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Almost live from the NCL Spirit - Hawaii and Tahiti - 19 and 31 May 2022


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Posted (edited)
LauraS
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Yesterday we (Rob and Yanet) boarded the Norwegian Spirit in Honolulu, for a 24 day back-to-back voyage to French Polynesia (Tahiti) and back. This is only the second cruise of the Spirit since her restart on May 7th (the last Norwegian ship back in service).

 

I'm happy to (try to) answer any questions about the ship and the destinations, as we travel.  We've been on the Spirit before, in October 2019, before the refurbishment.

 

We arrived in Honolulu four days before embarkation, directly off a 35 day b2b2b on the Encore. It's going to be tempting to compare with that ship (and the Bliss, which we spent 37 days on in January and February) but I'll try to resist as they are a very different size and experience.

 

We got to the port around 10.30. Boarding was the usual current process of waiting to have vaccine cards and test results checked, with no separate queue or priority for any level of latitudes membership.   Once past that and security, there was a priority lane for latitudes which saved a little time.  We were given boarding group A so after a short wait, with entertainment provided by some Hawaiian musicians and dancers, we got on board by 11.30.
 
Lunch was in the Windows main dining room, service was excellent, providing a good first impression.  The decor in Windows, and really most of the ship, is however quite bland.  The elegant decor and beautiful Asian art of the pre-refurbishment Spirit has been replaced  with an inoffensive and boring look similar to a modern budget hotel - lots of mid brown laminates and cream. 

 

Our inside cabin was ready by the time we finished, with luggage already delivered. The amount of space to store things in the room seems less than we remember before, it's now as bad as the modern big ships.  No elegance or wow factor in the cabins for sure, bland again. 

 

There are 1100 passengers on this first leg.  Surprising, as there are very few people on the roll call or on another social media group. There wasn't enough interest for a meet and greet, which would be awkward anyway as this cruise has day five as the first sea day.  There are four port days in Hawaii, then four sea days, then four port days in French Polynesia.

 

That's enough for an intro!  I'll keep the next updates short, as things happen.  Questions welcome!

 

 

Edited by Rob_H
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2 hours ago, www3traveler said:

Do you know if they took the staircase out in the Spinnaker Lounge going down to the Bridge Viewing Room Window?


It’s gone. 
 

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Posted (edited)

We didn't plan very much for these cruises. At one time we were booked on four cruises on the Spirit in April and May this year but they were cancelled by NCL long ago, because Australia was shut. So we were doubtful these would happen.

 

By the time the Spirit restart got real with the ship leaving Singapore for Tahiti, we were busy on a cruise.

 

Which means we don't have a lot of tours booked, and there isn't a lot of availability. No worries, we're flexible and coming back again to each place on the May 31 sailing!

 

For Maui, we looked at the "on your own" bus trip to Lahaina, but it had sold out. So we walked up to the bus station and got a day pass for $4, bus every hour that takes one hour. More flexible than the tour! Lahaina is a small touristy town, nicer than where the ship docks.

 

There really isn't much available in each port, so we will have to try harder on booking stuff! Goes against our spur of the moment approach to ports, but needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Rob_H
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Just a few comments on the cabin and the renovation.

 

It's certainly nice to have modern things, but there's a lack of attention to detail. We do understand that many of the rooms have been hardly used since the renovation, so they're still being tested by guests.

 

As usual, we have an inside cabin (we'd rather cruise more than pay more, and this cruise is already at the upper end of our budget).

 

There's really no shelf space, just four shallow drawers and a wardrobe. Top cupboards (closets) are filled with life jackets. Wardrobe is one door that is full height drop, the other only half height.

 

The desk space has a shallow drawer. There are two european sockets, only one US socket, and two USB. There is also a USB each side of the bed, with room light switches and a small reading light.

