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Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Spirit

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Sep 5, 2015

Poor customer service

In Feb 2015 we booked a 12 day European cruise and a 16 day transatlantic cruise on the Spirit. In August 2015 we received notice that the transatlantic cruise had been canceled by NCL. They offered no compensation, I am sure if we canceled the cruise we would have been charged. When I tried rebooking the cruise I was told that it would cost $1,000 more and I would not get the upgrades that were offered last Feb. I will not book with NCL again

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Feb 28, 2015

Review of Norwegian Spirit

Kristy Ellis Age: 37 Occupation:Secretary Number of Cruises: 1 Cruise Line: Norwegian Ship: Norwegian Spirit Sailing Date: 2014-11-2 Itinerary: Grand Mediteranean The overall cruise was great. Our family was able to see a lot of great places in Europe without doing a lot of travel. Our floating hotel room took us to each new port while we slept and we woke up ready to go each new day. The customer service was always good, not top notch but nothing

to be disappointed in. Our steward was friendly but not the phenomenal steward that I hear others speak of, but like I said we weren't disappointed. Just not overwhelmed. Any mass produced food is bound to get old and stall after such a long cruise. The cruise line does a pretty good job at shaking things up by offering food of the port on the top deck at the time of re-embarkment. For instance, it was nice to grab a gyro onboard after missing the opportunity to do so while in Mykonos. Was it the best gyro I'd ever had, no, but it wasn't terrible either. The first few days you feel very lucky to have so many choices at the Raffles Food Court (buffet), but by the end you are so over the food offered. While there are a few other free/included restaurants, it all begins to feel recycled. The pay restaurants were across the spectrum. We were not impressed by the hibachi restaurant (Teppenyaki); however the steak house (Cagney's) and the Asian Fusion restaurant (Shogun) both provided good meals and way more food than we could ever eat! We were not able to eat at the French restaurant but the Italian restaurant was average. Our cabin was very nice, but we weren't looking for a view, just a place to be comfortable and put our heads down. We have a teen & pre-teen, so we booked room 4479. It is a family room without even a port hole; however, the room is all the forward and is comprised of extra space that would otherwise have been wasted on the ship. As our steward said, "you could play football in there." The entertainment was good, most of the nightly shows were for an older crowd, not being exciting or "cool" enough for our children. They did have the option to go to the children's center (our pre-teen met the age requirements, but was actually too "old" for this area) and the teen center (with a total of 22 children on board for this Nov cruise, you can imagine how exciting this center was on any given day) though. But, they mostly hung out with us or in our stateroom in the free time onboard. The NCL excursions all include some sort of presentation or shopping trip. While it was nice to not have to seek out vendors for particular souvenirs, it was quite annoying to sit through pitch after pitch, day after day. The "free time" you get on each excursion is always taken up by "10 minute-presentations" that turn into 50 minute sales pitches. Otherwise, I enjoyed the excursions. The alternative is to book from 3d party companies, but I was too scared to miss the re-embarkment deadlines, so we did not book outside of the ship. One particular excursion I do want to mention is the "St. Tropez & Port Grimaud." This is probably a great excursion in season. With our cruise taking place the first two weeks of November, the season was most definitely over. St. Tropez and Port Grimaud had both shuttered up for the winter and the celebrity visitors had left for the year. This in itself is not a reason to avoid the locations, as it is still pretty and there were still many impressive yachts at port. But, we stopped there on a Monday (Barcelona to Venice direction). As we discovered, local shops will NOT open if they had been open on Saturday. This includes shopping and some eating. This place was literally a ghost town when we were there. Maybe the other direction, when they stop on a different day, had a different experience. Also, an off season visit to Delos...I recommend eating a big breakfast. The boat only travel one round trip each day and you will need every minute to visit the island. When you return to Mykonos, you have to hustle to get back on the ship in time. There was never an opportunity to even stop for a snack. You will not eat again until about 2:30pm. Overall, we enjoyed our trip. It was our first cruise, and a long one at that, but well worth the money. When we took the final bill (cruise, excursions, airlines, taxis/shuttles, etc) and divided it out, the trip only cost about $120/person per day. All meals included, transportation, lodging, entertainment, taxes & fees, souvenirs...that's not a terrible price to me. We'd do it again, except we want to visit all new locations next time A few tips... 1. If you don't have EU passports, they will keep your passports upon check-in and return them after Greece. Make copies before you leave. 2. We paid for everything before we left, ie upgrade restaurant bookings, all the excursions, and I put $500 credit on our room. This took a LOT of the sticker shock away when the cruise ended. We had a VERY small bill, and that was only because we bought 2 small pieces of art at one of the art auctions. 3. If you have kids, caution: the arcade games are ran by a quick swipe of a room key and charged to your room. I would not let my pre-teen wander the ship on his own with his room key, just to be cautious. 4. The largest tables at the restaurants only seat 6 people, and there aren't very many of them. If you are dining at high-traffic times, be prepared to split up your party. 5. There are TVs in each stateroom. There are a few European news channels as well as 3 or 4 movie channels. Only one is in English. But, the run movie after movie after movie. It was nice to have pizza delivery and watch a movie on nights when you were having trouble falling asleep or you wanted a home feel. 6. Wi-Fi on board is expensive, take advantage of restaurants at port that have it for free (many do). 7. Whatever time you can start boarding, keep in mind that EVERYONE is there to check in at the same time. We waited 2.5 hours to go to the terminal and so only waited maybe 5 minutes for our turn to check-in and essentially walked right on and were able to go right to our stateroom. It gave us a little extra time in our embarkment city and less waiting at the terminal. 8. Laundry is expensive and there is no way to do your own on board. Hold out for specials, they happen usually mid-week. 9. If you have extra luggage tags, tape one to a case of water bottles and have the baggage guys take them to your room. Water purchase onboard is expensive (it's cheaper on the first day, if you forget to "pack" some). 10. The rolls that are made of pretzel dough are amazing, get lots and send some to me!

