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Anyone up for a LONG trip report from the Spirit?

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You have been warned!  This is a four part saga so if you have a cat to cuddle or plants to mind I won't be offended,  if you wander off at any point. But if you have nothing else to do please come along on our 20 day cruise on the refurbished Spirit.


The Norwegian Spirit Dubai to Cape Town 2nd March - 22nd March 2020 or  "All at Sea"



This cruise was not on the calendar. We had just completed a Christmas cruise out of Singapore on the Jade, visiting all the places which were the among the first to shut down over Covid 19 we were not in the market for another long-hall three week holiday but the price and itinerary were too good to miss. We always set ourselves a strict annual vacation budget and as this was a last minute trip we took an inside guarantee with the dining and drinks perks (booking under UK T&Cs). The total price for the cruise was less than $100 per person per night.


We were immediately allocated cabin 9193 a great location and very quiet. The only issue was it was a four person room so we had to work around the bunk bed but by day two we hardly noticed it, well it was on DH’s side so I didn’t notice it at all!). If we had had the beds separate it would have been easier but we didn’t get married (15 years last week) to sleep apart. Storage was fine for 20 nights for two people but if four people shared the room they would have to be light packers and well synchronised - it is NOT a big space.

The lighting was especially good much better than in our last ocean view room and the the inside cabin became absolutely the right choice for us, as sleep turned out to be a major pass-time for this itinerary.


The bathroom was great with a big shower which kept the steam in well, though leaked buckets though the bottom of the door - extra towels please! The steam retention properties of the shower were a mixed blessing; great that I could do my make up in a fog free mirror, whilst DH was showering not so great in that a mildew smell started to develop - we used a face towel to tie the door open during the day which helped a lot.


The ship was recently out of dry dock and there were certainly things which were not completed / done badly. Thankfully our loo worked the whole time which was not the case for every one. Shampoo and Shower gel dispensers appeared on day two and were filled on day three. When I unplugged my camera charger (responsible cruiser is me) the whole strip of sockets started to come away from the wall. The TV cable had no end on it just some wire. Our door became increasing hard to open and close and the maintenance guy took one look at it and said wrong hinges. Apparently the wrong sized hinges were used on lots of door - so he tracked down the right size and we had no more problems with rattling and stuck doors. Apologies to our neighbours as the fix took most of the day with much drilling and hammering. The roof on the outside eating area on deck 12 had to be reaffixed during the voyage and according one of the crew who normally worked  in the spinnaker lounge the ceiling came down there - the lounge was closed for 2 or 3 days.


Pictures of the new hull paint job and Spice H2O.






Edited by Catchum
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The Saga continues

Well…. are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin

Originally the itinerary was Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Muscat, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, Richards Bay, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and Cape Town. Then CV hit China and the headlines and we decided if we got on the ship then every thing else would be a bonus - 20 days with the person you love, the beverage package and someone else doing the cooking, cleaning and laundry (platinum status gave us two bags each for this trip as it was so long) seriously how bad could it be? Spoiler it was not bad at all.


The first change was even before we left home, Madagascar  was cancelled, probably due the the flooding that had recently hit an already poor country. It would have been cool to say we had been to Madagascar but not anything to get stressed about.


First port of call Abu Dhabi; originally the itinerary was to dock at 8am with all aboard 4.30pm and that was what was posed in the Freestyle Daily the night before. We awoke at 7am to find we were docked and the new all aboard time was 3.30pm. Obviously the distance from Dubai had shrunk overnight.  We caught the free shuttle bus to the mall then walked to the beach - lovely walk but not really sunbathing weather.


On to Fujairah - well although Dubai and Abi Dhabi had moved closer together there must have been road works and overnight diversions in the Arabian Gulf as our arrival time changed from 8am to 10am leaving and our NCL tour start time changed from 10 am to 12.15. Our guide was excellent and told us so much about the culture and political history of the country. What we saw was not so memorable except any one familiar with the only fools and horses chandelier episode could not fail to enjoy the great room in the Fujairah Museum. …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnhYzfg7ug4 .

In Muscat  for the first, and last time, everything was as planned and stress free, we had a excellent tour with a not so good guide which balanced out Fujairah I guess.

