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Carinthalas

Just back from the Spirit

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Myself and Amanda went on the Spirit from Barcelona to Venice on te 13th October 2012. It was our first time with NCL and prior to this we had only ever sailed with Thomson.

 

We arrived into the port of Barcelona at around 10.50am and spotted the Spirit, arrived at the check in desk at at 11.00am they started to check us in. We where processed through in a very efficient manner and by 11.15 where sat in the lounge area awaiting our call to board. At around 11.30 we where called and walked on to the Spirit into the Grand Centrum.....

 

Our first impression was Oh My Gosh that is beautiful as we walked in. We headed towards our cabin (6532) and where suprised to see it was already cleaned and ready for occupation (we had been told it may not be ready till after 14.00 by the forums). The bed was wonderfull, just the right side of firm and was huge with lots of room for us. The shower area was a little strange on layout, but was very clean (some items like the mirror are showing there age) and all things worked. Set up the safe, put the documents safe and thought lets have a walk round the ship.

 

We did a quick tour of the ship and was met everywhere by genuinely friendly staff at every turn (will go into detail later on specifics). We where blown away by the ship (please remember we have limited experience in this area) and everything was just bigger and better than anything we had experienced before. The theatre was out of this world, lots of room, comfy chairs and better than our home town theatre.

 

We popped to the Buffet (Raffles) to have a lunch and was taken back by the amount of options available. There where so many choices and the food was fresh and plentiful.

 

The ship was gradually filling with people and we headed back to the cabin to freshen up and get ready for the sail away that evening. Our cases where brought to the room about 13.30 and after unpacking and freshening up we headed up on deck and was having our welcome drink and relaxing into the holiday Spirit.

 

We took advantage of a wine package and headed to dinner for our first experience of the main dinning room. We went down to Windows and we where once again amased by the standard of the fixtures and fittings. The place looked like something from a movie set to me. It was spaceous yet cozy (weird I know) and we where shown to a table for two. We decided as it was our first night we would try one of our wines and settled down to see what the food would be like. I will confess at this point that I am not a foody (spoke to a few on board and they had a different view to the food to myself) and was genuinely delighted with the food as had heard some various threads about poor quality. We had the Snapper and Lobster and it was fantastic. I will try to do a seperate review on the food if people are interested.

 

We had a great meal and headed to the Theatre for our "taster show" and was entertained and enthused about the future shows of the cruise.

 

So to suamrise our initial impression was top drawer and we feel that our expectations where exceeded.

 

Thus ended day 1.

Edited by Carinthalas

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Great stuff. Please do write more about your experiences. I keep telling my neighbour who always sails Thomson to give it a try. She thinks it will be expensive but I find the cruise price comparable and she is not one for specality dining, casino or drinking much so her expenses on board would be far lower than mine usually are LOL

 

Going to send this thread to my sister too as she is cruising with me next Feb on her first cruise and it is on the Spirit.

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Enjoyed your review and anxious to read more. I was on the September 19th cruise on the Spirit and it was a fantastic cruise. Your review will bring back some great memories.

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Day 2

 

So, we sailed from Barcelona to Toulon and the trip was very smooth. We where not sure what the weather would be like so where prepared for all out comes. As it turned out the weather was great, sunshine all day long which was a pleasent suprise.

 

We headed to Raffles to try Breakfast and it was great food with a varied selection and I got to try pancakes with a stack of crispy bacon for the first time ever and it was awesome. After breakfast I decided it was time to find the entertainment for the day and proceeded to join in with all of the events that where available, Trivia, Pictionary, Table Tennis, Name that Tune, Dice Games and indoor golf games to name a few. We also made a team for the progressive Trivia which was great each evening as a start to the evening activities.

 

I have to say thanks to all of the Cruise staff who I spent a lot of time with and got to know well as was at most of the events. Special mention to Olye, Ben, Blair, Jonny, Megahan, Mercedes and McKenzie for keeping me entertained most days of the cruise.

 

We set ourselves up in Champagne Charlies which is where we made some great new friends and had the pleasure to meet Cynthia and Victor (bar keeps for Charlie's) for the first time. We had a few beverages before heading of to Windows once again where we had another fantastic meal with a couple from America (forgot to mention we are from Britain). The food and the company where excelent.

