautiful! We rented chairs and umbrellas and all got settled in. The place was great. They had anything you could need, plus there was a posh all inclusive resort right next door. Jenette and I snuck in there and took a dip in their pool! Zowie and Theresa got to ride a wave runner and everyone snorkeled. We had some lunch there…chilled out. And headed back to the ship around 3:00pm. Well….Jenette and I decided to split from the group and take out last chance at looking for Tanzanite. We went to Diamonds International and found this wonder ring for her. We started to negotiating and the next thing you know they accept my offer at 89% off list price! Then to top it off we had to be back on the ship in like 20 minutes!! The master jeweler sized the ring from a 7 to a 3.5 in less than 10 minutes flat! It was amazing I watched him rebuild the entire ring all over….it was really cool. We literally ran to the ship and were among the last to get there. WOW! What a day….this was one of our best non-dive excursion days. It was wonderful hanging out w/ all the CC Members!

 

 

9:30 – Raffles Buffet

CC Members met up by chance at the Raffles Buffet…It had to have been fate. The food was ehhhh so so at best, but the company was great we all sat there for a couple of hours laughing and talking (especially me). Members present: Pampro/Garypro, Mr & Mrs Jellyfish, Jenette and me!

 

 

Day 8 – Friday – April 8, 2005 (Tortolla)

 

Excursion planned/booked: NCL Dive In / Wreck of the Rhone:

Wow! I Don’t know if words can do this dive justice. Be sure to watch the movie slide show to see all the awesome underwater shots with my digital camera. Well, I was a little nervous going into this dive as I’ve never dove wreck period or actually penetrated it and inside of a ship. I unfortunately watched the movie “The Deep”. For those that don’t know, the wreck of the Rhone is the actual dive site they filmed all the dive / exterior shots of the diving. It’s awesome, the ship sank in back in the mid/late 1880’s and it’s still in the two pieces that it originally that got blown hundred of yards apart. The dive crew was top notch…they work directly with NCL and I would highly recommend them! The dive its self was amazing I went into the ship w/ no problem, Jenette however, had a horrible case of vertigo out of nowhere. She regained her balance and she followed me through ship. We swam through 3 floors and then out the side. After that and a safety stop, we had some delicious coconut cake and pound cake while they briefed us on the dive. We went and dove the rear portion of the ship and got to see the lucky portal and the original propeller which are huge…like 50-60 ft across! Waz and Thom were great to dive with. I got some pics of him, but now I’m just hoping that I’ll get some video of the dive from hmmmm! HINT HINT!!!

 

7:30 – Capitan’s VIP Cocktail Party | Located in the Art Gallery

Claudio delivered us invitations to the Captain’s VIP Cocktail Party and we were really excited! I started to get ready unusually early and pulled me clothes out for the night to start getting ready. That day I had my best slacks and my favorite tie and only one shirt goes with it dry cleaned on the ship…they did an excellent job. I didn’t even bother with my shirt because I’d had that dry cleaned back home. Well…as fait would have it, there was a horrible oil stain right under the pocket on the shirt. The tie was like practically made to go with that color shirt and it’s the only tie I have. I ran down to the port of call shops because I could have sworn I’d seen dress shirts and stuff in there. Well, low and behold, I found my collar size and length in arms, PLUS a great tie to go with it (I even got a Latitudes Member discount on them!). Well, now we have another problem on our hands….my shirt comes out of the pinned up wrapped looking like total doo doo! Creases everywhere…I’m having a complete anxiety attack. Jenette picks up the phone and calls Claudio and explains situation. He said someone would be there in less than 2 minutes and in deed…just in 90 seconds time, there was a steward at my door to take my shirt o be cleaned. We had less than 20 minutes before we had to leave. Claudio said to get ready, put on undershirt and socks, shoes, etc and even tie the tie if possible. The dry cleaning was back in my TEN MINUTES!!! Hand delivered! Amazing service…I tell you.