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Dec 8, 2014

Grand Mediteranean

The overall cruise was great. Our family was able to see a lot of great places in Europe without doing a lot of travel. Our floating hotel room took us to each new port while we slept and we woke up ready to go each new day. The customer service was always good, not top notch but nothing to be disappointed in. Our steward was friendly but not the phenomenal steward that I hear others speak of, but like I said we weren't disappointed. Just not

overwhelmed. Any mass produced food is bound to get old and stall after such a long cruise. The cruise line does a pretty good job at shaking things up by offering food of the port on the top deck at the time of re-embarkment. For instance, it was nice to grab a gyro onboard after missing the opportunity to do so while in Mykonos. Was it the best gyro I'd ever had, no, but it wasn't terrible either. The first few days you feel very lucky to have so many choices at the Raffles Food Court (buffet), but by the end you are so over the food offered. While there are a few other free/included restaurants, it all begins to feel recycled. The pay restaurants were across the spectrum. We were not impressed by the hibachi restaurant (Teppenyaki); however the steak house (Cagney's) and the Asian Fusion restaurant (Shogun) both provided good meals and way more food than we could ever eat! We were not able to eat at the French restaurant but the Italian restaurant was average. Our cabin was very nice, but we weren't looking for a view, just a place to be comfortable and put our heads down. We have a teen & pre-teen, so we booked room 4479. It is a family room without even a port hole; however, the room is all the forward and is comprised of extra space that would otherwise have been wasted on the ship. As our steward said, "you could play football in there." The entertainment was good, most of the nightly shows were for an older crowd, not being exciting or "cool" enough for our children. They did have the option to go to the children's center (our pre-teen met the age requirements, but was actually too "old" for this area) and the teen center (with a total of 22 children on board for this Nov cruise, you can imagine how exciting this center was on any given day) though. But, they mostly hung out with us or in our stateroom in the free time onboard. The NCL excursions all include some sort of presentation or shopping trip. While it was nice to not have to seek out vendors for particular souvenirs, it was quite annoying to sit through pitch after pitch, day after day. The "free time" you get on each excursion is always taken up by "10 minute-presentations" that turn into 50 minute sales pitches. Otherwise, I enjoyed the excursions. The alternative is to book from 3d party companies, but I was too scared to miss the re-embarkment deadlines, so we did not book outside of the ship. One particular excursion I do want to mention is the "St. Tropez & Port Grimaud." This is probably a great excursion in season. With our cruise taking place the first two weeks of November, the season was most definitely over. St. Tropez and Port Grimaud had both shuttered up for the winter and the celebrity visitors had left for the year. This in itself is not a reason to avoid the locations, as it is still pretty and there were still many impressive yachts at port. But, we stopped there on a Monday (Barcelona to Venice direction). As we discovered, local shops will NOT open if they had been open on Saturday. This includes shopping and some eating. This place was literally a ghost town when we were there. Maybe the other direction, when they stop on a different day, had a different experience. Also, an off season visit to Delos...I recommend eating a big breakfast. The boat only travel one round trip each day and you will need every minute to visit the island. When you return to Mykonos, you have to hustle to get back on the ship in time. There was never an opportunity to even stop for a snack. You will not eat again until about 2:30pm. Overall, we enjoyed our trip. It was our first cruise, and a long one at that, but well worth the money. When we took the final bill (cruise, excursions, airlines, taxis/shuttles, etc) and divided it out, the trip only cost about $120/person per day. All meals included, transportation, lodging, entertainment, taxes & fees, souvenirs...that's not a terrible price to me. We'd do it again, except we want to visit all new locations next time A few tips... 1. If you don't have EU passports, they will keep your passports upon check-in and return them after Greece. Make copies before you leave. 2. We paid for everything before we left, ie upgrade restaurant bookings, all the excursions, and I put $500 credit on our room. This took a LOT of the sticker shock away when the cruise ended. We had a VERY small bill, and that was only because we bought 2 small pieces of art at one of the art auctions. 3. If you have kids, caution: the arcade games are ran by a quick swipe of a room key and charged to your room. I would not let my pre-teen wander the ship on his own with his room key, just to be cautious. 4. The largest tables at the restaurants only seat 6 people, and there aren't very many of them. If you are dining at high-traffic times, be prepared to split up your party. 5. There are TVs in each stateroom. There are a few European news channels as well as 3 or 4 movie channels. Only one is in English. But, the run movie after movie after movie. It was nice to have pizza delivery and watch a movie on nights when you were having trouble falling asleep or you wanted a home feel. 6. Wi-Fi on board is expensive, take advantage of restaurants at port that have it for free (many do). 7. Whatever time you can start boarding, keep in mind that EVERYONE is there to check in at the same time. We waited 2.5 hours to go to the terminal and so only waited maybe 5 minutes for our turn to check-in and essentially walked right on and were able to go right to our stateroom. It gave us a little extra time in our embarkment city and less waiting at the terminal. 8. Laundry is expensive and there is no way to do your own on board. Hold out for specials, they happen usually mid-week. 9. If you have extra luggage tags, tape one to a case of water bottles and have the baggage guys take them to your room. Water purchase onboard is expensive (it's cheaper on the first day, if you forget to "pack" some). 10. The rolls that are made of pretzel dough are amazing, get lots and send some to me!

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Nov 6, 2014

Mediterrain

The cost of this NCL cruise was a bargain. The same cruise on Princess Cruise line would cost at least $1,000+ more per person. Dining - Buffet Self-Serve Style: Sufficient, medium sized area (can be overcrowded ay times). A major issue throughout the entire ship was the inability for your chair(s) to slide on the rugs. This made it extremely difficult to sit down and/or stand up. A wide and varied selection of foods to meet