We settled in for four sea days which was not going to be a problem as we have done a couple of transatlantics . We established a routine, it was a tough one - the joy of an inside cabin is the ability to sleep in, DH is normally up by 6am but with no change in the light (night lights in cabin and bathroom) we slept till 9am. A couple of cups of coffee and a bit of TV news and we rolled out about 10.45 to walk 10 laps on deck 7 which took us to lunch, after lunch a hours reading or people watching at the Great Outdoors took us to the 2pm lecture or film followed by another 10 laps (7 miles total for the day). Then a glass of wine or four, dinner, the show and a little time in the casino which was wonderfully smoke free.


On day four at sea the announcement was made that the Seychelles government having shilled and sallied about accepting us finally made the decision that no cruise ships would be allowed in port. So four sea days became eight, a TA without the time changes, - thank heavens for our inside cabin. Instead of feeding giant tortoises we did another seven miles on deck seven. At least we were close enough to shore see what we were missing and the beaches looked amazing, but we consoled our selves with the thought that more than 10 minutes outside would have rendered us crispy critters. Speaking of which it was amazing to see people lying in the sun all day everyday whilst the ship was basically parked at the equator. They resembled a Cuprinol paint chart with shades from light oak to teak with the occasional redwood thrown in.


Another day brought another itinerary change no more cancelled ports (yet) but for some reason known only to Miami our time in Mauritius has increased - we arrive earlier and depart at the same time as planned but we will arrive much later in Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay. Neither of theses matters to us as we had no plan for Richards Bay and I used five minutes of our platinum internet to cancel our walking tour of Port Elizabeth with 100% refund. For many people these changes meant the cancellation of their safari excursions which would have been a high light of the trip. In recompense we were given a 50% refund (no sign of it yet) plus 75% FCC and $200 OBC. We spent our OBC on 2 Cruise next vouchers but for the first time in the cruise we saw a line at Starbucks, obviously no one thought their coffee was worth real money.  There were also long queues to book your next cruise - but we decided we really didn’t fell like booking anything at the moment.


Friday 13th what could go wrong? Well another itinerary change, we will be at Mauritius on the 16th not the 15th and Reunion on the 16th. If you are not following all the changes don’t worry we decided to look at the bow cam channel when we woke up and if we appeared to be in a port then check the navigation channel to see which one. Planning more than this seemed a waste of brain power. 


Pictures to prove we did get to the Seychelles - well we saw it. The navigation channel was the best way to see where were weren't




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We are still cruising if you are still reading


Well, breaking news we made it to Reunion, well, not exactly to Reunion but we stopped near by to allow a medical evacuation which was not unexpected as there had been a passenger code alpha the previous evening.


After this, it was confirmed that all of our ports were no go,  so now it is full steam ahead to Cape Town and a total of 16 consecutive sea days. The new question is will the South African Government let us dock and disembark? Day 16 saw rough seas, high winds, cloudy skies and general grumpiness as deck 7 was closed so no laps were possible and our routine was disrupted.


Another day (lost track by this point) another surprise - all guests received  a letter saying that we had to give our flight details to the ship to pass on the the authorities, and that everyone had to have flights home on the 22nd of March (the day we were due to arrive). We were planning to spend five days in Cape Town so for two days our programme of activities consists of queuing for the phone to change our flights, cancel our hotel and arrange for our car to be at the right place when we landed. Our Travel Agent gave us 3 options: Fly out on the 22nd in Business class for £4000 extra, fly on the 22nd with a different airline £1000 extra or fly in the 23rd for £550 extra. We went for the last option and thought heck if we spend the night at the airport so be it.


Later on, the South African government relented as it became clear it was not possible to get every one off the ground on the 22nd so those with flights on the 23 -25th were allowed to stay on the ship with what ever beverage package they had and no DSC charged!  


By this time two days of low level stress were beginning to take a bit of a toll and we were feeling less than thrilled with our final planned day on board. We made the effort to see the newly revamped “Elements” show which was amazing and made the world a happy place once more; well it did until 4.41am when the PA announcement bing bong noise came through on the room PA followed by a code alpha message relayed in the hall ways.  There was nearly a code Alpha for passenger in 9193 having a heart attack! Fortunately we had packed rum runners to store wine in the cabin - (not to bring it on board) so a large glass of wine reduced our heart rate and got us back to sleep.


