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mitotoup

Fantastic Spirit - 10/19-29/2006

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My family and I just returned from our cruise on the NCL Spirit, 10/19-29/2006 and we had a fantastic time. To tell you the truth, my husband and I were very nervous about taking this trip due to a lot of negative comments that we read on the boards. However, I am not sure what ship these people were talking about, because we did not experience any of the problems that other cruisers on the spirit talked about. Such as rude employees, dirty ship or bad food. In fact we experienced the complete opposite, friendly helpful employees, a clean and well maintained ship and delicious food. My husband and I are pretty experienced cruisers. I have been on 10 cruises and my husband on 8 cruises. We have traveled on other NCL lines, Carnival, RCCL and Celebrity and we feel this was one of our best. I will outline our trip and give my experience while traveling the spirit.

 

EMBARKATION: We live in Maryland so we drove up to New York in the morning. We travel with our two daughters. One is 3 years old and the other is 10 months. The trip was uneventful and no trouble with traffic or other.. Thank god for portable DVD's... We arrived at the pier around noonish, dropped off our luggage with porter, tipped and off to parking. There was ample parking. Parking is pricey at $180 for the trip but still a lot cheaper than flying/shuttles.. After we parked, we walked in and got directed to a very long line. The nice lady allowed us to bypass the line because we had strollers with little kids and we were latitude members. So we got into a very latitude line. Checked in, received key cards, bypassed the pictures and we were on board. This whole process did not take more than 30 minutes. We did not carry much on board so we did not have to go to our rooms and drop anything off. Remember rooms are not available until 2:00 pm. We took the suggestions of many to make reservations to the restaurants first. So that is what we did. However, we were at a disadvantage because we could not view any of the main restaurants menus because we were told that this was the first itinerary that would be receiving new menus. In fact all of NCL lines will be receiving new menus.. So we had to guess when to make the reservations. It turned out that we picked good days because the main dining menus on those days were not as exciting as other days. We did find that it is not really necessary to make the reservations first, because later in the week we looked at the main dining menu and it did not really appeal to us and we decided to try Cagney's and got a reservation for the same day. Then we browsed the ship, checked on the kids camp, ate lunch in Windows and finally went to our room. All of our luggage was at our room by 2:00 pm.

 

ROOM: We were a little upset that this ship only offered inside cabins for 4 people but it turned out to be okay. I do like my balcony. We were in room 10129 and it was of decent size for a cruise cabin. We had the cabin steward remove the chair and ottoman from the room. He did it with a smile and no problem. This opened the room a lot. We were able to put the crib in the corner. We used the two lower beds and a trundle so nobody had to get on the bunk. Beds were fine and lots of pillows. Some complained the beds were hard. I did not find that my bed was hard but they do offer egg crates if you want the bed a little softer. There are four drawers and several shelves in the closet and there was ample room for us 4 to unpack all of our belongings. Remember I had a 10 month old so had to take a lot of extra clothes because she is just started to eat people food so she is very messy and there was plenty of space. Lots of hangars for hang up clothes. There is a safe at the bottom of the closet and it was very assessible. The bathroom on this ship was the best. The shower had a sliding glass door rather than a curtain that always sticks to your behind. Lots of room in the shower and great water pressure and temperature. They offer soap and shampoo in a dispenser but I always bring my own. The toilet and sink were fine. There was plenty of shelves for our toiletries. The only thing bad about the room was the electrical outlets. There is only 1 110V outlet and it basically does nothing. So I took the advice of another suggestion on the boards and brought voltage converters to 220V. It basically blew my own hairdryer. Not to fret, go up to Cleopatras in ths salon and there are hairdryers for passenger use for free. So I got dressed for dinner and then went up to the salon and did my hair. However if you need a hot flat iron or curling iron you could probably convert and have no problem. Room was always clean and turned down in the evenings.

 

PUBLIC ROOMS/SHIP: All of the rooms were nice. I enjoyed that there was no smoking in the Galaxy of the Stars, the stardust and the sports bar next to Blue Lagoon. I hate smoking so I did not go into many of the bars. The casino was small but had the normal gaming tables and lot of slots. My husband played Carribean stud and I played blackjack. I lost he won so we broke even. The ship was really nicely decorated with the asian appeal and no glitzy lights which was really nice. There were always people cleaning the public areas so the ship always looked nice and the upkeep of the ship has been good. The ship does not look worn at all and is in good shape. The layout is really easy and most everything is either on deck 7 or 8 and remember your colors. The aft of the ship has blue carpet, midship has green carpet and the forward of the ship has red carpet. So if you remember your colors you will always know where you are on the ship. This helps alot.