all tastes was available. Some foods were bland and lacked taste. At times, drink machines broke down needing frequent repair. The Staff is alert, friendly and responsive. No issues whatsoever. Dining - Waiter Type Style: Two good-sized restaurants. One semi-formal (no shorts. T-shirts, etc.) and the other "come-as-you-are". A major issue throughout the entire ship was the inability for your chair(s) to slide on the rugs. This made it extremely difficult to sit down and/or stand up. Both dining rooms used the same menu. Sufficient and varied tastes are accommodated. Quality and presentation was average to slightly above average. A wide and varied selection of foods to meet all tastes was available. Some foods were bland and lacked taste. The French Onion soup only had one(1) sliver of an onion, mostly broth. In a few instances, the quality of the meats/poultry was inferior and returned to the kitchen. The Staff is alert, friendly and responsive. No issues whatsoever. Dining - Specialty Style: Not used. I did observe that the specialty restaurants were sparsely used. Dining - Bistro Style: Located mostly outdoors on the upper decks. Mostly "finger foods" (Sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, etc.). Wide and varied selections of foods to meet all tastes. The Staff is alert, friendly and responsive. No issues whatsoever. Cabin overview: Small, clean, neat and efficient. For sleeping, the bed is very comfortable. Storage/Shelving quite sufficient. Some wear and tear noted throughout. Needs overall refurbishment and/or updating. In the shower, I had noted mold and/or stained grouting in the seams and the corners. The silver backing in the corners of the vanity mirror had become delaminated. Some issues with operating the hot water controls in the shower. Intermittent issues with a lack of immediate toilet flushing. Many TV in cabin issues..... The TV remote required new batteries. Only 20 available channels. News channels were either BBC or SKY News. Eight(8) channels were mostly NCL information and advertisements. Lacked sufficient English speaking news/entertainment channels. No American TV stations. No "instant" TV Guide channel of the available movies. The Cabin/Stateroom Staff is alert, friendly and responsive. No issues whatsoever. On-Ship Services, Activities and Entertainment: Overall - Excellent and as advertised. TOUR EXCURSIONS: WARNING - The many aggressive, in-your-face and/or annoying street and/or store vendors made the shopping trips/tours a very annoying and a disappointing experience, thereby making any casual browsing in any store nearly impossible. They all appeared extremely desperate to sell you anything. This is a real turn-off for American shoppers that just like to browse. NOTICE - Although each tour states a degree of physical difficulty (from 1 to 3), it is somewhat understated in order to promote the tour. Several passengers were just worn out and had to take a taxi€™s back to the tour buses. Toulon, France - Walked around the port village. Sidewalk markets were open. Livorno, Italy - Took a tour to the walled city of Lucca and the Tower of Pisa. Few aggressive/annoying vendors. Civitavecchia, Italy - Took a tour of Rome, Coliseum, the old ruins, and the Vatican. Few aggressive/annoying vendors. Naples, Italy - Rented a Hertz car and drove/toured the Pompeii excavations. Many aggressive/annoying vendors. Mikonos, Greece - Walked around the village. Very few aggressive/annoying vendors. Istanbul, Turkey - Took a general bus tour of the old city, stopped at the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. Too many aggressive/annoying vendors. WARNING (Depending upon your point-of-view, this can be entertaining or annoying): The Istanbul tour guide unloaded the bus (40+/-) in front of a Turkish rug dealer (Gordes) where the tour would observe the process of how a Turkish rug is made. In a large room we watched the looming process with explanations from their guide. That ended when hot apple cider and a half of a Turkish bagel was distributed to all. Unexpectedly at this point, a high-pressure sales pitch had begun with the display of dozens of very expensive Turkish rugs laid out at our feet. Then, a dozen highly experienced rug salesmen entered the room to counter every possible reason to not purchase anything. A few from the tour ended up buying a rug. This "commercial" was unexpected and uncalled for. Probably a "kick-back" type operation. Kuradasi, Turkey - Walked around the port village. Far too many ultra-aggressive vendors all over the place. Athens, Greece - Took an excellent guided tour of Athens and the Acropolis. Serious walking and climbing stairs. Careful: Very slippery walking surfaces. Few aggressive vendors. Venice, Italy - We are planning a self-walking/water bus/water taxi tour of the city for the day. CRUISE REVIEW - NCL SPIRIT - 12 day Mediterranean Cruise (3,800+ miles) Oct. 9-21, 2014

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Oct 12, 2014

Medetrannien

We cruised in the Mediterranean from Venice to Barcelona. We were very satisfied with the cruise. My husband loved the shows and the cleanliness of the cabin. We had excellent service and enjoyed the shore excursions. The food and dining service was excellent. The cabin was very clean although a bit small. But we still liked it and it was comfortable. Excellent shows and other entertainment on the ship! Very well organized

tours that we bought through Norwegian Cruise Line. My husband and I enjoyed every moment. We will take another cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line and the Norwegian Spirit!