 

The evening took a strange turn as there was a massive thunderstorm with a brilliant lightning show that we witnessed from the front of the Galaxy of the Stars lounge. It was breath taking to watch the power of nature was special to watch.

 

We then headed to the Theatre for the evening show, but unfortunatley the traveling took its toll on us so we decided to have an earlier night than planned and headed back to the room without catching the show. We got back to the room and to my partners delight we had a new occupant peaking out from under the cover. It was flannel mouse, we have seen a lot of towel animals before, but never encounter anything as cute as this (my partner was beaming as she was feeling very drained and this perked her up) flannel mouse stayed with us for the remainder of the cruise.

 

Day 2 came to a happy end and we slept well despite the storm and rechardged the batteries ready

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We headed to Raffles to try Breakfast and it was great food with a varied selection and I got to try pancakes with a stack of crispy bacon for the first time ever and it was awesome.

 

I am loving your report, keep it coming. I love hearing about your first time eating pancakes and bacon. It reminded me of when my family from England came here to Louisiana when I was 10. We took them to a fair and they never had a corn dog and loved them. It's just interesting to learn something so common to one is not to another. :)

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We are heading out on the Spirit on the same crusie next June-I am enjoying your review! Keep it coming!!:D

Edited by mmbcater

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Day 3 dawns and the weather is awful, heavy rain all day long, so we decide not to head ashore at Livorno and spend a day on board and watch people getting very wet on the way down to the coaches to head of to Pisa and Florence.

 

Once again I pester the on board entertainment team and turn out for most of there events. I also head on down to the Casino and see what is available for the up comming sea days. I decide to sign up for the Texas hold-em tourney that is on the first sea day (something to look forward too).

 

We managed to meet up with some great folks for the progressive trivia and our team was now 5 strong (hi to Wendy, Pete and Jeanette) and also bumped into some of our competition (hi to the Hikers) and had a few well earned drinks before heading of to the Restaurant for dinner. We decided to ask for a shared table and had a great meal once again in Windows.

 

We decided to catch the show tonight and it was an acrobat/juggling/slapstick/trumpetting/tapdancing duo. Some of the stuff they did was very good, but other bits where not so great (they are new to the ship and I believe this was there first show and am sure it will become smoother with practice).

 

After this we adjorned to Charlies where we once again where looked after by Cynthia and Victor.

 

Day 3 was closing out so off to bed we popped.

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Just enjoyed the same cruise on 9/19. Made me homesick when you mentioned some of the names of the staff. Keep up your wonderful account so I can keep reliving my favorite cruise of all times. Bonni

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Day 4 and we are into Citivechia for Rome.

 

The day was a little dull and overcast as we awoke, but none the less we got up and headed to Windows for breakfast (just to change it up from Raffles and see what it was like). We ordered our food as is perfectly normal, I had Panckaes and my partner had the eggs benidict, and when the food came up I had a slice of fresh strawberry on top of my pancakes. I am not a fruit fan so offered it to my partner who is a big fan. A waiter spotted what I had done and came to the table to see if all was ok, I explained not a fan of strawberries but my partner is, at this he asked if she would like some fresh strawberries to accompany her breakfast, she jumped at the chance. This to me is an example of attentive, none invasive service and was very well recieved by us both.

 

We had another day onboard and where once again thorughly entertained by the cruise team and my redemption cards where filling up fast. We again took part in the Trivia and it was at this point that Victor approached me in Champagne Charlies and asked if I would like anything on Happy Hour, I was suprised as uptil then I had been going down to Henry's to pick up a bucket of beers during the happy hour. He advisied that he would pop down and get it for me so I could carry on with the quiz. Once again, service above and beyond. (this became a regular daily experience and he would ask each day which flavour of beer I would like).

 

We had a great day on board and where ready for our evening fun. We met up with a couple from Bath and had a hoot at our evening meal (hi to Paula and Sam) as we shared a similar sense of humor and got to comparing notes on what we had found. The food in Windows was once again top quality and I could not fault the service.