At 7am the next morning disembarkation announcements started and those left on board settled down to enjoy a fairly empty ship. The last call was at 10.30am and immediately the final passengers had left another announcement was made that all those who did not have flights on the 23rd must have their bags out side their  cabins by 12noon to catch charter flights to Gatwick, Amsterdam and Miami and from there home on regular flights. Much panic and swift exits from the poll ensued but we were OK so far as we were leaving on the 23rd.


After a poor nights sleep we could not face our normal final day breakfast - (the only time we eat in a morning on a ship) and set off to Cape Town airport which is not a big place to spend six plus hours but we were in good company (each other) and were grateful to be going home. A we descended into Heathrow the captain announced that the UK had gone in to lock down over night and we might want to check the news to familiarise our selves with the restrictions. For us it was business a usual, though without anyone to cook and clean for us!


As usual the electronic passport gates did not recognise my UK passport but opened immediately for DH’s USA one, anyway I was entertained as I waited to be allowed back to the country by watching people wondering why the facial recognition at passport control didn’t let them though with their anti Covid 19 masks on!


Table Mountain from the ship and our favorite exercise spot - we walked 98 miles during the trip doing our laps.



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OK we are on the home straight now hold on

We had refuelled at sea and taken on six tenders of provisions whist off the coast of (probably) the Seychelles. With so many days still to go it was inevitable that some items would run out. The only real casualty as far as we were concerned was the reducing choices on the salad bar, bean and lentil based salads appeared and shredded vegetables replaced lettuce.


We had 8 meals in the speciality all of which were excellent. Onda by Scarpetta is the new Italian and the menu is confusing as it looks a bit like a regular Italian menu - antipasto, primo etc but pizza is served a a course not the main event and all the portions are large. Some dishes are designed to share but the menu does not mention this and not all the servers did either. The party at table next to us were upset at huge quantity of food they had ordered having no idea that each course so big.We enjoyed our second meal much more when we had got the hang of things.


There were some exceptional meals in the buffet with lots of jumbo shrimp dishes and so much salmon that eventually we got tired of it. The ribs were always melt in the mouth tender and the thin crust pizza was just how I like it. The two vegetables that there was a limitless supply of were  carrots and strangely asparagus which appeared at every meal. Due to the global situation all the restaurants removed condiments from the tables and the buffet was no longer self service but we never experienced a issue with being served.   


One of the first things to run short was the white wine (except for Moscato - no thank you) the choices became increasingly limited but the crew did their best and at one point all the small bottles from the staterooms were commandeered. Only on the last two days did I have to resort to red wine and I was assured that the Vodka supply (my fall back position) was good.   

Things we learnt from the cruise: We like shredded beetroot and lentil salad (not necessarily at the same time). If a cruise ship runs out of milk,  Baileys in coffee is more than acceptable. No one drinks Moscato. Being docked in Cape Town watching the cloud creep across Table Mountain is better than any TV- and, most importantly, spending 20 days in a luxury prison with the person you love is no hardship at all


If you have made it through the whole saga award yourself a gold star, and if you have been, thanks for reading.




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Thanks for the trip report and glad you made it home safe and sound. Can yo give your overall impression of the renovation of the ship? I'm assuming all those little items that weren't finished were being taken care of throughout your cruise? Oh what about the new Spa? Is the layout and amenities similar to NCL's newbuilds? 

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41 minutes ago, EllieinNJ said:

Great report.  Have you gotten any refunds back yet?


No sign of it yet and I'm not expecting if for weeks - but not looking to book another trip for a few months.

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4 minutes ago, kwokpot said:

Thanks for the trip report and glad you made it home safe and sound. Can yo give your overall impression of the renovation of the ship? I'm assuming all those little items that weren't finished were being taken care of throughout your cruise? Oh what about the new Spa? Is the layout and amenities similar to NCL's newbuilds? 