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Mar 25, 2013

Canary Island

We have sailed on other cruise lines so we are compositing this to Princess and Oceania. The initial charges on the booking were low so we tried to base our expectations on the cost as well. The food was on the low end if average. There were several restaurants on board where you could eat for an additional $10 - $25/pp. we are still on the cruise & as of yet, have not availed ourselves of these venues. There is a included buffet and a single

included restaurant. The balance are burger/fast food joints. I was surprised & disappointed at the additional food charges $21 for a 6 pack of water, $5 for pizza, another charge if room service delivers between certain hours, a charge for orange juice, $15 to bring a bottle of wine aboard. A ocean view cabin - roomy & clean Although there is the usual constant activity on board, the activities were not to our taste - 70's trivia, karaoke, napkin folding,.. They do have a couple of shows in the evening - magic, dance and the like. There were no movies except in cabin, and little else to differentiate them from any other line. The Canary Island trip is pretty laid back. Some shopping, very limited adventure excursions, uninteresting architecture.

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Dec 3, 2012

Canaries

We have just returned from our cruise. The service was fantastic - it was great to experience such wonderful service. Nothing was too much trouble. Our cabin was kept spotless by our cabin steward Nengar, who left us some fantastic creations made from towels each evening. We ate mostly in Windows restaurant although did try Cagney's steak house restaurant one evening - fantastic food but quite honestly the food in Windows and the Garden

room restaurants are excellent too, as well as the service. Raffles restaurant had a great choice for breakfast and lunch but at times it was very busy so generally quite noisy. We also thoroughly enjoyed "Happy hour" in the Galaxy Bar from 5 - 7pm each evening, bar staff - Alex, Arif and Marvin were great characters and very very efficient. Unfortunately we were unlucky with the weather but we cant blame NCL for that! I would certainly recommend NCL and look forward to our next cruise with them soon. I would say the only negative was the high gratuity charge added to the bill each day. Excellent - fantastic choices of food. Very clean & quite spacious cabin. Good shows and music. Trip started in Malaga and stopped off at Barcelona, Madeira, Santa Cruz and Lanzarote.

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Jan 18, 2012

Western Caribbean

I wish I'd found this website and read these reviews before I booked! This was my first "real" cruise -- I'd gone on a 3-day Mexican Riviera Royal Caribbean a few years back and liked that ship very much but not the itinerary. Since this NCL cruis on the Spirit was over Christmas, the ship was packed with families. The "free-style" cruising means you don't have dinner with other people, so we never had a chance to sit down and get to know other

travelers which was disappointing. The food was average. My first impression of the buffet was that it smelled like a high-school cafeteria and that was pretty accurate. Even in the two main dining rooms the food was okay, not great, and often barely warm by the time it was served. The night we opted for burgers and fries at the Lagoon Grill, the food was lukewarm even though we were sitting, literally, about 15 feet from the grill itself. Amazing. If you expect gourmet food, this is not the ship for you. Stateroom was fine. Nothing great. Room for both of us to unpack and move around. We were only in it long enough to change clothes and sleep. The evening shows were fun. The spa is expensive -- $159 for a bamboo massage which is just rubbing heated sticks over your body. However, the steam room and sauna and workout room are free and well done. Definitely worth spending some time there! Attended a couple of the talks about the shore excursions but they were pretty much sales pitches for various stores which, I'm sure, paid a commission to the on-board sales folk. The golf talk was good and I now wish I'd taken advantage of the golf lessons which weren't all that expensive. The Biomaya canopy zip-line in Costa Maya was fun. If you go, take some snacks because the lunch is a sack with a very meager sandwich and a cereal bar which you get at the end, about 3:00 p.m. We'd had breakfast at 8:00 before leaving the ship so that is a long time to go without anything. The snorkeling in Belize was fun but only about 30 minutes. We went to the beach afterwards and used a kayak (free) to paddle through the lagoon and see real, wild dolphins. In Honduras we skipped the shore excursion and paid a taxi driver to take us to the beach on the other side of the island. Frankly, there is not much to do in these ports. In Roatan, Honduras, we walked quite awhile in the little town, but there wasn't anything of interest. I'd expected these ports to be pretty with white-washed houses, tropical flowers and maybe even a parrot or two. No. Shacks, mud, and in Belize we were warned against leaving the walled-in tourist area which had tacky little stores selling, for the most part, little trinkets that looked like they were made in China. Overall, it was disappointing. The ship was crowded, the food fair, and the drinks pricey. $9 for a cocktail, $6 a glass for the house wine. In the two nice dining rooms they did not enforce the dress code so although most people were nicely dressed, there were also people in shorts and flip-flops, torn jeans & wearing baseball caps. Sort of kills any feeling of elegance. Also, the lounge chairs by the pool were always occupied -- and even though supposedly you couldn't reserve them, plenty were empty except for a towel and book although nobody ever was actually there. This is definitely a ship for families, for people who are happy to lie by the pool (if they're lucky enough to find a place) and slug down expensive beer. If you are looking for anything remotely elegant or upscale, keep looking. This is not the cruise for you.