 

Our beds were separate when we got to the room, when they were pushed together the  bulky chair in the room had only 100mm/4" left to get past it to the bed! We had to have the chair removed, simply didn't fit. Somebody didn't think when ordering them.

 

Other little things: there's a minibar fridge with glass door. It's just filled with three tall bottles of purchasable water. The fridge and the covering door are installed opposite ways round so hard to open! I suppose half the rooms have it right! Doesn't take much effort to ensure the doors are correct.

 

The bathroom sink has the tap (faucet) installed the wrong way round (red for cold, blue for hot). Silly little things but an indication of the lack of quality control on the renovation!

 

The room TV signal breaks up on all channels, even the bridgecam, most are unwatchable. Poor quality cable probably. Reported it at guest services in first night, checked next day, no record of my report so had to do it again.

 

Each time i had to queue up at the front desk, I tried calling them on the phone multiple times about this and other issues but the operator/guest services number is never (never) answered, even after letting it ring and ring...

 

To be fair, guest services appear to be very understaffed, and also many new people with limited training.  Not a big deal for us but completely failing to have anybody answering phones will make it hard for some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, www3traveler said:

Do you know if they took the staircase out in the Spinnaker Lounge going down to the Bridge Viewing Room Window?

 

It's gone, along with the ship's wheel that was there. Might not even be an observation room.

 

With 4 port days to start we haven't explored the ship much, I'll check more on our first sea day.

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8 hours ago, Phanatic08 said:

 Please comment on entertainment type of shows etc

 

The first four days are port days, so there's only one main theatre show, at 9pm.

 

First night was a magician, didn't go to that. Last night was the production company with "worldbeat". Excellent and very professional, especially considering it's only their second performance of it in front of guests.

 

It's a comedy illusionist tonight, we were eating instead as we got back late (it's an overnight port).

 

The theater is fine, modern lighting and good sound. However, a couple of rows of loose armchairs have been placed in front of the first row of real seats. The people in them push them back, making the first row of seats unusable. I don't know what the purpose of that was, but the result is a net loss of seats so a few people can have armchairs.

 

There are also some cabaret style shows in the spinnaker lounge, and music in the atrium, but really with ports we haven't been to much yet.

 

Maybe there will be two shows on the sea days.

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We didn't manage to book anything for this port, the overnight in Kauai. 

 

But we still had a great day. In the morning walked round to and spent time in the Marriott resorts, then walked  to the lagoons and on to the lighthouse, good view  (also a good view of planes coming into the airport). 

 

Called an Uber to get us back to the ship for $10. Took the Uber a while to find us down the dirt roads, but it saved us a long walk back!

 

The Uber driver recommended Poipu Beach, so over lunch on the ship we worked out how to get there. Uber would be $40 each way.

 

Google Transit (the "train" option on Google Maps directions) gave us a better option by bus. A bit complex with three buses but it all went smooth and we got there for $3 each (a $2 main bus and two 50c connections).  Saw lots of great countryside and a few towns and villages on the way.

 

We spent a couple of hours there, saw turtles in the shallow pool and rocks. Nice place, quite busy as it's a saturday evening. Towards sunset we headed home, again by bus.  So nice to have an overnight and not need to rush!

 

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Rob, thanks for starting this thread and guiding me here. We are super excited about our 5/31 cruise and flying out on the 26th late night flight to west coast. Would like to know a few things- 

1. Do you notice any food shortages as reported by someone during the previous trip?

2. is the ship as well as the passengers following any covid precautions (masking, not crowding the elevators, etc)?

3. Are the pools, hot tubs, buffets, elevators, and other public places crowded? You may know more about this during the sea days.

4. how do you like the food so far? Where to get the best pizza in a non-specialty eatery?

5. how is the wifi on the ship?