Sorry I can't answer about the spa we never got close to it. I loved the old Spirit and the renovations make it even better, Spice H2O is a wonderful space, on the "arms" at the aft on deck 11 there are comfortable chairs, The Local is a vast improvement on the cramped 24 hour place before and the casino is smoke free. There is a upstairs area for smokers which is glassed in. Not everyone liked the huge screen in the atrium, but it seemed to mostly have videos of flowers, beaches and waterfalls and I didn't have a problem with it.

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I'm confused.  You missed all kinds of ports, you missed Cape Town (great city by the way, the picture of Table Mountain had me reminiscing), they ran out of stuff on ship yet I don't see any complaining?  I don't get it.  


Great report, I enjoyed reading it.

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Thanks for that interesting report, and what a superb attitude you have....we should have been on the cancelled cruise following yours, and we had anticipated it so much! That said, we are just glad to be home right now and didn't have the trauma of flying to Cape Town simply to scramble and find a flight home again.

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Excellent trip report, glad you enjoyed the cruise even if it didn't stop where originally planned.


We were on the Jewel in the South Pacific at the same time as your cruise. We arrived at Honolulu (after ten consecutive sea days) about the time you reached Cape Town (our disembark started Mar 22, in a timezone 12 hours behind you).  Like you we enjoyed the cruise, sea days are fine, and it felt like the safest place in the world while we were on board.






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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

We too were on that Dubai to Cape Town cruise.  While you paint a lovely picture, some of us don’t see it quite that way.  Yes the sailing was fine.  If that’s all you wanted.  I’m not upset with NCL for us not getting into any ports.  We are terribly upset with the way the ship’s officers handled the entire situation.  The lack of information given to us at any given time, the seemingly non interest in the passengers concerns.  It is inexcusable.  They handled everything poorly from the ship to head office.  I am seriously re-thinking cruising with this particular cruise line again.  Don’t get me wrong, the regular crew were terrific and really tried to carry on like it was a normal cruise.  The entertainment was good and they really stepped up during the tough position they were in, they couldn’t get off either and ended up giving us multiple shows when they were only supposed to do 1 or 2.  But we are very disappointed in NCL themselves.   The 200 obc they gave really probably only covered our port charges that we paid so they aren’t doing us any favours.

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On 4/17/2020 at 10:49 AM, kwokpot said:

Thanks for the trip report and glad you made it home safe and sound. Can yo give your overall impression of the renovation of the ship? I'm assuming all those little items that weren't finished were being taken care of throughout your cruise? Oh what about the new Spa? Is the layout and amenities similar to NCL's newbuilds? 

I was on this cruise and did the spa, for three days only.  It is very small, very loud (one wall is a glass wall between the main pool area and the spa.) Needless to say it’s very loud in the spa so not very relaxing.  The staff also brought clients into the relaxing area to talk about treatments but in a loud booming voice as opposed to spa quiet.  The steam had a very powerfully strong odor and you couldn’t sit in it for more than 5 minutes.  So it is nothing like the new builds.  It is a converted old build.  One thing though it wasn’t busy the couple of days I went.  I did not enjoy it at all, couldn’t relax and got my money back.  I look forward to my spas on the cruises.  That’s one of the reasons I cruise and usually choose NCL as their newer spas are great.  Even the spa in ships like the Jade etc are great.  

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Thank you for the enjoyable & positive review!

I just read it today & it provided relief to our realities today...
We should have been cruising 03/15 -3/30/20 on Celebrity Eclipse Santiago (San Antonio) Chile to San Diego, CA.

However, it was not to be...

Hope you are staying Safe & Healthy!!

Cheers  --  Von


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  • 6 months later...

So @Catchum, you may be surprised that someone is still reading your entertaining review in December 2020, but with 3 cancelled cruises in my rear view mirror, I'm looking at what will hopefully be my return to sea on the Spirit in September 2021.  Thanks so much for the review!

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I enjoyed your review and your wonderful attitude.  I was scheduled to be on the following cruise out of Cape Town to Singapore.  It was the beginning of several planned trips  that were all canceled.  Now hoping that 2021 will allow us to begin to sail the seas again.

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