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seaventurer

Spirit Shines- 5nite Review Long

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Returned from the Spirit's first 5 night cruise from Miami yesterday - Belize and Roatan. I cruise monthly - or just about and checked today - 12 cruises since last October so I'm on target.

 

This was my FIRST real NCL cruise. Real, defined as experiencing today's NCL as opposed to sailing on the Leeward in 1999 - a sweet small ship but a temporary fleetmate. The Spirit and NCL were a real departure for me as I have only cruised with "other" non freestyle lines. Here we go...

 

A.) The cruise on the Spirit (and the NCL experience) was the BEST CRUISE I have been on in years - overall...PERIOD.

 

B.) The ship is one of the most beautiful ships in its' class.

 

C.) The effort of the crew and staff resulted in a superior experience.

 

D.) The food and dining venues, even as a single traveler, and at the small premiums charged are (i) the best at sea and (ii) exceeded the expectation.

 

E.) I do not work for NCL or for the media.

 

About the SHIP (I have a photo gallery which I will post Monday)...This ship, originally built as the Superstar Leo for the Asian market by the same shipbuilders who built the Century class ships for Celebrity (Meyer Weft), is a superior vessel based on quality of materials and fit and finish. NCL (Star) made a significant choice in their decision and the results are obvious and overwhelming. This ship is simply gorgious....and at 6 years old, looks brand new.

 

Of course, the ship has an Asian theme and this, for me and many, was a welcome change from the cookie cutter nonsence that rival ships, for example, are incorporating into their designs. The Spirit is so unique and unpretentious. Even at 77,000 tons (same size as the Mercury for example), you feel instantly at home. Everywhere.

 

BALCONY CABIN: #11158- AFT...201 Square feet with balcony. Not bad - and upon arrival, my steward and his assistant introduced themselves - knowing the bedding situation I immediately asked for the egg crate matress inserts and got them within 10 minutes. They also reconfigured the two twins into a queen.

 

I loved the cabin...it is designed so well (sliding closet doors, lighting, cabinets, drawers etc.) as was the bathroom...which at first seemed funky but works so well and is neatly decorated with real tile, 1st rate fixtures and the best shower at sea. My last cruise on HAC's Zuiderdam had a prison-like bathroom (brown molded pre-fab plastic) and although it had a tub, was probably smaller and seriously UGLY.

 

Yes, the beds are low, the TV is small and there is no fridge...so what - but these issues may not work for others...large folks may have problems with the shorter beds, clearance into the toilet and shower etc.

 

The A/C was the best on any ship I have been on...with my balcony door 1/2 open round-the-clock the room was chilly - with the balcony door closed, the room got frigid. Always fresh towels, full ice bucket and clean - clean - clean. Great bedding, duvet and with the eggies under the matress, great sleep.

 

DINING: Being a previous "traditional" dining guy - I didn't know how freestyle would work for me. It worked. In fact, I ate in the French Bistro 3 times - solo, but had a staff that made me feel like a king. OY!!! Also had a grand dining experience in Windows, one of the two main dining rooms, with great service, food and atmosphere.

 

Only problem on the Spirit with food is the buffet (Raffles)...food is precooked and transported to the buffet which is then served from steamed trays since the (re)design of the Spirit could not accommodate the facilities to prepare and serve the food from its' own kitchen. Don't expect hot food from the buffet but the salads, BBQ's and some of the dishes are quite good.

 

OUTSIDE: Yes, one big pool (mid-ship) and a kids pool area aft. Concerns regarding overcrowding in the main pool never materialized. This is the biggest pool (Tivoli) I have seen on any ship and may add up in size to two pools, but it was always clean and fresh and never crowded...plus four hot tubs which also always had room...and there were plenty of deck chairs except for the closest to the pool which were rudely and predictably reserved with unread books, a shoe or a hat.

 

Favorite watering hole was the bar - aft...great staff - say hello to Eddie...Beer Garten was nice too and served food (grilled snacks) til 8PM. Blue Lagoon was also great and saved me from a spout of starvation on departure day.

 

On and on...I'll add to this review but have this to say:

 

Perhaps I was lucky and had the best room steward, the best meals, and the best service on a "new entry" ship...and it was a coincidence...perhaps some on this cruise had a terrible time, awful service and lousy food...

 

Based on my experience, my next cruise will be with NCL, and hopefully many more...you are a great crowd - the NCL philosophy is one which other cruise lines wish they could deliver-say they can, but don't...I read that NCL's mission is to be the best cruise line in the world - after my 1st cruise with NCL, and the spirit behind the product, I am confident they will achieve this objective...

