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taalman5@sbcglobal.net

Spirit just back "cold hard facts" LONG

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We were on the spirit from Seattle to Alaska 7/23-30. Let me start by saying we had an incredible time and would go again in a heartbeat! Of Course nothing is perfect and I think if I knew some problems beforehand it would have helped. I will try and tell you good and bad that I had not read on the board before: The drink card: I bought one for my 10 year old and I guess it is a pretty good deal for $16, which includes tip, it is a wristband he wears and that is convenient - the part I wish I was warned about was that you can only get reg and diet coke and reg and diet sprite. The boat serves root bear, ginger ale etc, but they are not included in the wristband (and I asked more than 1 bartender to be sure) I am glad I did not get an adult one, for around $42 it is not worth it. Also they can't get soda for all the hours they are in kids club. The rooms have a great layout and plenty of storage, but bring extra hangers. The showers are huge, the hairdryer is shaped like a vacuum cleaner, the end is an oval - don't bring any kind of attachment for the end of the dryer - it will not fit. The two free sit down restaurants have the exact same food - that was kind of disappointing and some times a soup or entree is also served in the buffet, so your options are really limited on those nights. My best tip that I wish I knew is that the food options and quality increase each day. The only bad day I would say was the first. That was troubling - we got on the boat and went straight to the buffet - it was disgusting (luckily I gave it another shot, because other days it was really good, especially breakfast), the first night we ate at the garden and the food was ok, but not amazing. If I could do it again - I would do a specialty restaurant the first night. Later in the week we decided we would look at windows/garden menu and if it wasn't great we would do a specialy restaurant, but the menu was so enticing each night after the first 1 or 2, that we never made it to a specialty. Don't waste your time doing breakfast in windows or garden, it is the same food as in raffles, the buffet. The only extra I saw was a fish starter. The food was hotter, but I was hoping for something special like stuffed french toast, but the menu was the exact same and you have to wait. The show was also disappointing the first night - we walked out, we gave it another chance the last night I felt it was better. The individual music at the small bars really are great - try and catch some of those. Don't be fooled by the "tricks of a tighter tummy" it is actually a sales pitch. We did ask for shrimp cocktail each night at windows and got it - thanks cruise critics, we also got cappucino all the time for free. The coffee otherwise is disgusting - there is a coffee maker in each room and they put creamer and sugar twice a day if I went again I would bring my own coffee and small filters. Absolutely loved kids club, My 10 year old boy would have stayed 24/7 and my 3 year old cried at first, they gave me a beeper, so I would know if he got uncontrollable, they were great with him. There are hand sanitizing gels by every restaurant, by kids clulb, by health club etc. It was a very clean ship. I never wore sandals ( and we all live in them in chicago) and never wore shorts, I wish I had brought more long sleeves and sweatshirts. I had a jacket, a sweater, 2 sweat shirts and 1 long sleeve tee for each child, it was so cold - even our day in Seattle, we probably could have had the rest in long sleeve instead of all our short sleeves. I thought Seattle would be hot and maybe the first day or two until we reach Alaska - don't count on it. We really intended on swimming - we are from Chicago - but it was freezing, even the day we boarded. Each day in port it did eventually warm up so we unlayered, it was forcasted for 55-61, but felt like 70, but only for a short time. Loved the ports: Ketchikan - float plane with michelle Island Wings - can't describe so amazing, Juneau whale watch and Mendenhall - wonderful, Skagway - rented a car and went to emerald lake - My husband and I were in awe, the kids did not appreciate as much as we would have liked and there were some pretty scary corners to take in the car - maybe I would do train next time. We ate at the cinnamon bun place - she was out of cinnamon buns, but she has the best chicken noodle soup and enormous sandwiches 1 can serve 4 people, but her prices are very high, $8 for 1 sandwich and $5 for bowl of soup. My other complaint about the spirit was that there was not enough kid food, only in the buffet. I think it is only at dinner, because we ate our first lunch in the buffet and it was hard because there was no kid food. Later for dinners the kids have their own section with ckkn nuggets and pizza. Never found chicken noodle soup on board. The little bars that serve food like blue lagoon - has wanton soup, but you can get a burger or hot dog and the german place has burgers and like a lentil soup, so if your child does not like burgers you can get pizza only from room service and it is not chicago standard at all! So eat lunch in the windows or garden they did have a really nice kids menu, but they have to be willing to wait. Last warning: Galaxy of stars was a nice indoor place to watch Sawyer glacier, but pay attention left side is smoking a lot and right side is smoke free - took us an hour to notice that. Again I hope I don't sound too negative, we did love it and you will too, but now you will know what to avoid.