6. Are you noticing any crew shortages in other areas (other than the guest services you mentioned)?

7. Are there any electrical outlets in the bathroom?

 

I know many would comment that if we are concerned about covid, we shouldn’t be on a cruise ship - but this is our first vacation in years and also happens to be at our dream location and having been double boosted we thought we might be able to dodge the bullet with a little caution. After reading some of the experiences on these forums and number of positive cases, we are realizing now that we may have underestimated the risk. However we want to still go ahead and enjoy the trip to the best we can. Thanks again for patiently providing all the information.

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Hi Rob,

 

We were on the Bliss Panama cruise from Miami to LA with you guys.  Glad to see that you are still out there cruising!

 

My husband has a question - how's the casino on the ship.  He won a free cruise from Casinos at Sea and we are looking at booking an Alaskan cruise on the Spirit.  We haven't been on any of the smaller ships so just wanting some feedback before we book the cruise.

 

Thanks!

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21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

1. Do you notice any food shortages as reported by someone during the previous trip?

 

No, but it's hard to see what isn't there. 🙂  The main dining room has a menu which seems normal and complete, basically identical to other ships.  Buffet (garden cafe) is small but they manage to pack a lot of choices into it.  They reprovisioned very well in Honolulu, sailiaway was late there because there was so much to load!  

 

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

2. is the ship as well as the passengers following any covid precautions (masking, not crowding the elevators, etc)?

 

Like all the cruises we've been on in April and May, there's not a lot of covid precautions by passengers, most are behaving as if it's 2019 (including us, although we do make some effort to keep away from crowds). No restrictions on elevators or social distancing. Venues use every seat.

 

Crew are wearing masks at all times, but only a minority of passengers. Similar to most parts of the world on land.  To be clear, wearing a mask at all times on board is seen as normal behavior but it's really not that many people.

 

Not very reassuring I know, but that's the reality. We got our 4th dose (second booster) shortly before this cruise and are working on the basis that anything we catch will almost certainly be mild.  There are plenty of health risks in travel (especially mosquito-bourne diseases) that we accept the risk for.  For us, this is another risk that we've decided to accept.  Otherwise we'd always be home.   

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

 

3. Are the pools, hot tubs, buffets, elevators, and other public places crowded? You may know more about this during the sea days.

 

You're right it's hard to tell yet with just port days so far.  Buffet isn't packed, and the great thing about these smaller ships is the amount of outdoor tables available, no need to ever eat indoors at the buffet on a warm weather cruise like this.

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

4. how do you like the food so far? Where to get the best pizza in a non-specialty eatery?

 

Not a pizza eater, but it's always on at the Garden Cafe.  Don't think it's anywhere else, so that make it the best. 🙂 

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

5. how is the wifi on the ship?

 

Norwegian wifi is the same as usual, close to useless, I woudn't pay for it.  We have some free minutes but since there are so many port days I'm mostly using mobile data (Google Fi).

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

6. Are you noticing any crew shortages in other areas (other than the guest services you mentioned)?

 

In the main dining room on the second day the servers were having a hard time keeping up.  That's not unusual at the beginning of a cruise when so many are in training and meetings (happens every time), so it should improve.  There seems to be enough housekeeping staff, they are excellent.

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

7. Are there any electrical outlets in the bathroom?

 

There's a two pin shaver socket in the ceiling by the mirror.  I wouldn't use it for anything else.  In case anybody asks, yes each room does have a hair dryer. 

 

21 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

 

 However we want to still go ahead and enjoy the trip to the best we can. Thanks again for patiently providing all the information.

 

We were in a (closed) Australia for nearly two years during covid, safe and in a bubble.  When the border finally opened (last November) we had to make the decision, do we venture out or essentially stay home forever?  We made the decision to continue travelling while we can, but it's a personal choice.

 

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43 minutes ago, CaliMom05 said:

We were on the Bliss Panama cruise from Miami to LA with you guys.  Glad to see that you are still out there cruising!

 

Yes, catching up on a couple of missed years!

 

43 minutes ago, CaliMom05 said:

 

My husband has a question - how's the casino on the ship. 