 

ENTERTAINMENT: I cant really speak about this because with a 10 month old we did not get to see much. We saw one show and that was enough. The sound was terrible and singers/dancers were not as good as other ships. We did see Second City in the Galaxy of the Stars and they were funny, but that was the extent of nightly shows.

 

PORTS: We have visited all of the islands, except Tortola and Antigua in other cruises so we knew what to expect. If you hit St. Thomas on a Sunday, which we did, all of the shops close at 1:00 pm. So we did little on this island other than my husband bought me a beautiful diamond anniversay ring from one of our favorite jewelry stores on the island (Ballerina Jewelers). We walked back from town to the ship (approx 3 miles). It was easier than getting a cab with two kids and strollers. Great walk!!! Barbados is our least favorite island so cant tell you much. Antigua was great.. We went to Dickinson Bay by ourselves ($20 cab for 4) no cost for the beach but $20 for 2 chairs and an umbrella. The water was beautiful and very calm. We enjoyed our time at the beach. Town was small and not much to do. St. Marteen was the same. We went to Orient Beach (Approx $20 for 4 for the cab) no cost to the beach, 2 chairs and umbrella $15. The beach was nice but remember it is french and clothing is optional. The water was so rough that I did not let my children into the water. It wiped us out and put my 3 year old under water and that was enough. Baby was forbidden to go into the water. Tortola looked beautiful but too short of a visit so we basically walked around the small town. Did not go to the baths because you have to swim into the beach and I cant swim with both children and my husband is not a good enough swimmer to carry one of the children. So we will do it another time when we have more time.

 

SERVICE: I found the service to be great. Nobody was rude and they were extremely accommodating to my children and to us all of the time. The only slow service was in the main dining room for breakfast. I will talk food in a minute. We decided to tip our waiter separately so we removed some tips from the account and the front desk person was very accommodating. If you want to reduce your tips, they have you fill out a paper decribing why you want to reduce the tips. But they have no problem with it and very accommodating. However, check your statement to make sure that they did the reduction. Our statement reflected the request. Waiters, room stewards and bartenders were all very accommodating and always smiling. So I am not sure why others complained about the service. Maybe the crew was having a bad week but they were great on our ship.

 

KIDS CAMP: Wow!! What can I say... It was absolutely fantastic. The counselors and the activities planned were out of this world. My daughter (3 yo) absolutely loved the camp. She never stopped talking about the counselors, her friends the entire time. She always wanted to be there. She is still talking about the camp and we are home... The counselors keep the children busy and they are always having fun. Wait for the pirates to take over the ship!! The kids were absolutely adorable!!! If you have kids, I highly recommend that you enroll them in the camp.

 

POOL: We never went to the Tivoli pool so I cant comment on this. We stayed at the kids pool in the back of the boat. Plenty of chairs. The water slides were fun and adults can slide also. But remember the pool is shallow so pick up your feet. Pool temperature is great 84 degrees. They also have a baby wading pool which was great for my baby. She could play and sit with no problem. When other kids were in the pool, they were respectful of the babies. All of the kids were well behaved and no trouble. However, they do not allow any diapers or swimmers in the pool. They would rather the babies to urinate in the water then contained in the diaper/swimmer. You may think this is gross but really, urine is sterile and the water is constantly filtered and the water is changed daily, so it really is not a hazard. Swimmers/diaper contain gels and irresponsible parents do not change their children correctly so other stuff could be in the diaper/swimmer which could cause problems. Basically, I would put my daughter in for 15-20 minutes and then remove her, put her diaper on and then later put her back in the water. She is pretty regular so I did not have to worry about other accidents.

 

SALON/GYM: Salon normal treatments offered, overpriced and did not do any treatments. The people in the salon were nice. The gym was great. I work out a lot so I was happy. They had 6 ellipticals, 8 treadmills, a few bikes, free weights, nautilus machines, bands, balls and mats. Pretty well equipped. I like the fact that all cardio machines have their own TV's, just bring your own headphones.

