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cviolante

Review of the Spirit 7/3 to 7/10-Part 1

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Ours was a group of nine: 4 adults, and five kids, aged 16, 15, 12, 12, and 10. We were spread out in 3 cabins on deck 5: one outside and two inside. My wife and I hadn’t sailed on NCL since they switched to Freestyle, and we were anxious to try it out.

 

Day 1:

We boarded the Norwegian Spirit around noon on July 3rd. The process was very quick, especially since we were Latitude members. They took our picture right there at check in, and also took our credit card info. We checked out our cabins and headed to Raffles, the buffet, for lunch.

 

Based on what I had read here, I had very low expectations. I’m pleased to report that while the food certainly was not as good as found in the regular restaurants, I thought it was quite acceptable. There was a good variety, and it was generally presented nicely. So, either NCL has improved the food at Raffles, or I just have low standards. After that, we went back to our cabin, and found that our luggage was already there, so we unpacked. The cabins were relatively small, just as you would expect. The two inside cabins actually had berths for five: the two main beds, one berth that lowered from the ceiling, a chair that was actually a hide-a-bed, and a trundle bed under one of the main beds. The outside cabin was the same except no trundle bed. The rest of the cabin was unremarkable, except for the shower. It was by far the nicest shower I have ever had on a cruise ship. Large and very good water flow. Based on what we had heard about the hardness of the beds, we wanted to get the “egg crate” foam pads. However, our room steward never did introduce himself/herself to us. Finally, after dinner, we stopped someone in the hall by our cabin, and put in our request. Perhaps this is standard with NCL now, but this is the first time in 12 cruises that we didn’t know specifically who to ask if we had a request. Anyhow, we did get the pads, and the beds, while still firm, were fine.

 

We bought a couple Teen passports for around $37-$38. They are good for 20 smoothies and cans of pop. If you’ve got kids, they are fabulous. Highly recommended.

 

After the muster drill, we went up by the pool for the sail away party. A lot of singing by a live band, and a good amount of passenger participation. During the sail away party, a barbecue was served on deck. The line was long, so I didn’t partake, but the food looked good. The sun came out, and the overall experience was quite enjoyable. One slight negative: there was lots of staff trying to sell sail away drinks, which is fine. But more than once, after we said “no thank you”, the staff person continued to try and convince us to get one. I hate the “hard sell”.

 

We all ate together at Windows at around 6:30. Windows is the restaurant at the end of the ship: very nice ambience and consistently good food.

 

The show that night was rather weak, with a short presentation by the singers and dancers and a comedian juggler Steve Patient. We saw a lot of him throughout the week, and later shows were better, we thought.

 

Day 2:

At sea. A mostly sunny day, very enjoyable. The water was very smooth. There were not as many activities as the last time I sailed NCL (about 8 years ago), and a lot of the activities were designed to enhance on-board revenue (Bingo, spa stuff, etc.) We had lunch at the barbecue (found aft on deck 12 behind raffles). This is a real barbecue, with about 3-4 grills going. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, etc. Very good, and they seemed to have this every day.

 

Dinner that night was formal, and we all ate together again ate in Windows. This was my first exposure to what turned out to be my biggest complaint about the cruise: a nearly hour-long wait. Now, this was my first experience with Freestyle Cruising (but not with this type of seating—we sailed Princess a couple years ago and did Personal Choice). NCL says “eat when you want and with whom who want”. Unfortunately, for us, that was only if you wanted to eat before 6 or after 8:30. In addition, we had to eat with strangers at times to avoid a further wait. Now, I have no way of knowing if this issue was related only to the Norwegian Spirit, or is a common theme on all the NCL ships, or if other people were bothered by this. For us, however, this became a big deal, as the waits often messed up our plans for the evening. Granted, we could have gone earlier, but then that sort of defeats the whole purpose of Freestyle. Even on subsequent nights, when we were just looking for table for two or four, we still had a 15 to 30 minute wait.

 

The evening show was supposed to be a big production number but, due to some problem, one of the comedians, Bud Anderson, went on instead. He was very funny but, because we had to wait so long for dinner, we missed half his show. He did do a late night show later in the week that was also very good.

 

Day 3:

Ketchikan. Rain. Wind. Wet. Yuk. We got soaked walking around town, and then went to the lumberjack show. Kinda pricey ($29 for adults, ½ price for kids 12 and under) but a very good time. I highly recommend. Raffles for lunch, pretty good again, and we left port at 3:00.

 

The show was a big production number, but not as lavish as we were used to on other ships. Part of the reason seemed to be that the stage was not a large, as part of it was taken up by the band. One note here: the entrance to the show room from deck 7 brings you right in by the stage. If you’re late, then everyone, including those on stage, see you. The entrance from deck 8 brings you to the balcony.

 

The singers and dancers on the ship were not as polished as I’ve seen before, which brings me to my personal biggest disappointment: the last couple of times we sailed NCL, the Jean Ann Ryan Dance Company put on actual Broadway shows (shortened, of course). We saw Grease, Will Rogers Follies and Miss Saigon that way. We were looking forward to that level of shows. Unfortunately, it appears that this in one area that NCL has cut back on. I’m not trying to be critical; just expressing my disappointment. The shows are now just the same kind of “tributes” that everyone else has.

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Alaska is beautiful. it was one of the best cruises I have ever been on. Given some minor disapointments, it appears you had a good trip. Thanks for taking the time to let us know about your trip.

 

Carol

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