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Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate the update on the soda card as we were thinking of one for our younger son and had no idea it was so limiting. It didn't sound too negative, was helpful. We are actually leaving from the other side of the continent so might be warmer, but will definitely pack some clothes for cooler temps as well as warm.

 

Glad you enjoyed and that the kids loved Kids Crew. Welcome Back :)

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Thanks for a nice review of your cruise.

We will be on the Spirit in September to Alaska too.

We will probably be doing most of our sightseeing from the upper decks, or the Galaxy of the Stars since we have booked inside cabins.

Thanks for the heads up about the smoking section.

Overall, it sounds like you had a great trip - with some disappointments in the food department.

That is a tricky one, isn't it - so many choices, and so many people to please. I am so happy to know about the free cappucino - love that!!

Were you impressed with the ship and the crew.

I didn't feel your review was too negative - just very honest.

By adding that you would do it again in a heartbeat, that says it all.

Great!!

Thanks again and happy cruising in the future.

SailAways :)

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Please........please..........paragraphs:eek: I would have liked to read your review but I just couldn`t...........my eyes got crossed.

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and enormous sandwiches 1 can serve 4 people, but her prices are very high, $8 for 1 sandwich

 

That sounds cheap to me!! :confused:

 

Thanks for the honest review! :)

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Thank you for the review! We are heading for the Spirit in 24 days:D .

 

I have a few questions for you, if you don't mind:) .

 

I was looking over some of the copies of the Freestyle Dailies and I wondered what people did for dinner on Tuesday (Juneau/Sawyer Glacier). Seems like you aren't out of the Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier area until after 9pm. I don't want to miss the best views of the trip to eat dinner inside. Do they serve any food outdoors (barbeque, Biergarten, etc)? What do you recommend?

 

I also wanted to ask you for some more insight on the Kid's Crew 2-5 age group. Was there a counselor that your 3 year old related to best, or that helped him to make the adjustment? I have high hopes for some time to myself this cruise, and that is greatly dependent on whether the little one takes to Kid's Crew. She wasn't too enamored of it last time:o . She is kind of the quiet-type. Did they follow the schedule pretty well, as far as "Sponge-Bob morning", Teddy Bear Picnic, treasure hunt/campfire night, etc? I plan to use the schedule to entice her to go (Everything sounds so FUN!), but I don't want to rely on that too heavily if they don't, in fact, have the promised activity at the appointed time. Not a huge deal, but I'm trying to give this my best shot!

 

Did you have a Cruise Critic meeting? Was there a "Murder Mystery Dinner" on your cruise? Was the "everyone gets a makeover" event similar to the "tricks to a tighter tummy" presentation? I appreciate your comments, as I don't want to waste a minute!:p

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I am going on the Spirit to Alaska in Sept. How do you get copies of the dailies? This will be my first cruise, so I was just wondering what they were like.

Thanks,

Deb

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Hi debsmouse,

 

Try: www.cruiseclues.com Then click on the link a the top towards the right that says Daily Programs. Then scroll down to Spirit. hope this helps, I have loved this website and looking over the different daily programs. And they have menus and drink prices too. hope this helps, have a great cruise!!

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Thank you for your review.

 

 

We are going on the Spirit 8/20 and had planned to get each of our kids the soda card. But after reading about only having two types of soda (Coke & Sprite) I will be bringing soda aboard.

 

In "my opinion" that's just a HUGE rip-off. I was willing to go for the card, and have been in some heated discussion on this board about the dreaded soda card program.

 

Now... can anyone explain why the kids can't get a draft root beer ?

 

Or any type of draft soda.... why only coke or sprite?

 

Man... I've got to stop typing now because I'm starting to bang too hard on the keys. This one upsets me. What's next.... $35 for a "water" card ?

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I was on the Spirit July 16 - 23. I wouldn't worry about missing something in Tracy Arm. While all of it is scenic that last bit on the way back is not that big of a deal. Not too mention it is the same view in as out unless your viewing from a cabin. My wife and I had an outside cabin with a balcony. I would suggest this for anyone cruising to Alaska. If for no other reason than having the ability to sit on your own deck with room service food enjoying the scenery. Especially in Tracy Arm.

 

We did not take the kids so I can't comment on what that is like. I thought the food was fine. Unless your picky or uppity the food will satisfy. Keep in mind the Spirit was originally in Asia with a very Asian theme. The food and decor sticks to that to a point. We had good luck as far as food went. The buffet is a buffet. You can't expect perfection.