 

Thanks NCL for a really great cruise -

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I'm going on my first cruise in November - 5 Day Spirit, and was delighted to see that the ship met your expectations.....

 

Thanks

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Happy to hear the high praise. Our first NCL cruise on Spirit 5 day Halloween and can't wait. I think this might just be our new cruise line too.

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Wow! 12 cruises in one year! Must be great! My husband and I will be on the Spirit next September to Alaska. Thanks for all the great information!

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Thanks for the wonderful review. I was beaming as I read all of the very positive comments . . . with you being such a professional cruiser, you definitely know your stuff!

 

We are extremely anxious to cruise on the Spirit in four weeks.

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Thanks for the review. We are going on the Spirit 2/04/05. I am interested in which other cruises you have taken . We have sailed on the Norway and the Millenium we loved both for different reasons.

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Sounds great, seaventurer -thanks for the detailed review. I'm excited that NCL's going to home port the Spirit up here in NYC next winter (2005/6 -I think I have that info straight.) Nobody except Premier took the northeast seriously as a cruise port until NCL did -just sent us a few ships here and there during the Bermuda and/or fall foliage seasons. Now we'll have Dawn and Spirit year round and the first (at least) Jewel cruises. It's hard to be a New Yorker and not feel appreciated by NCL...

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thanks for the great review. i am also a frequent cruiser and am now a convert to freestyle. last cruise was traditional and i missed the freedom so much.

 

did you parttake in any of the entertainment? nightclub shows, lounges, evening game shows, casino? i would be interested in hearing about them. Being a two-time dawn cruiser, i already know about the great food, service and cleanliness. we are going to the southern caribbean on Feb. 18. can hardly wait!

thanks again.

 

bonnie

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PlaneGirl: Cruises in the last 12 months included -

 

Radisson Voyager

Zuiderdam (2)

Triumph (3)

Costa Medditeranea (2)

Imagination

Facination

Carnival Spirit

NCL Spirit

 

BONSAT: The entertainment on the NCL Spirit was excellent. Magician, BIG style shows, and nice venues in the bars. Also, great piano/singer in the Centrum at night. Casino was classy and very well staffed with great service. The trivia, Newlywed, game and bingo stuff are all pretty much the same and many can be viewed on the TV in your cabin...missed the disco (but toured it - very small but pretty)...

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Seaventurer, Thank you so much for the great review! I am now getting really excited about our November sailing:D This will be husband and my first cruise and I am a foodaholic..........specifically a Lobster junkie. Do you have any recommendations of which restaurant to get my fix at? Is there a Lobster night? Also, I'm wondering when the formal night is? Thanks again.

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Just wanted to second what the OP said. We were on the same sailing and was impressed with our first NCL cruise. Everything was great. The ship is beautiful. I don't have time to write a full review but I think those going in the future will also be impressed.

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Thank you so much for that review. My fiance and I will be cruising on Dec. 12th and really appreciated your opinion. I'm ready to go now right now!

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WOW!!

Your review made my day! It is great to read a review with so much enthusiasm, especially from someone who has sailed so many ships and knows what great things to expect from a cruise!

 

I have not yet been able to sail the Spirit, but did get to take a tour last spring. I was so impressed with the beautiful ship and the friendly crew. She is such a unique and special vessel for me. I can't explain it, but I got such a different feeling from being aboard her than from being aboard some other ships. Nothing like the "floating hotel" feeling, but more of the ship-with-a-heart or "spirit", if you will. Kind of hokey, I know, but true for me, nonetheless.

 

Based on my experience, my next cruise will be with NCL, and hopefully many more...you are a great crowd
You have touched on yet another reason why I really look forward to sailing on the Spirit, the great fellow passengers that I find on NCL. I know that this is something that is impossible to quantify, but the passenger mix on NCL is one of the reasons that I am always happy to return. I find the vast majority to be fun, friendly, relaxed, adventurous, and, most important for me, unpretentious.

 

Although I am drooling over that Spirit 9 night Southern Caribbean itinerary, we will not be able to sail again before next summer, so we will be looking at the Spirit out of Seattle or New York as soon as possible:D . Maybe I will see you on board some day!!

Julie

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seaventurer,

Thanks for such a great review. I have a few questions; mostly about food, if you get the time.

What restaurant has the best desserts (I love desserts)? Also, can you still order more than one entree? Do they have a lobster night? Can you get good steaks in the regular restaurants or do you have to go to specialty restaurant?