 

So now on to the Captain’s Party. We arrived right on time and were promptly greeted by Claudio and the Captain on the ship. He was very kind and polite and asked a lot of questions about what we did and where we were from. We spoke to him for about 10 minutes and then we talked to the hotel director and food & beverage manager (executive chefs). TV Cruiser and his wife were there as well and we all got some great laughs with Claudio. It really was a fantastic time. We got to hob nob w/ the best of the best on the ship! They served us a delicious selection of appetizers, a much wider variety than I expected. There was also an open bar on the Captain. There was a great turnout….I think almost all 20 suites showed up.

 

8:30 – Thai Pan Bistro Dinner w/ Zowie & Theresa

Now this was truly a night to remember. We’d been very lucky on most of our cruises and met some people that you really connect with and Joe and Theresa were definitely two of them. We’d been out partying with them till the wee hours of the night nearly every night, but decided only a few nights into it that we needed to set it up and have a proper dinner out. In my opinion, there could be no finer place on the ship than Le Bistro. Claudio had already made reservations for us earlier in the week, so we just rang him up and of course he made it happen!

 

So, after the VIP Captain’s party, we meet Joe and Theresa at Thai Pan Bistro. When we were greeted by Monica, she informed us that there would be a slight delay of just a few moments because they were preparing a special table for us. They promptly seated us in less than five minutes and we were on our way to a delicious feast. Jenette and I had the “anniversary package”, so we took full advantage of our free bottle of wine (I suggest the JP Cheney if you like Merlot…it’s the best economical red wine w/ NCL and it’s one of your options for the anniversary package) and of course our dinner was included with the package as well. I paid the extra $5 to go hog wild and get the surf and turf with fillet and lobster tails. Most of us had that incredible wild mushroom soup, my lord, I want to take a bath in it…it’s that good. I think everyone else either had surf and turf or fillet for their entrees. I know that we finished off the night with the infamous

 

Day 9 – Saturday – April 8, 2005 (Sea Day)

 

-7:30 – Farewell CC Dinner – Window’s Restaurant

Well it was the last night and I figured what the heck….why not make an all call to all the CC Members that we’d been hanging out with and do a proper “Farewell Dinner”. Some people had other arrangements already and whatnot, but we did have a great party of six including: PamPro, GaryPro, Zowie, Theresa, Jenette, and myself of course. We got a nice big table with no problem. We had Claudio call ahead to make sure there would be no wait for our party and they assured us we would not have to wait long at all. In minutes, we were seated at our lovely table just far enough from the main windows in the aft of the ship that it created an appropriate ambiance with its silhouette of the window frames. I can’t remember what I ate at dinner this night; it was really just all about the six of us hooting it up one more time before we had to leave to return from our wonderful cruise. We all sat around and enjoyed the dinner and great company. This was such a tremendous ending to over a week of total bliss. Everyone agreed that this was probably one of the best cruises they’d ever been on. We sat and had to wait forever on coffee, which is one of my little pet peeves on cruise ships…coffee should be an easy thing to whip up for someone! But we had lot of shows that we didn’t want to miss, so we wrapped up dinner. It was nice to bump into Cindy & Steve J and MdVasquez at one of the near by tables. There were so many really nice CC people that we met on this cruise. By far the largest and best meetings I’ve seen to date!

 

Day 10 – Sunday – April 10, 2005 (Miami, FL)

 

10:30 – Express VIP Suite Check-Out

Express VIP Guest Check-Out is set for 10:30 am on Sunday. The rest of the ship is supposed to disembark at 12 noon, but we were getting a little extra jump on everyone so we didn’t have to deal with the zoo. We’d received tip envelopes for both Claudio the Concierge and Ernlando the Butler. I was very surprised upon completion of this cruise that the concierge service was 100 times more useful than the butler service. All our butler really did for us was bring us breakfast the mornings that we ate in our suite, and brought by appetizers and such that were compliments of the ship in the afternoon. I never really felt much of a connection with Ernlando, but Claudio on the other hand made our vacation for us. Every single detail, up to and including the VIP Disembarkation, that he took care of for us made a tremendous impact on our overall experience. He was genuine and really seemed like he wanted to help make this the best vacation we had ever been on. Even on our day off to the beach in a cab in Antigua, he made me maps and personal notes on where to go and where not to go to see the best things. It was that incredibly personal approach that made his treatment so special. I tipped him an appropriate amount, however in retrospect, I wish that I had tipped him two or three times the amount. It really wasn’t about being able to do it or have the money to throw away, but to honestly show him how much I appreciated the treatment and hospitality he provided us with on the ship.

