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12 Day Grand Mediterranean Review on the Norwegian Spirit


nolatravelgirl
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Part 30

The next day was a Sea Day so it was nice to know that we didn’t have a huge overscheduled day so we decided to make a fun night of it.

 

After showering and getting ready for the evening we went to Champagne Charlie’s for a pre-dinner drink and some piano sing along. She was really a lot of fun and had laminated cards with all her songs.

 

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Dinner tonight was in Cagney’s. Cagney’s is your typical steakhouse with some other grilled meats. If you are looking for simply cooked good meats then this is your place. This was our second time in Cagney’s so I decided to try something different than a traditional steak and ordered the lamb chops. I do love lamb and it was cooked perfectly. Jenidallas had the wings as an appetizer and they were beautifully prepared as well.

 

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Thoroughly stuffed we headed up to Galaxy of the Stars. They had the “Dance Like a Norwegian” game that night where passengers were paired up with some of the cruise staff for a “Dancing with the Stars” type show. The game was less than 30 minutes and the band played right after so GOTS was crowded this night. This was definitely the place to be!

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Part 31

Today was FINALLY a sea day! I was so excited to not have to prepare for a day of touring. Unfortunately for us this was also the day where we had to set our clocks forward. Since this was the first sea day it also meant that it was Meet & Greet party day with our fellow cruise critic members. The M&G was scheduled for 10am which felt like 9am when combined with jet lag 4 prior days of full schedule days made it seem REALLY early. Seeing as jenidallas and I were the organizers of this event there was no way we could sleep in. We both put our swimsuits on with a sundress over top and packed our pool bags and headed down to Henry’s Pub for the M&G.

 

We got there about 15 minutes early and the group services director was present and they were putting out a nice spread. The bar inside Henry’s wasn’t yet serving but the coffee bar “The Café” is open and will make you a mimosa if you need one.

 

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We had about 25 people at the Meet & Greet. There were probably 15 officers and senior crew at the event including the captain. If you have interest ins meeting any of the officers this is the event to attend!

 

The M&G was winding down so we grabbed our beach bags and headed up to the pool deck. I had read tons about how finding a spot on a Sea Day was impossible and the chair hogs would be out in full force, but again we didn’t have issue finding two loungers that suited our needs.

 

It was getting close to lunch time so we decided to just eat on the pool deck. I was really impressed with how NCL was able to handle the lunch crowd today. Knowing that everyone was on the ship and most people were relaxing they had a serious spread all over the ship including the main inside buffet restaurant fully open along with a German buffet on Deck 13 outdoors, BBQ lunch out by the Tivoli pool and another smaller buffet on Deck 12 aft. There were plenty of choices.

 

Chicken jambalaya on the pool deck

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Salads on the pool deck

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Fresh cooked meats and veggies on the pool deck. There was a big grill set up behind and they were cooking in small batches then placing them in the dishes

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Part 32

 

It was getting hot on the pool deck and we decided to head indoors and dropped into “Galaxy of The Stars” for the “Majority Rules” game show. We were originally going to just play as our own team but instead decided to play with a newlywed couple sitting near us. I was glad we did that as part of the game required one team member to run up with the team’s answer sheet. We let the newlyweds do all the running.

 

I forgot to mention this yesterday but we had an insert for a “stuff a bag” laundry special in our room. I think this is a great bargain and that bag is BIG! Seabourn does something similar but the charge is $50 and the bag is smaller. The Seabourn folks all make this big deal about the laundry coming back nicely folded in a wicker basket. Seeing as this was half the cost of Seabourn and the bag was bigger I was worried that I was just going to get an unfolded bag of clean clothes back. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I received a lovely basket of folded clothes back. Everything was clean, neatly folded and didn’t look any worse for the wear.

 

Here is my bag which was not full. If I had known the bags were so big I would have likely packed differently

 

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Here is my returned basket

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TIP: Hands down this bag is TOTALLY WORTH IT! I had to think hard about spending $50 for doing laundry on Seabourn, but I can totally say that it is worth it to do it on NCL for $19.95. The 12 night Med is a long cruise so while it is only the 5th day you are likely 7 days in because of travel time so this is a good time to do it!

 

Tonight was “Norwegian Night Out” which meant some people were dressed up this evening. The dress was still pretty casual, but you saw way less shorts and some people dressed more formally. I didn’t see any tuxedos and very few ties. I did like that the staff all wore “Night Out” shirts all day which built up anticipation for the evening to come.

 

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Ooooh Nooo, I'm caught up again!! I am completely enthralled with following your adventure. Hubs and I will be on the Spirit in 3 short weeks. Loving all the fascinating details missing in most posts (toilets, personal needs, etc) Did you have any issues disembarking to find your tour groups? Can't wait for the next installment...