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Nov 2, 2011

Aquafest

Today I decided to write about my shore excursion I took yesterday since it is raining in Belize today. I have totally enjoyed my first cruise so far. The food and on-board entertainment have been great. But I had a fantastic time yesterday in Costa Maya. More that great I know that I have already gained weight and can only hope that I can take it off when I get home. The room is a little small but very comfortable and I do not spend

a lot of time in there. Love, Love , Love the casino winner winner chicken dinner is all I can say about that. Please don't miss the Stand Up Paddle Boards in Costa Maya ( Mahahual)!!!I ALMOST DID !!! Walking around the malecon I found something that I have been wanting to do, Stand Up Paddle Boards. There is a great little set up there, the girls that run the place are awesome..... I had to wait a because I was not able to book prior to getting off the ship. The ship did not even offer the tour, but is another story. They helped me get out on the board and I was up and paddling in no time. The water and marine life were exceptional and I cannot think of a better way to have spent my time, it was most definitely worth the hour wait. I would suggest booking with them on their site or run when you get off the ship to get a time scheduled. I even purchased a cap and got a free Temp tattoo from my adventure. They are located about 2/3rds down the malecon but well worth it. You cannot miss them that have huge flags and are UnderToe Mexcio.com I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did . Ship left N.O and we set sail, I was a little nervous as this was my first cruise, the on-board staff has made me feel very at home and catered to my every need. We have been to Costa Maya and Belize so far raining in Belize hope the rest of the trip has better weather than today, tomorrow on to Roatan the Cozumel then home. Happy Sails to all Susan

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By Jade_CR

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Oct 24, 2011

Bahamas

We selected this cruise trip was because it's from/to NYC, where we live near by, no air needed. Went with 2 pre-teen kids and parents. All 6 of us were very disappointed. The food was horrible. My kids had hard time to find anything to eat at lunch and breakfast, worse than buffet in supermarkets. Most staff on the ship were from the Philippines. I can't blame them not know how to make bread or Italy food. We had to wait for dinner to eat at

speciality restaurants. Those restaurants were pretty good, cooked by professional chefs, but charge extra money. It's not too bad. The service people often looked tired and made you feel guilty to bother them. I heard that they work long time everyday. We had been with other cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, several times. Never been disappointed and always felt like too much tasty foods for our too small stomach. The Doctor on the ship was unbelievably rude when we had health issue to see him. I don't care about the free time dining style NCL promoted. On the other cruise ships, although your dinner time is fixed, you still can be arrive early or late, and you can eat buffet which usually is better than NCL's formal dinner. Don't waste your time and money on NCL.

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Jun 19, 2011

Western Caribbean

All I can say is, wow! This was my fifth cruise, but the people with me were all first time cruisers, including my 7 yr old son. I am not a huge fan of freestyle dining, but the service and food were fabulous! Le Bistro was absolutely wonderful. La Trattoria and shogun were good, and the sushi was good. I would do Le Bistro again. The main dining rooms were wonderful! There were so many onboard activities that we had a hard time choosing them.