 

So with all those reflections set aside, back to the VIP Check-Out. It was really a breeze. I had to get back to our room to pack before 3am the night before so I could make the 4am deadline for luggage. Needless to say, it was close, but I got it. They marked our bags with VIP tags so that they could separate them from the other thousands of bags and it would be much easier for us to find them when going through customs. Claudio had us meet at 10:30 and at about 10:45 he got a call to move us through employee areas to the customs offload area and poof! There were all the VIP bags hanging out in one little area. We found our bags, I had a teary eyed goodbye with Claudio and presented him with his envelope, and customs literally had us processed in less than 2 minutes. I’d say before 11am we were in our car already driving out of the parking lot on our way back to Sarasota, Florida…our home. Penthouse 10522 was our home for 10 days, but now it was back to the norm…back to reality.

 

Closing Statements

I spent a little more time on this review not necessary working on it, but really trying to be objective and more critical, but there was very little that I can complain about. The singers were so so at best, but the bands all rocked. The comedians sucked, but the disco was the hot spot to be late night. All in all it balanced out to be a great cruise. It’s a shame they will be sailing her out of New York next year because I would do the 10 day itinerary again in a heart beat. Overall the ship was elegant and rich…very different from most liners sailing in America right now. She has a true beauty to her that is hard to explain. I suggest taking a look through the pictures and movie slideshows on our picture page to do more justice than any words I can write.

 

Rating (on scale of 1 to 5…5 being highest)

 

Overall Cruise: 5 Stars

Food: 4 Stars

Entertainment: 4 Star

Cruise Staff: 4 Stars

Cruise Director: 5 Stars

Butler Service: 3 Stars

Concierge Service: 5 Stars

 

Bottom Line: I would highly suggest this cruise ship to anyone. A unique, one of a kind ship in today’s day and age.

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What a wonderful review. You really covered everything.

We are sailing on the Spirit in November out of NYC. We are booked in the same category as you were and I can't wait to see the cabin. I will take your advice and book the specialty restaurants as soon as we board the ship. Is there anyway we can find out the menu's for the regular restaurants to know when we would try them also?

Can't wait until November 27th.

 

Leona

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Go look at the movies and galleries (especially if you're on a high speed modem for the movies). The AC Penthouses are all very similar...

 

ENJOY!

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Wow! To start off with a Cat H room and end up sailing in am AC room. WOW!

Is it unusual for NCL to upgrade Latitudes members from a cat H to a cat C room? We are booking a spring cruise on either the Dawn, Jewel, or Majesty and I am wondering if we should lowball our cabin selection in order to get a nice upgrade. We would normally book an outside cabin and may go with a balcony. Advice:confused: !

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ALL NEW MOVIES PAGE>>>>JUST UPDATED>>>>>

 

go to http://www.jeffandjenette.com and click the animated picture right at the top saying Spirit Movies....it will open a special page just for the movies :) they are great w/ music now!

 

I hope you all enjoy and I'm SOOOO Glad to have finally fulfilled my duties to my CC friends!

 

Jeff

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Thank you for the great review - after seeing your pictures we upgraded to an AC suite on the Spirit out of New York in November!!

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Thank you for the great review - after seeing your pictures we upgraded to an AC suite on the Spirit out of New York in November!!

 

you are going to love it! whirlpool bath late at nice while at sea w/ the little door opened up to the ocean....oh la la. that is one fantastic suite!

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You should see if you can find out who your concierge will be. Maybe some one on here has the inside scoop on them for you! I know it helped a great deal with getting to know ours. Just a heads up :-)

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Thank you for the great review - after seeing your pictures we upgraded to an AC suite on the Spirit out of New York in November!!

 

I know who ever you have for a conceirge will be fantastic! I wish we could join you in November on the Spirit again. You may be able to call NCL and find out if they know who will be scheduled on the ship at that time. It's important to be one of the first people to make a major impact on the conceirge. It will really change your trip in a very positive way!!

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Superflyjeff, what an awesome review! Your cruise experience sounds so wonderful!