 

I was impressed with the crew. All went out of their way to help. I never had one bad experience with any of the crew.

 

Most impressive was the debarkation on the last day. It was amazing how organized and how fast we got off the ship once our group was called.

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I will try and respond to all the questions, or you can email me taalman5@sbcglobal.net

 

The crew was all wonderful, their answer was always "no worries madame". I would not worry about dinner while cruising the Sawyer glacier. Go early when it begins, we were also inside cabin, so we went to the Galaxy. After a couple of hours of tracy arm, we finally saw the glacier, but could not get very close because of so much ice floating. The view out is the same as the way in, so after watching the beautiful scenery until about 6:30 we took the kids to the buffet and then kids club, and then ate at windows and asked for a window seat. There is no need to watch as intently as in galaxy until 9pm. I did not find any of the outside food appetizing.

 

The kids really do stick to their schedule. I was not able to ask for 1 specific counselor, but they don't give up on the cryers right away. By the end of the cruise any of the 3 year olds that had cried in the beginning had stopped.

 

There was a murder mystery, I think you sign up on Sat night and it runs Mon night, I was scheduled but got strep throat and had to miss it.

 

I also skipped the makeover because I assumed it would be the same as tummy class.

 

Regarding the sandwich being expensive, to clarify, most people would order 1 per person and it would end up being so expensive to leave so much waste because they are so big. The table next to us had maybe 6 people, they ordered 6 sandwiches @ $8 ea, 6 soups $5 each, 6 drinks 6 rolls = huge bill, with about 4 sandwiches left on the table - that's about $32 waste plus tip and tax.

 

I agree with the disembark - it was a dream, but beware of Kethcikan very long wait to reembark.

 

Hope this helps. Have a great trip and don't give up on the kids club, try again each day even if it is not the full 3 hours at first.

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Thank you guys very much for the insights!!:)

 

It sounds like either as the ship heads into Tracey Arm or after leaving Sawyer glacier would both be good times to plan to eat.

 

Sightseeing Tracy Arm one way and viewing the glacier will be great!

 

Sorry to hear you got strep throat, Taalman:o . Hope it didn't keep you down too much!

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Hi, I understood that the temperature outside is quite cold as since I am leving on 08/27 I assume it will be a little bit colder. What I wanted to ask you is what the temperature is like inside the ship, if half sleeve shirts and sandals are goood for dinner time, or if you want something warmer.

 

Thanks

 

Katya

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You can wear sandals and short sleeves, but I would bring a sweater or wrap. I don't really remember being cold inside, but we were so lucky to have 6 whales surrounding us, slapping the water with their tales - everyone ran outside to get the best look and you would be freezing with the wind. Also on certain levels to get from aft to forward you have to go outside, now you can go down in the elevator, cross inside and than elevator back up, but that is time consuming. You only have to run along side the pool, it is not a long way, but still you may want a sweater. Before I went I read someone's post that said they felt silly in Lily Pulitzer, I did not really understand until I was there. Since it is basically on the cool side spring or fall clothes feel right, you just don't even feel appropriate wearing summer clothes, even inside.

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Can you tell me about the comment that the left side was smoking and the right side was non-smoking? Does this apply to the balconies as well? I wasn't asked for a preference when I booked my cabins on the left side. Please help since I'm a non-smoker and would not want to be on the side with all the smoke.

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Without having been on the Spirit it might be hard to picture the Galaxy smoking vs. non-smoking until you actually see it. To help first picture the fact that the Galaxy is at Deck 12 forward at the very front of the deck.

 

The Galaxy is set up like you basic club with the stage and dance floor in front with tables/chairs spreading out from the dance floor.

 

There is a glass wall that starts at the entrance doors (both sides) and completes a half circle around the Galaxy. The walls are about 6'-8' give or take from the outside windows. In this area there are various chairs, etc. to sit and enjoy the view, read, talk, whatever. The catch is within this small area it is smoking. Inside the club proper it is non-smoking.

 

The down side of course is if you want to sit in one of these chairs and read you have to deal with the constant smoke which to me was a pain. I did not see a separation of right side left side. I sat on both.

 

However, in reading the post from the other person the whole rightside/left side separation might have been only for the time in Tracy Arm. They may be able to answer this. I did not go to the Galaxy during the cruise through Tracy Arm as we had an outside cabin. BTW I would recommend an outside cabin to anyone doing this particular cruise if of course it is at all financially feasible.