 

I'll look at it on a sea day (or maybe hear it - it's above our room).  The inital freestyle dailies said the casino was closed "for the remainder of the cruise", a left over from the previous cruise I presume.  That has since been corrected to say it'll open tomorrow night, after we leave US waters.

 

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48 minutes ago, New2cruse2 said:

Rob, thanks for starting this thread and guiding me here. We are super excited about our 5/31 cruise and flying out on the 26th late night flight to west coast. Would like to know a few things- 

1. Do you notice any food shortages as reported by someone during the previous trip?

2. is the ship as well as the passengers following any covid precautions (masking, not crowding the elevators, etc)?

3. Are the pools, hot tubs, buffets, elevators, and other public places crowded? You may know more about this during the sea days.

4. how do you like the food so far? Where to get the best pizza in a non-specialty eatery?

5. how is the wifi on the ship?

6. Are you noticing any crew shortages in other areas (other than the guest services you mentioned)?

7. Are there any electrical outlets in the bathroom?

 

I know many would comment that if we are concerned about covid, we shouldn’t be on a cruise ship - but this is our first vacation in years and also happens to be at our dream location and having been double boosted we thought we might be able to dodge the bullet with a little caution. After reading some of the experiences on these forums and number of positive cases, we are realizing now that we may have underestimated the risk. However we want to still go ahead and enjoy the trip to the best we can. Thanks again for patiently providing all the information.

Hi new2cruise2 

I'm also on the same cruise as Rob

Unlike Rob we have a balcony cabin which has no problem storing our 4 suite cases.

This is just my observation others may differ

1)no food shortage 

2)the staff are pretty much the only ones observing covid concerns if I were to guess other than all staff only about 5% (being generous) of passengers are wearing masks. Staff now require hand washing before entering the buffets, most passengers do NOT follow any distance. Elevators are not that crowded with only 1100 passengers on board

3) so far I have only noticed the line up for the nightly shs to be crowded and no sense of organization, restaurants are easly entered and specialty dining is come at reservation time and get right in and they don't seem to be over crowded.

4) food has been awesome in my opinion both buffets and specialty dining

5) saving wifi time for at sea days

6) like Rob said customer service was a little slow, keeping in mind they are trying to make some guests happy with some pertinent questions then like always there are some that complain about everything wasting there time. I did notice they had 5 people working the cruise next counter while only having 2 working the customer service.

7) yes one electrical outlet that says for shavers only

Everyone has an opinion these are just mine.

 

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Posted (edited)

are you taking pics they  would be nice to see. everything. also pictures from your excursions would also help with info on them. Where there any luaus avail on the overnight stop? also would you advise doing a beach day in maui?

Edited by coopster
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Rob & NCL4EVER, Thanks a lot for taking the time from your vacation to answer all my questions in such a detail. Very helpful. Truly appreciate it. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the cruise.

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6 hours ago, coopster said:

are you taking pics they  would be nice to see. everything. also pictures from your excursions would also help with info on them. Where there any luaus avail on the overnight stop? also would you advise doing a beach day in maui?

We did the wailea beach resort in Maui nice and was allowed to use all the amenities of the resort except the pool

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We ate in Le Bistro tonight.  Excellent service and food.

 

There are only four speciality restaurants on the Spirit: Le Bistro, Cagneys, Onda, and Teppenyaki. Latitudes vouchers are valid in all except Teppenyaki.

 

We had a couple of reasons to call Guest Services today and they are now answering the phones! And quickly. The TV got fixed, after I reported it for the third time on day three. Another ongoing problem we had got resolved today as well.

 

We booked a tour for Moorea, one of the few available, using the app.  For the first time ever, the price charged to our account was automatically adjusted to include the Diamond discount.  Even the Encore and Bliss can't manage that yet, they have a manual process at the end of the cruise to adjust.  Great to see after all these years we don't have to visit or call the shorex desk to get the discount applied!

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