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Ooooh Nooo, I'm caught up again!! I am completely enthralled with following your adventure. Hubs and I will be on the Spirit in 3 short weeks. Loving all the fascinating details missing in most posts (toilets, personal needs, etc) Did you have any issues disembarking to find your tour groups? Can't wait for the next installment...
I try to note things that I hope people would find interesting and haven't been documented ad nauseum in other reviews.

 

We had no problems finding our tour groups. When you walk out of the port there will be a group of guides all holding signs with the tour company name and/or the last name of the person who booked the tour.

 

I hope to have more up this weekend when I am not completely overwhelmed with work.

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Part 33

By this point I was thoroughly relaxed from a day at sea. I had a slow morning/afternoon following the Meet &Greet where I used the evening to rest and relax. My cabin mate jenidallas was having to draft her fantasy football team so this left me alone for dinner. I decided to try the complimentary Asian restaurant. I showed up and was immediately shown to a table.

 

TIP: Check to see what other restaurants outside of the MDR are complimentary!

 

I checked out the menu and was initially drawn to the main menu items but decided to focus on the appetizers. I started with an a la carte sushi roll. It was good, but not OMG good. How about saying “good” for “ship food”

 

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I then ordered the corn soup and the dumplings/pot stickers. They were just okay. The dumplings tasted like they were steamed too long before being pan fried. The filling inside was tasty though.

 

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The portions for the mains are not the ginormous portions you would get at your Chinese restaurant back home. I didn’t order any but I did sneak a photo of the table next to me.

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Full from dinner I ordered a drink to go and headed to the Stardust Theater for the show. It wasn’t crowded and I made my way to a comfortable aisle seat about half way up in the theater. It was a compilation of music and dance from around the world. The aerialist was quite good and the dancing was good, but I had issue with the singing, not because they couldn’t sing but there was something wrong with the pre-recorded soundtrack that was accompaniment to the four featured singers. I am not sure if it was a sound mixing problem or something else but the singers could barely be heard. It know it isn’t because the singers couldn’t sing since the following night we were at Champagne Charlie’s and one of the male singers did a duet with Patricia and his voice was stunning!

 

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With regard to Norwegian night out dress code. This is definitely a lot more casual than anything seen on Seabourn. I saw a few men with jackets on and many of the women were in fun dresses, but I don’t think I saw any formal wear at all. I would not feel compelled to bring formal wear for this line at all. I was worried that people would be really sloppy and it would be a mess of beer shirts and surfer shorts. For the most part people were nicely dressed. Even those who were wearing shorts in the evening were wearing nice longish khaki shorts or something along the lines of evening resort casual.

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Even though it is easy to meet your tour company, the issue is if someone in your party is delayed you have no way on checking their status.

If you meet on board, and have cabin numbers, you can get in contact if required. Meeting about 15 minutes prior to departure should not be a problem.

I tried to get our RIL tour groups to meet at Henry's Pub so we could all walk off together and it went over like a lead balloon as no one paid attention and still went directly to the tour van. Oh well. It worked fine for us.
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I am so loving this review! Question about the laundry - will they wash underwear & socks or just shirts/pants etc? I don't know how comfortable I would be handing over my dirty underwear anyway, but I am curious because it's a long cruise.

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I am so loving this review! Question about the laundry - will they wash underwear & socks or just shirts/pants etc? I don't know how comfortable I would be handing over my dirty underwear anyway, but I am curious because it's a long cruise.

Yes they will wash underwear and socks. One of the main things I needed washed was undies! They put these itty bitty sticky tags on every garment to identify the bag that it belongs to. I don't sweat the small stuff of who sees my undies. :D I did not send out my bras in the wash as I didn't trust them to wash them with as much care as I would so that was the only item that I hand washed in the sink.

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Is there a limit on how many Euros their ATM's will allow, or are you constrained by the exchange rate conversion of your bank.

For example $1000 USA bank allowance, converts to lets say 850 Euros. Will you be allowed the 850, or held to a lesser amount regardless of what your bank allows..

Edited by Fastfredcruise
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I am really enjoying your review. You have given some very good tips. Thanks for the info about the Rick Steves app, other people have mentioned listening to his audio podcasts, but I never knew how to get them.

 

We sail from Venice on this ship on Sept 30, so I'm hoping you get to what you did in Istanbul. Others have said it is easy to do on your own, so we plan to ride tram to historical sights, and walk from there. If you have any helpful hints, I would so appreciate it. Hopefully you will get to that installment before we leave next Friday to fly to Rome.:D:D

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Is there a limit on how many Euros their ATM's will allow, or are you constrained by the exchange rate conversion of your bank.