 

FOOD: Last but not least, food... I think this is the main reason people cruise is to eat. And let me tell you this is what these people did on this cruise. The food was great. One little tip, parents, there is a childrens menu available in the main dining rooms so you don't have to try to decide on the exotic food for the kids. Normal children food available. They also don't charge for children 3 and under in the specialty restaurants. Age may be higher but I know they were not going to charge my oldest daughter if she came with us. We ate in the buffet, main dining and the specialty restaurants. First, Raffles... Its a buffet. It had adequate food, good variety and it was always well stocked. The food was hot as it should be or cold if it was to be cold. Breakfast had normal breakfast items. There was a waffle station and according to my husband they were excellent. There was an omelet station and they were good. I had an egg white omelet and it was good. The scrambled eggs are powdered and they did not look great but my husband and children at them. I don't eat egg yolks so I did not eat them. I pretty much stuck to the fresh fruit and oatmeal for breakfast. The fruit was very sweet and fresh everyday!! Lunch in raffles had a sandwich bar which was good but my favorite was the stir fry station.. The food was fresh and you pick your items and then they stir fry it for you. I asked for no oil and they did it.. It was excellent. There is a pasta station. I did not have it but it did look very good. My daughter ate dinner in Raffles each night and the food looked good and a good variety.

 

WINDOWS: We ate several dinners here and it was very good every time we ate in here. The menus have changed and I am sorry but I do not have copies of them. But they offered, steak, duck, lobster, shrimp/lobster ravioli, rack of lamb, beef wellington, mushroom risotto, turkey and many other new entrees. Desserts were good from creme brulee to bananas foster.. We had a wonderful waiter every night we requested him.. He is Dragisa from Serbia.. He remembers your name and all your likes and dislikes. Highly recommend.. One other thing to mention on is this ship has the best bread I have ever had.. Always fresh and great tasting.

 

SHOGUN/SUSHI: Again new menu... They did away with ala carte sushi.. It is now all you can eat for $12.50. I am a sushi eater so this was good for me.. The sushi was excellent. My hubby ate at shogun and he said the food was good.

 

LE BISTRO: Again new menu... I don' t think the entrees are as good as the old menu, but were still good. I had the duck and my hubby had tenderloin and we both enjoyed. Escargot were fabulous and the goat cheese tart was great. The mushroom soup was excellent. The only thing to remember is that they did away with the chocolate fondue. I know is upsetting but the other dessets were fabulous (chocolate dessert and the creme brulee)

 

CAGNEY'S: Great!!! I had veal chop and it was fantastic. I did not like the cream spinach. It had a funky taste but my own opinion. My hubby did not like it either...

 

BLUE LAGOON: The food here was very good. We had the chicken wings, fried rice, cheeseburgers, hot dogs. All were great. I however do not recommend the won ton soup. I thought it tasted like dish water. The tomato soup was fair. You have to sit and order at the restauant but can take the food to go. They will pack to go for you if you wish. You can also eat and order in the bar next to the blue lagoon.

 

HENRY'S PUB: My husband had the fish and chips but said it was not worth the wait.

 

The two things that were missing on this ship that I wish they had were pizza and soft service ice cream. They have ice cream but its hard ice cream and that's not my favorite. The only pizza available on the ship is on the kids menu in the main dining room and it was okay. I tasted when my daughter came to the dining room.

 

DISEMBARKATION: Well the last day was horrible at sea. We hit 20ft swells and the boat rocked a lot. Needless to say we were late arriving into New York and then late getting cleared. We did not take express check out as you have to take your own luggage off the ship. that was not happening with two kids. We finally got off the ship, collected our luggage (no problems) found a porter, through customs and off to our car. On the road all happened in about 30 minutes.

 

I can only give you my perspective of the cruise. Take all my opinions as such, opinions.. Have a great time on your vacation because that is what it is a vacation.. No work and no cleaning or dishes.... If you have any questions, I will try to answer them at mitotoup@aol.com...

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The only thing to remember is that they did away with the chocolate fondue.

 

 

Say it isn't so:eek:!!!!!

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Thank you so much for your review. My sister and I are on the Spirit in February without the husbands - girls only cruise. I am so glad to know that you can use the hair dryers at the Salon - that's one less thing to pack.