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Nw 2...thank you for the clarification that the smoking vs non-smoking was for the Galaxy and not necessarily the rooms/balconies. I misread the OP's comment. Appreciate it.

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Just returned from the same sailing -- a few more notes...

 

Based on others' recommendations on this board we took the Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier ship excursion. Great decision and highly recommend it -- do a search on the topic for specifics.

 

Blew it and missed the planned CC mtg. Did make use of the pre-boarding lounge opportunity kindly arranged by a fellow CC cruiser. Didn't meet anyone there though. The refreshments were nice, but the best part was the quiet environment.

 

My sister and BIL attended the "Murder Mystery Dinner", and as noted above, signed up quickly. They really enjoyed it!

 

Their 6 yr old enjoyed Kids Club thoroughly. Their 12 yr old wanted to join Teen Club but couldn't and attended Kids Club rarely. My 16 yr old attended a few of the Teen Club activities, but thought most of the attendees were 13 and 14 yr olds.

 

Another tip from this board: purchase a 'teen' passport (it's a booklet of coupons that you tear out and present to the bartender), which is something like $30 for 20 non-alcholic drinks (not sure of the exact $ or count). The best 'deal' is the smoothie (not a full sized-one), but it's also good for sodas and floats. We bought one - a teen doesn't have to be present (we did have 2, but they weren't the primary users of the 'passport'). I 'ordered' a couple of smoothies and I haven't been a teenager for decades.

 

The Galaxy of the Stars is really nice early in the morning. The ship is calm, and quiet and you can enjoy the passing scenery. Later in the day it gets used for Bingo, trivia, and other large (noisy) group activities. There's a spiral staircase leading down to a room that contains the plaques the ship received upon its first trip to many (many) ports. There are some photos of its being built in drydock also. And you can often see the captain's bridge. When we went there wasn't much activity to see (only 2 people in the room). I imagine when/if there is more activity the curtain would be drawn.

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I was also on the spirit on the same days as the orginal poster..I agreed the food is not so great. Breakfast is okay. The beds were comfy..I was comfortable outside most of the time with just a t-shirt. But I am from Seattle. I thought it was sort of muggy inside the ship. I think Princess is a better line. Mystery dinner was real fun. But yes, get in line fast to sign up.

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:confused: Could you tell me a little more about the Murder Mystery Dinner. Is it in a specialty restaurant? Is there a charge for this. We are going next year with our grown children ages 19-24 and that sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks!!

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Debsmouse and Mom :)

 

As a first time cruiser myself have been only too happy to find the oodles of info on the internet, this board and that site included. Course happy to share any "finds" of mine with others. Hope you enjoy your first cruise, Alaska is on my must see list, now if only they cruised from Boston to Alaska :P

Have fun!

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The soda card policy on most of the NCL ships aren't limited to coca-cola and sprite exclusively, as they are on the Spirit.

Again we must remember that the Spirit was designed to operate in Asian seas. In Asian ports, soda pops are delivered in small cans and bottles, not so in America. In American ports, soda pops are delivered in huge pressurized tanks where the soda pops are dispensed using bartender's taps or wands.

Hasn't anyone but I noticed the bartenders on the Spirit laboring all day and all night without the wands or taps? Opening and mixing every drink like you would at home, straight out of the soda cans and liquor bottles.

 

Hopefully, this will be another modification performed during the Spirits long dry dock this fall.

 

Of course, most NCL ships provide their bartenders with dispensing taps. And like most American restaurants, you're limited on what sodas are available from the taps, or dispensing machines. I'm having a difficult time seeing root beer being dispensed at a bar. But then again, I would expect root beer to be available at a self serve dispensing machine.

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Yep - no soda gun anywhere on the Spirit. We asked a bartender about day 2, why everytime we asked for a soda, we got a warm can opened to a glass of ice and learned the mystery - not a soda gun to be found on the Spirit. They don't have room for a huge inventory of soda cans so they only offer coke/dietcoke/sprite. I don't know if soda dispensers/guns will be added during the Spirit drydock but it would sure help the staff and make the pax happy if they do. Happy Sailing!

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Enjoyed your honest review. As for the food the first day, maybe it's cause they are getting people on and off, but after 18 cruises we have always found the food the first day not to be up to par with other days. Food is so subjective, although we don't think it as good as in years past (I don't care what line) we still think it's better than our neighborhood hang out and we don't have to fix it. LOL

 

NMNIta

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