 

BF and I booked the Spitit out of NY for next February--Category C PH, like yours. I am so excited, especially now that I have seen your pictures. What a beautiful cabin.

 

Is it true that the full-length window next to the bathtub is one-way? It says that on the NCL site, but just wanted to double check! :)

 

Thanks for giving us the low-down and for sharing your cruise with us!

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Firstly, YOU'RE WELCOME! I really tried to take a close look at this particular cruise and make the best review I could. It really was an incredible experience for us, but I tried to stay as objective as possible.

 

The AC Penthouse is awesome. But, in asnwer to your question, I don't think the window is a "one way" view (if that is in fact what you were asking). There is no promenade deck outside the window, so it really didn't matter to us. In fact even in the shower there is a full floor to ceiling window. I actually rather enjoyed showering in the "buff" while we were out to sea. Both the shower & tub windows have blinds that pull down, so you can have privacy if you wish.

 

Any other questions...just let me know :-) We spent 10 days in that glorious cabin, so we know it well!!

 

Jeff

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Hello Jeff - I'm booked in the cabin directly across from you 10022. They sell the cabin stating that it can occupy 3 guests. As of today, I haven't decided who to take with me. I was hoping that I could take my mom & dad along (mom came with me on my cruise last December in the Dawn Owners Suite). I'm wondering where 3 adults would sleep or if I should plan to pick only 1 parent to go along (and leave 1 home very disappointed). They usually only sell for 2 if the room only accomodates 2 but the AC can book for 3.

 

Thanks Jeff for such a great review! I can't wait to go!

 

Sharon

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Sharon,

 

I believe the couch in the AC suite has a "pull out" sofa. That's probably how they can sleep 3 people in the room...it may be a tight squeeze on the sofa, but perhaps they could roll in an extra twin for you.

 

Also...as a side note. All the AC suites have a connecting Cat BB balcony room that is right next door. That may be a better options. That's what another CC Member did on our sailing so they had enough room for the kids!

 

Give a call and see how much that would run you....maybe it will be worth it and you'll get all the luxury and privacy of the AC suite to yourself, but can still share the penthouse during the day :)

 

Jeff

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Jeff, thanks for the info. I don't care if it's one-way but BF Joe does. He's convinced "everybody" will see me and, of course, want me. :rolleyes: Gotta love a guy like that, I guess ... poor vision-impaired thing. :D :eek:

 

Well, I figure we'll be able to tell by looking at it from the balcony, right?

 

Sharon! 10022 is the cabin we booked for 2/9/06! I'm so excited to know someone will be there before us who might (please please please) post some pics and/or a review! Kewl. :)

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Jeff I was on the Spirit in March- my first cruise ever and had Claudio as my concer. also! What a great person- I hope NCL pays him well!! (on top of the tips) I did enjoy the butler service- I agree didn't do as much as Claudio- but he did find me sea sickness pills after a very very rough first night!! Also took care of requests outside breakfast. I also agree with your dinner reviews! Bistro was my fav, by far!

 

I would cruise on the Spirit in a heartbeat again!

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Jeff, thanks for the info. I don't care if it's one-way but BF Joe does. He's convinced "everybody" will see me and, of course, want me. :rolleyes: Gotta love a guy like that, I guess ... poor vision-impaired thing. :D :eek:

 

Well, I figure we'll be able to tell by looking at it from the balcony, right?

 

Sharon! 10022 is the cabin we booked for 2/9/06! I'm so excited to know someone will be there before us who might (please please please) post some pics and/or a review! Kewl. :)

 

No problem! I'll make sure to get you some photos and give a full review. I can't wait 6 whole months!!!

 

Sharon

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No problem! I'll make sure to get you some photos and give a full review. I can't wait 6 whole months!!!

 

Sharon

 

Boy, I hear you on that. 8 1/2 months for us! I hate wishing my life away but eagerly count off the days until my next cruise! :(

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Does the bathroom close off from the bedroom at all? I'm having a tough time judging from the photos. Is there a door separating the 2 rooms?

 

Thanks!

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There are mirrored french pocket doors that pull to close off the living room space from the bedroom and bathroom. The Bedroom has these plush curtains that you can pull closed to completely black out the bedroom portion of the suite. This is especially good since the bed faces the bathroom.

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