For example $1000 USA bank allowance, converts to lets say 850 Euros. Will you be allowed the 850, or held to a lesser amount regardless of what your bank allows..

I don't know what the max at the ATM was but I didn't feel comfortable carrying all my eggs in one basket so I got Euros out twice on this cruise. I first got 300 in Barcelona and then an additional 300 in Rome. I probably paid a bit more in fees but I felt more comfortable doing it this way. The ATM definitely had higher withdraw limits than what I withdrew.

 

I am really enjoying your review. You have given some very good tips. Thanks for the info about the Rick Steves app, other people have mentioned listening to his audio podcasts, but I never knew how to get them.

 

We sail from Venice on this ship on Sept 30, so I'm hoping you get to what you did in Istanbul. Others have said it is easy to do on your own, so we plan to ride tram to historical sights, and walk from there. If you have any helpful hints, I would so appreciate it. Hopefully you will get to that installment before we leave next Friday to fly to Rome.:D:D

I will try to get to Istanbul very soon. It is a city that I have visited several times, but as you have read the tram is ridiculously easy to use and costs 4 TL one way per person. You exit the cruise ship terminal and can go either right or left. The stop to the right is closer but the stop to the left isn't too far either. There is an ATM near both on the other side of the street. Regardless of which stop you start you want to heading to the LEFT when you exit the port terminal and get off at Sultanhemant. After that just follow the crowds and you will be right by the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Edited by nolatravelgirl
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I will try to get to Istanbul very soon. It is a city that I have visited several times, but as you have read the tram is ridiculously easy to use and costs 4 TL one way per person. You exit the cruise ship terminal and can go either right or left. The stop to the right is closer but the stop to the left isn't too far either. There is an ATM near both on the other side of the street. Regardless of which stop you start you want to heading to the LEFT when you exit the port terminal and get off at Sultanhemant. After that just follow the crowds and you will be right by the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.

 

Thanks so much!

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Again, a wonderful review. Thank you.

 

For those interested in the laundry special, if I remember correctly from when I was on the Spirit for a nine-day Canary Island/Morocco cruise in November 2013, they offered the laundry special twice. I used the first, not realizing they would offer it again a few days later. It didn't matter that much to me, so I didn't bother asking whether they would offer it again.

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These sites provide a lot of information for those who want to do Istanbul by yourself. I think they accept Euros, probably not at the best conversion rate, but you should have limited expenses at the two Turkey stops.

 

I liked the 1 day tour. Site has comprehensive information.

 

http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/1day.asp

 

Another site with good coverage, and maps.

 

http://www.istanbultrails.com/2009/02/map-with-tourist-attractions-in-the-historical-part-of-istanbul/

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Part 34

 

Day 7

Mykonos, Greece

Port Time 7:00am 3:00pm

 

Wow I can’t believe we are already speeding along and half way through the cruise. We did not have a planned activity for today and the awkward early port time made it challenging. This was the only port where we tendered in. I was worried that it would take forever to get off the boat but was pleased that the tender operation in Mykonos was quite good. We did not use ship emergency rafts but instead the port provided the tenders and there were plenty running. There was a constant flow of boats and as soon as one had filled there was another one right there waiting to be filled, so they were offloading people as quickly as possible.

 

Inside the tender boat

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Our ship anchored offshore

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We didn’t wake up too early so we made it to land about 9:30am and didn’t have any other plan but to walk around and soak up the sun. There were a million little souvenir shops along the way so I picked up a few postcards to write out when we stumbled across this cute little crepe restaurant. Originally I was going to order breakfast but then decided to order the gyros crepe which was to die for yummy. I give this a major two thumbs up!

 

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This is the restaurant

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After devouring my breakfast gyro I wrote out my postcards. I went to purchase stamps and it was WAY cheaper to buy postcard stamps in Greece. If I had known that I would have held off and sent more cards from Greece. I want to say it was a little more than a Euro for an international postcard stamp. The stamps I bought in Italy were 2.20€.

 

This brings up another point that I later found out. In Italy I bought a few postcards from vendors and they had me drop my cards in this yellow postcard box in their shops. It all sounds super convenient but in reality it is some sort of private company that ships the cards to local post offices. The GPS cards that I sent took the longest to get home and didn’t have the fun postmark. Be wary if someone sells you stamps like this in Italy.

 

http://www.globepostalservice.com/stamp-gps/

 

TIP: send postcards from Greece where postage is a lot cheaper.

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These sites provide a lot of information for those who want to do Istanbul by yourself. I think they accept Euros, probably not at the best conversion rate, but you should have limited expenses at the two Turkey stops.

 

I liked the 1 day tour. Site has comprehensive information.

 

http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/1day.asp

 

Another site with good coverage, and maps.