Thanks in advance for any help

Dottie

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I will try an answer all - Main dining room(s) served lobster (tails of course) on our 1st sea day (day 2) - Captain's Welcome Night - I heard they were small but VERY tasty and plentiful - a chap in the pool had 8 of them (not in the pool but at dinner - haha)...so eat your heart out ! I however did not feast in the Main dining room this night and dined in the French Bistro - interestingly, this intimate place is called "Taipan Bistro" and was originally a gourmet Chinese restaurant and looks like it except for the Versace service plates. They have a surf and turf affair and the wait staff will feed you as many lobster tails as you wish. By the way, the fillet mignon was perhaps one of the best I have ever had and ate in this restaurant three times ! Deserts are from a tray/cart and they have flambe. Try the Sea bass too - ouch $&$*(@$@ - unreal !!!

 

Interestingly, as a solo passenger on this cruise, I had no idea where to eat on the first night and simply "popped" into this Bistro...they had space and set me up at a table of my choice...and then it just got better and better - hence two more wonderful meals...

 

My experience in the Windows Restaurant (AFT) was equally wonderful - night 3, for example, I requested a cozy table and got it...right next to the piano where a passenger was playing (during dinner). He was a concert pianist - my waitress was a concert server. I did order the steak off the menu (a grilled NY strip) and it was - guess, fabulous. Perfectly cooked, hot off the grill. The SECOND the plate was served, a server was there with my baked potato condiments - sour cream, chives, butter and ground pepper.

 

No sorbet on the menu for desert - but I asked - and it arrived - two flavors - one each of passion fruit and lime (I think they steal these from other restaurants). Even at the buffet, at dinner they have a flambe - I saw the banana thing and it looked great. I am a sorbet nut and even though it was not on the menu, I got some every night.

 

This service, quality, attention to detail and desire to excel seems to be an NCL standard while it typically strains other cruise lines' staff and ends in disaster. NCL crew and staff are evidently taught to be resourceful and think outside the box. Seemingly, on other lines, crew and staff are taught - and trained on one way of doing something and if there is a deviation, forget it !!!

 

Promise to post photos soon - business is busy...thinking about a 9 night Spirit cruise in early December - and that's all I'm thinking about - my next Spirit cruise...oh those duvets...

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Seaventurer

Your review brought back happy memories of a cruise we did last year on the then-SuperStar Leo up the east coast of Australia. It is a truly magnificent ship - and it seems the crew haven't dropped their standards. We should be jealous but we are coming up in December to join the Norwegian Star from L.A. to Mexico. We are hoping it will be up there with the Leo/Spirit. Best wishes.

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Thank you so much; you answered all my questions. We booked very late but got our docs yesterday w00h00! Having a hard time waiting. We sail for 9 days on the 5th of Nov.

Thanks again

Dottie

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I'm glad to read nice things about the Spirit, I'm doing ALMOST two back to back cruises on the Sea on 13NOV, and then the Spirit on 28NOV, so I'm very sure I'm going to have some major differences on the two ships. This will be my 21st/22nd cruises, so I'm looking foward to going back to NCL, after a few years absence. There are 4 of us travelling, 2 of which have never been on a cruise before, so NCL should win them over with "Freestyle"!

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Thanks for taking the time to post the review! We are looking at booking the 5day Western Cruise for the end of November. Glad you enjoyed the ship. It's been a while since I sailed NCL(Norway).

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Your experience was exactly like mine! I am not fond of Oriental decor, but this ship just wowed me, especially the forward observation lounge, Galaxy of the Stars.

 

What made the whole cruise, though, was the extraordinary staff and crew... always smiling, always ready to help.

 

I can't wait until I can sail Spirit again.

 

Jana

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I always look forward to having these made-up in our room during turn down service...did this happen on the Spirit? (ok...yes, I'm cheesy!!)

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My husband and I also cruised on the Spirit to Alaska in August. I agree with everything SeaAdventurer has to say about the Spirit. The food was great, the eneterainment was great, the cabins were very nice, the bathrooms were fabuolous (if you can say that about a bathroom) and the crew were all wonderful. One thing SeaAdventurer didn't touch on was the Casino. My husband and I went to play the slots. After "investing" very littlie into his machine, my husband hit a jackpot for nearly $1,200. I was sitting along side of him. Within 15 minutes I hit a jackpot for $3,750! It was unbelievable. Even the cashier attendant said she had never seen anything like it before. All in all, we got off the ship with a total of $5,000 thanks to the casino. And, guess what? We're going on another cruise on the Spirit (same cabin) in March to the S.Caribbean. And you can also assume that we're going back to those same slot machines. Do you think lightening can hit twice in the same place? So, for all of you who are sailing on the Spirit in the future, take a chance at their casino too.

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Thank you for the great review. We are taking our first cruise ever. Glad we chose the Spirit. Will be going the 4th of June, 2005 to Alaska. Wooo hoooo!!!! it seems so far away. :(

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