 

After dinner, we decided to take in the show. It was an act called Xander and Alison (Magician and assistant). Now I will confess I am a sceptic when it comes to this type of thing and was expecting something akin to a birthday party magician doing small low budget tricks.

 

WRONG, I was agahast at the tricks this couple performed, they where OUTSTANDING and at least of a quality that could easily have performed at a Vegas Casino. I would take friends to see them if ever they where in London I was that impressed.

 

So we headed out of the Theatre and up to the Galaxy of the stars to watch round 1 of the ship wide Karoke and there where some fantastic (good) and fantastic (bad) performances. We had a great evening and head back to the State room to find we had been invaded by a King Cobra (towel animal) that was once again a new and inovative use of our towels.

 

Thus ends day 4, more to follow soon.

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Day 5 and we are heading into Naples

 

I open the curtains in our stateroom and look out as we are sailing in. I will take a brief moment to explain that I have a few "wants to see" in my life and as I glance out of my window, there just outside the harbour is an American Aircraft carrier. I am like a kid with a new toy as I have always wanted to see one in the flesh (so to speak) as I used to play naval wargames as a teenager and this was why I was so thrilled.

 

We headed to breakfast with me bouncing and bubbling along and I bumped into the Food and Beverages manager and asked him if he by chance knew which one it was. Alas he did not, but advised he would enquire from the bridge crew and would let me know.

 

The weather had changed for the better and we now had glorious sunshine and blue skies as far as the eye can see. To use a line from Jamie Cullen, "what a difference a day makes" could not be any truer. We set ourselves up beside the Trivoli pool and where in and out of it and the hot tubs all day long and even managed to catch some colour which was not what we expected this late in the season. As the day went on, I asked any member of staff I came across which Carrier was in the bay, but alas I was not provided an answer.

 

We once again headed down to Charlies to settle in for our evening of entertainment, Victor had my beers before I could sit down.

 

This is where we met up with a smashing mother and daughter combo from New York (hi Chrissy and Suzie) who where an absolute blast for the rest of the cruise. We had many dinners with them and I will get on to telling you about them as they come up along the cruise.

 

I seem to have forgotten to mention a very important aspect on my previous days write up's...... The musical entertainment. I will try to cover them all now and will give honest feedback on all of them.

 

Ian the pianist was fantastic, great performer, distictive voice and a very wide range of musical talents. A gent to talk to and very entertaining to listen too.

 

Ocean Vibe are a 4 piece band from England, would guess ages at between 22 and 26 (sorry if I got that wrong guys and gals) who played a great range of music. Was great to hear a drummer doing vocals as this is rare to say the least. Songs where very well performed and entertaining.

 

Claudia and Doug (not sure on the names, sorry) where a pianist and drum duo. To me it sounded as if the drums where not in keeping with the tempo, but not hugely out, so a satisfactory performance but not in the league of the previous two mentions.

 

Latin three piece group (no idea what they where called sorry) where very good at what they did, but not my style of music. The lead singer and bongo player looked like they where enjoying the experience, but the keyboard player looked like he was bored sensless on all of the occasions we met them. As I said though, they sounded great.

 

Last but by no means lease (we did not meet him till the final night) was Angel. A solo accoustic guitarist. Wow, that is the best word I can come up with. He was top, top, top drawer. Apparently he does a set most nights in Henry's (but due to size of venue, not many can get in there comfortably) and I wish we had of known earlier as he was truely a great singer and artist.

 

Anyway time to get back on track with day 5......

 

We are on our way into dinner, yes you guessed it, Windows here we come when the captain comes on the tannoy to do the evening sail away announcement (he had been doing these each night and forgot to mention it) due to the number of requests as to which Aircraft carrier is in the bay from my staff, I can confirm it was the Enterprise. To say I was chuffed was an understatement. Very happy holiday maker going into dinner.

 

Had a great meal again and retired to Charlies to listen to music and chat with new found friends.

 

Thus ends day 5 onboard the Spirit.....

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Day 6, our first sea day.

 

Well, the day stared of nicely and the sun was shinning so we headed up to Raffles to get our breakfast and see how busy the ship would feel with all 2000 guests on board and looking for stuff to do. The restaurant was busy, but all food was replenished and fresh which was good to see.