 

Disappointed that they did away with the chocolate fondue at Le Bistro - now I'm not sure I even want to bother going there. That was what I was looking forward to.

 

One question - have they brought back the cold fruit soups at dinner time? I think I could order 2 or 3 bowls and make dinner out of that.

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Yes, each night they have a different cold fruit soup. I do not really recommend the avocado soup. It wasn't bad it was really different. So you may want to try it if you lke to try different things. Le Bistro is still worth it in my opinion. The food was really good but if chocolate is what you want the chocolate dessert was very good according to my husband who is a huge chocolate eater...

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Thanks for the great review! I was on the Spirit last March and also had a great time. I was wondering if you used the sauna and showers next to the gym. I have been reading about extra charges for the lap pools at the spa on other ships. We will be doing a girls cruise in Feb. and have sometimes had to use the showers in the gym area when in a hurry to get ready. Do you know if I will have to pay to use those showers? If you or anyone knows please respond. Also is there a charge to use the gym?

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Thanks so much for that great review! My boyfriend and his family are planning to go in May and we were unsure about it....until cruisecritic.com and your review! Thank you for helping others like myself out to choosing the perfect vacation!!

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Great review, and I give you lots of credit travling with a 10 month old. Glad you had a good time, do they still have the chocoholics buffet thing? Thanks, Cathi

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Yes they still have the chocoholics buffet. they changed the time so it was at night on our cruise. It was at 11:30 pm instead of the daytime. I did not go as I am not a chocolate eater but I heard that it was pretty good.

 

There is no charge to use the gym on the ship. They also do not charge to use the shower, sauna or steam room. However I suggest not using the steam room. I think I picked up something and was sick for two days. I think it was mold because if the steam room is not sanitized correctly mold will be a problem. I don't know if there is a charge to use the aquaswim as I did not use it but I did see others using it. I also did not see on the salon price list a charge for it.

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Thanks for taking the time to post a review. I am printing it out to read later as I'm off for work right now. Glad I checked the board before I left! LOL

 

One week from today I will be boarding the Spirit.

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Yes, each night they have a different cold fruit soup. I do not really recommend the avocado soup. It wasn't bad it was really different. So you may want to try it if you lke to try different things. Le Bistro is still worth it in my opinion. The food was really good but if chocolate is what you want the chocolate dessert was very good according to my husband who is a huge chocolate eater...

 

I am so glad these are back! Maybe I will take your suggestion and try Le Bistro and have the chocolate dessert.

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Hi!

 

Did anyone find there to be accessible and inexpensive Internet Cafes in the Spirit's Ports?

 

The ship is so expensive...I spent mere euros in European ports checking my email instead of big bucks on the ship.

 

Posting this on a couple of threads...

 

Howard

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LE BISTRO: The only thing to remember is that they did away with the chocolate fondue. I know is upsetting but the other dessets were fabulous (chocolate dessert and the creme brulee)

 

 

 

Thank you so much for the review. What a disappointment. My son loved the chocolate fondue. Personally, I enjoyed the lemon tart but the fondue presentation was absolutely beautiful. I also enjoyed my entree which was surf & turf. Do they still offer filet mignon and lobster tails?

 

Tami

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The only pizza available on the Spirit is from room service.

 

Which is exactly how pizza tastes best, with a delivery just like at home.

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Thanks for the great review! I was on the Spirit last March and also had a great time. I was wondering if you used the sauna and showers next to the gym. I have been reading about extra charges for the lap pools at the spa on other ships. We will be doing a girls cruise in Feb. and have sometimes had to use the showers in the gym area when in a hurry to get ready. Do you know if I will have to pay to use those showers? If you or anyone knows please respond. Also is there a charge to use the gym?

 

No charge for the gym.

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Yes they still have the chocoholics buffet. they changed the time so it was at night on our cruise. It was at 11:30 pm instead of the daytime. I did not go as I am not a chocolate eater but I heard that it was pretty good.

 

There is no charge to use the gym on the ship. They also do not charge to use the shower, sauna or steam room. However I suggest not using the steam room. I think I picked up something and was sick for two days. I think it was mold because if the steam room is not sanitized correctly mold will be a problem. I don't know if there is a charge to use the aquaswim as I did not use it but I did see others using it. I also did not see on the salon price list a charge for it.

 

No charge to use the acqua swim - it was great so do use it.

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