Our stateroom was clean and the bathroom was surprisingly large. My complaint was the casino. It was dated, and the slots were not in good repair. There were machines that broke constantly, and others that never worked for our entire cruise. The casino needs a serious upgrade! My husband enjoyed the variety of card games. The food was terrific, everywhere. The wait staff in the Blue Lagoon were wonderful and my 7 year old loved being a big guy, ordering his own food and sitting there by himself. Small, of course. It was clean and well cared for by our excellent cabin steward, Budi. He made my son feel very special. Too many to choose! We were busy all the time! My son adored the kids club. Don't miss Snuba with Sand dollar Sports in Cozumel. The dolphins in Roatan were amazing and well cared for! They were in a natural cove. I would not pay to see dolphins in Costa Maya. They were in a terrible little concrete tank. Withhold your business and make sure they know that you won't pay to see animals treated that way. Snorkeling in Belize was excellent, and Galvin had to quasi-rescue our 7 year old at one point. He did it with finesse, and made our son feel ok about the experience. The casino in Belize was a ball! It was very secure, they held our shopping bags, and there was a huge amount of nickel coin-in slots, for those of us that like to spend 15 cents a spin and hear the clatter of coins! Taxi ride to the Princess Casino is 5 bucks a person. don't worry about changing your money to Belize currency. Very few machines accept it.

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Apr 1, 2011

Western Carribean

This was our first cruise and if we thought all cruises were like this we would never consider going again. We were not told there would be over 300 spring break students aboard the cruise ship. We had never heard of being late to every single port and mediocre food. We had always heard the rooms were small but the food was plenteful and some of the best food you could get. We booked shore excursions through the ship and paid the premium prices

but certainly did not get premium excursions. The best day we spent was in Roatan where we hired a taxi to drive us where the taxi driver thought were good places. It was a great day, the excursions booked through the cruise line were abreviated on both accounts and the food was far less than pleasant. Communication from the captain was pretty much non existant and we had no idea what was going on. We would rush to our door to hear what was coming over the speakers only to hear another announcement for bingo, or some other party. We never knew why we were late for ports or when we should rebook our departing flights. We have never been so disapointed in a vacation in our lives. We were actually looking forward to getting home and going back to work. There were three dining options on the ship, there were two main dining rooms that served exactly the same menu, the food was average, the cook staff needed to learn how to make beef stroganoff, the deserts were usually good, however if you had the soda pass sometimes you had to wait for your entire meal before sodas were found and served. There was a buffet on one of the upper deck, but after a couple of meals there everything began to look and taste the same, there wasn't any soda service there and if you wanted a soda you had to go and wait in the line at the bar. There was a small fast food restaurant that served good burgers, fries, fish and chips etc but it was usually a long wait for a burger to be grilled. There were several speciality restaurants on board, we only at at the steakhouse and were very impressed with the meal and the service. Our stateroom was fine, we had a large window. We really wish we had upgraded to a balcony since there was very little room and way to much activity around the pool. We would have like to lay out in the sun, but the pool deck was a drunken beach party most of the time. The bathroom was small but adequate. The TV was tiny and almost impossible to watch from the bed because of the small size. The room was clean and our room staff was great. There was no speaker in the room so we always had to jump up and run to the door to hear any announcements since we did not usually have the TV turned on. It seemed like everything on board the ship was directed at some sort of sale. Our first day was spent at sea and we went to the excursion presentation, the shopping presentation, the magic show and whatever the main show was for the evening. We booked our excursions and put a couple of bucks in the slot machines and walked around the 7th level deck. We had planned on an excursion and a pleasant