 

After a hearty breakfast we went in search of the sun and set up next to the pool once again and had no trouble finding loungers at around 10.00am. I headed of to the Ping Pong tourney for 11.00am and was suprised to see over 20 people signed up or warming up ready to play (I play a bit at home so was looking forward to seeing the competiton).

 

The standard on the whole was higher than I thought with at least 12 people being to a good standard. I manage to win through to the final and clinch a tight match to be crowned champion for this event. Got my card signed up and headed of to have a shower in preperation for my first ever real life card tourney in a Casino......

 

So, I pay my $60 and take my seat at the table. There are 22 players in total (smaller than I thought it would be) and we get underway. Lots of people are rebuying straight away, but I resist the temptation and the game is underway. I will not bore you with the details, but 2 hours later I walk away from the table with $320 so am happy happy happy, as I did no re-buys or add ons and ended up in a tie for third place. (last 5 decided to split the pot) and I walked away from my first experience in a real casino tourney happy as Larry.

 

We wnet to Charlies for the progressive trivia once more and had great service from Victor and Cynthia once again. Due to my win we had a night of cocktails rather than the usual beers and the rest of the night went passed in a bit of a blur. I remember going to dinner and comming back, but the rest of the night was shall we say foggy :o

 

Anyway, so ends day 6 and off to Myknos tomorrow......

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review! Very interesting that you stayed on the ship each day. A very new perspective at least. I look forward to reading more!

 

 

Bonnieboo1, it would be great to read your report if you feel so inclined. I enjoyed reading your preparations on your roll call. :)

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Great review! Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself. :D Mercedes was our favorite in the dining room. I love the Spirit :)

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Day 7 and into Myknos we go

 

The captain advised that Myknos can be a little windy prior to us arriving there and decided we should be able to get in to port. Once there we had to have a tug boat all day with its engines running keeping the ship pushed up against the quayside as the 50mph winds where in danger of pushing us out to sea. He came on the tannoy and advised that a "collection box" will be left by the gangway to assist in paying the 12,000 euro bill for the tug (I said he had a sense of humor).

 

The stay in Myknos is only short as we have a long sail up to Istanbul for tomorrow and at 14.00 the captain once again announces that we are ready to set sail, he is waiting for the 4 chickens that are missing and as the wind was to high to leave at that point, he delayed departure till 15.00. Was a bit strange to then announce to hang on to something as they where about to let go the lines and the ship could lunge to the side :eek:.

 

We managed to get safely out of Myknos and head on to Istanbul.

 

Was another great day on board and the sun was out so up on the pool deck (despite the wind) and try to top up the tan. Met a nice couple whilest sun bathing and arranged to meet for dinner that night.

 

We had an evening in the casino after dinner then off to bed to prepare for our trip in to Istanbul......

 

Thus ends day 7.

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Day 8 and the sun is shining as we head in to the port at Istanbul.

 

We pull in between a very large (150 metre) private yacht and the Celebrity Equinox and as we are docking head up to Raffles for Breakfast.

 

On goes the ruck sack and........ we get of the ship, yes you heard it right, day 8 and we get off the ship. We head on down through the port and off on our own way to explore this wonderful city.

 

We get to the tram station and purchase 2 tokens for the tram (1 token equals 1 single continuous journey so ace value) and head up towards the Hajia Sofia and Blue Mosque. Being intrepid adventurers, we have no maps, no guides and just our wits to defend us. I point to Amanda and say, that must be the Blue Mosque lets go there first (as we where aware it would be closed during prayer time) and off we trot. After about a 10 minute walk we get to the Hajia Sofia, yes I know, a 50/50 chance and I got it wrong :) and we queue to go inside (be warned they only take Turkish Lyra and it is 25 per person to get in). We head inside this wonderful building and are instantly awestruck by the magnificance of the building. The marble on the floor is worn smooth by the passing of what must be millions of feet that cross its surface year after year.