 

http://www.istanbultrails.com/2009/02/map-with-tourist-attractions-in-the-historical-part-of-istanbul/

 

Thanks for the information!

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TIP: you must have your shoulders and knees covered to enter the Sistine Chapel

 

There were mobs of people at the entrance but we followed Karin inside who went through another line and bypassed the crowd. She parked us on a bench and she went and collected our tickets with the vouchers. Normally I hate the “stick people” aka the guides who lead people around attractions holding up a stick so the sheeple don’t get lost. This was one place where even just a small group of 8, like we were, really needed a stick.

 

The Vatican complex is a maze and everywhere you look are amazing works of art. It was art overload. We dutifully followed the stick as Karin pointed out amazing things at every turn.

 

The hall of statues. There were probably a thousand statues and busts

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With more amazing ceilings

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We kept dutifully following the stick when we finally headed down a stair case that would lead us to the Sistine Chapel. Karin was not allowed to talk to us in the Chapel so before entering she had pulled out a poster and had pointed out the scenes and items of note. We were led in and Karin gave us a meeting spot to meet when were done looking. I once again popped in my Rick Steves audio guide and listened to the commentary. Technically you aren’t supposed to take photos but I did take one photo without flash. Needless to say I don’t recommend doing that as your pictures will be pretty crummy anyway. The other thing you are not supposed to do is talk but lots of people were incredibly rude and kept talking like they were at a rock concert.

 

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Next up St. Peter’s Basilica!

 

 

 

This is an interesting tidbit about the No Photos No Videos in the Sistine Chapel: http://mentalfloss.com/article/54641/reason-why-no-photography-allowed-sistine-chapel

 

 

Here's the one I took anyway. :p

 

 

p><p>and here

 

 

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Stephen

 

 

.

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Part 35

 

In my mind I had this picture of strolling along cute little shops amongst all the narrow streets. What I didn’t know is that there were 4 other ships in port and so I would be strolling the streets with 10,000 other cruise ship passengers. There wasn’t much we could do but grin and bear it. We didn’t stray far from the old part of town and just strolled around in the little shops.

 

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TIP: If you forgot to pack your white outfit for the White Hot Party later in the cruise this is the port to buy it!

 

I didn’t but anything substantial other than this little painting that was 20€.

 

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Take some advice from me and consider the size of your souvenirs. I went to Bali back in 2005 and thought it would be “awesome” to buy a big painting of a Buddha. I then kept looking for the best one and kept saying BIGGER since they all looked so small in the gallery. I finally ended up with one that was great. They cut it out of the frame and then put it in a cylinder so I could carry it home. I managed to make it home with it but I since learned that I don’t need ginormous art from each vacation spot! Here is a comparison of the two.

 

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Part 36

 

We were done shopping so we decided to see what else we could find with a nice view of the water where we may be able to find some adult beverages. We didn’t have to walk far and found this little gem

 

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This was very close to our stop from the morning but we were very satisfied with our selections including the carafe of wine for 11€.

 

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We had a couple of skewers as well and it was all quite tasty. Overall I was again pleased with our food choices. While sitting there I managed to snap this photo which was a rare moment when there wasn’t a mob of people walking by, but the thing I find most interesting about this photo is the painting of the stones on the floor. The sidewalk area is made out of stone but every restaurant paints on these stones with big white borders.

 

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It was getting close to 2pm so we decided to join the tender boat line. I think we waited about 20 minutes which I didn’t think was awful. We decided to sit in the open air seating on the back deck which gave us a nice final view of the coast.

 

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Next up is our night at the Chef’s Table!

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Part 37

 

I was a little bummed that we had an early “all aboard” in Mykonos but I was also okay with it since we were going to be enjoying the Chef’s Table this evening. We came on board and decided to take a little nap so we would be at our best for dinner. It was not a “dress up or not night” but I did decide to put on a cute black dress, fun necklace and a pair of heels to make the night feel more special. When we joined our other Chef’s Table participants it looked like they too decided to knock it up just a smidge.

 

Per our instructions we were to meet at Champagne Charlie’s for our pre dinner drinks. There was a reserved section where we were served a lovely rose champagne

 

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After that we were escorted to the stairs for a group picture. I found this to be a bit odd since most likely the majority of the participants did not know each other and would likely not want a photo together. I was happy to smile along so all was okay!

 

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Afterwards we were escorted to a private dining room within Cagney’s which was set up for our party of 8. We were asked about food and dietary restrictions and then the show started. Our menu was as follows

 

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Shortly after we were seated the chef came around for a second round of photos. They took our photos and the food started arriving! The pictures were delivered to us at the end of the meal as part of the package.

 

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The table setting

 

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