day in Costa Maya, but were unable to get off the ship due to being the last ship to arrive in port and the weather. The crew scrambled for things for the passangers to do, but everything was pretty much a repeat of the first day activities. We went to the pool area to buy the special on T-shirts but the had nothing on the ship larger than an XL shirt other than one 2XL that said simply "I Love Cruising". Due to the crowds around the pool we were bored out of our minds. Many of the shipboard activities are scheduled in the evening, after 10:00 PM. We have to be up and at work in the mornings so we tend to be early to bed early to rise type of people so the thought of going to something that starts at 10:00 PM did now appeal to us. There was an acrobatic show that was excellent and a second city comedy troupe that put on a good show. The musical extravaganza was a disapointment. On our last day we were supposed to arrive in New Orleans at 8:00 AM but due to a medical airlift and being on the slowest boat in the fleet we did not arrive until 5:00 PM. We were asked to vacate our staterooms. We had lunch at 11:30 and there was absolutely nothing to do, and I do mean nothing, until we arrived back in New Orleans at 5:00 PM. We were served a free drink at about 3:00 PM. No information was diseminated. No information was given on disembarkation which was to put it mildly a cluster. We were booked for three excursions, however due to not going to Costa Maya we had to hustle and rebook to at least see the Mayan Ruins. We booked through the ship and nothing ran smoothly on the two excursions we did manage to book. We went on a tubing adventure in Belize. We were late getting off the boat due to waiting for spring breakers who were supposed to be left if they were not on time. When we did get to out tour busses we only had two busses instead of three and had to wait. What was supposed to be a 45 minute guided walk through the rain forest ended up being a 20 minute dash so we were not late. When we got back to our lunch everything was being put away and no more food was being put out. We got back just in time to jump on the overcrowded tender boat to go back to the ship, we were transported on school buses (thankfully they were air condidtioned) when we arrived at the site we realized the other ships had transported by motor coach, I would book an excursion in Belize because the country was not one I would have felt safe in without some type of escort. We were supposed to meet in the theatre at 7:30 to do our Mayan tour in Cozumel. When we reported we were told not to come back until we could at lest see land. We were finally rushed off the ship after 9:30 and put on a boat for the mainland where we were rushed onto busses to the ruins, our tour guide was good and did a great job explaining the culture but our beach, free, shopping time was reduced from three hours to about 30 minutes, and we were rushed back on the boat to the ship. At least we were given a 25% reimbursement for that excursion but we don't believe that would have happened had there not been a large group of people complaining about the greatly shortenend excursion. Despite the cruise itself we had a good time, we met other people with like interests and had long dinners and talks with them, we did a lot of walking on the prominade deck and did sit out on beach chairs there occasionally, when chairs were available. The ship information states it holds a little over 1900 guests but we were told that there were 2300 aboard the ship. We discovered various venues were closed for special group events. The ship catered to the spring break crowds, of course I am sure they were making a fortune from the drinks they were ordering. In the two non tendered ports we visited the ship waited at least 30 minutes for people who got back late, even though we were told repeatedly that we would leave at the designated hour. Communication from the captain was virtually non existant. We were awakened to be told we were not to be on the upper decks during a helecopter evacuation of an ill individual, but never told how far out of the way we went or how that affected our arrival back in New Orleans. Internet access was slow and extremely expensive, however when we realized we woud be missing flights and hotel reservations we were given access to computers. Everything about arrival time in New Orleans was passed through roumers and gossip, no one in command seemed able to give an arrival time. If we believed all cruises would be like this we would never, ever, ever consider going on a cruise again. As it is we will never go on another Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise.