 

We walk around for a good while then head out to a cafe to get some refreshment ready to tackle the Blue Mosque. We head on over and join a queue (we are British after all) to enter and find when we get to the front we are in the prayer queue, we slide of to the other entrance and make it inside with mins to spare before they close the entrance for Prayer time. We are ushered into the main hall of the mosque and are dumbstruck by the splendour and detail of the mosaic patterns and the beauty and serenity of the place. Well worth a visit (only takes about 20 mins inside) and we then head on out once again.

 

We head of towards the Grand Bazar and en-route come across a small shrine that has a fasinating story about Ahmed I and how his mother controlled Turkey by choosing when her children would ascend the throne and when there rule would come to a sudden and terminal end. She was ruthless that is for sure.

 

Anyway, we head back on to the Tram system and end up at the grand bazar. Now, my preconception here is that it would be a load of stalls all huddled together and a bit like a market........

 

Boy was I wrong, there are over 4000 shops employing 30,000 people and you could get anything at all there. The range was from top end diamonds and gold down to lots of underwear shops. A very bizarre bazar so to speak :p. We wandered down through the grand bazar and on into the spice bazar where it turned a lot more "rustic". It felt to me as if the grand bazar was for tourists and the spice bazar was for the local populace.

 

Anyway, time was passing and we where aware we needed to be heading on back to ship as we did not want to be the chickens left behind....

 

Back on board, we showered and changed and headed once again to Charlies where we entertained with music and lively banter intersperesed with a delicous evening meal.

 

We have decided to come back to Istanbul as 1 day was never going to be enough to see all this vibrant city has to offer.

 

Thus day 8 came to an end.

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Thank you for this review as we will be on the same next year in July. Was relieved that you clarified that this was your first time off the ship on day 8, was starting to wonder if this was just a review of the Spirit and not the ports lol.

Great info on Istanbul. Question about the tram tokens. I'll assume you purchased them at the station, how much where they and did you have to use Turkish Lyra to obtain these? Thanks, looking forward to the rest of the review.

 

cheers...the Ump...:D

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Umpy, I believe the tokens where 3 Turkish Lyra each and they are in a machine at every stop that has a language option for English.

 

Also, there are mini bar fridges in each cabin (at least we had one and where on 6th floor outside cabin)

 

As to the time on the ship is down to health issues so have to plan what we want to do and when.

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Interesting that you note the mini fridges in the cabins. Long overdue for this ship.

 

Based on your mentions of the Captain I would say it was Captain Lars Bengtsonn of Sweden. We have sailed with him 3 times and he is always very, very funny and loves all his chickens to come home to roost each night. If he loses any he updates on their whereabouts next day.

 

When we sailed on this itinerary in May/June there were a few issues concerning Greek immigration authorities, greek port authorities and other beauracrats that meant we missed Piraeus and went to Heraklion, Crete instead. You could tell the Capt. Lars was well and truly fed up over this.

 

As we started to approach Venice at the end of the trip our arrival was delayed as another boat was in our dock and needed to leave. We couldn't even enter the canal so just sat waiting at sea until we had clearance to proceed. He kept us well updated but sounded like he was ready to commit murder when he found out it was a greek ferry. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the bridge area when he found out that little gem of information. And he is usually such a chilled out Captain....

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Umpy, I believe the tokens where 3 Turkish Lyra each and they are in a machine at every stop that has a language option for English.

 

Also, there are mini bar fridges in each cabin (at least we had one and where on 6th floor outside cabin)

 

As to the time on the ship is down to health issues so have to plan what we want to do and when.

 

we had a fridge in our balcony cabin this July but that was because we requested it for my husbands medication.I dont think they are standard unless in a suite.Perhaps the fridge was left over from the previous occupant who had specifically requested it?

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Day 9 and of to Izmir

 

The sun was once again shining high in the sky and it was good to see as the batteries where running low and needed recharging after Istanbul. A light breakfast and of to the pool deck was in order.

 

Had what can only be described as a lazy day and by the early evening was once again feeling human. Headed of to Charlies for our usual Trivia and beer bucket then of to dinner at Windows.

 

We headed up to the Galaxy of the Stars after dinner for some cocktails and light entertainment. Think it was another round of the Karoke but can not be 100% sure.

 

short and sweet for day 9 and of to Pareus for day 10

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