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By Amy_CR

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Mar 17, 2011

Western Carrbean

Last week was my first time ever on a cruise and really my first time to leave the country on a "real" vacation, and if NCL does not attempt to improve on some things, it will certainly be my last. I will make it very brief... Trip started off fine until we could not dock at Costa Maya due weather conditions and were about 2-3 hours late getting to Cozumel. I booked 5 excursions on this trip and 2 had to be cancelled - 3/5 = 60%! In addition, this

was spring break for 2 universities that booked a group cruise - We ran out of pina colada by Monday! This was also the annual cruise for a certain specialty club - I have never had a problem with being open minded and accepting of anyone's personal choice for their lifestyle, but I would not knowingly have exposed my 4 kids (1, 9, 12 & 17) to seven days of this. Needless to say, between these two groups, we could not use the pool or the hot tubs. What was left...Bingo for $70-$100 a pop or the shows which were amazing. However, there were times when we would sit down at the theater and people (from the specialty club) would actually move - not very tolerant or even cordial to families at all. Then there was disembarking the ship; what a nightmare! The ship was supposed to arrive at New Orleans for 6-7 in the morning; well we didn’t get there until 5:00 PM! Then it took about 3 hours for us to get off the ship. My biggest problem with this was that the restaurants all shut down at about 2:00 PM. We were starving! I had to beg the staff to bring us some cookies so that my kids would not have a meltdown. They eventually (and reluctantly) brought me three. For all of these setbacks there were explanations but after so many, they all started to sound like excuses. I know that for the staff on the ship, this is like everyday life for them, but I had to save money for like 2 years in order to afford to bring my family on a vacation like this was supposed to be…. and this is the story and experience that we got out of it. Food was okay. The Sushi and French restaurants were definitely worth the cover charge. It was ok. Before booking a cruise, be sure to ask if there are any large groups booked on the ship. Look into their background and decide if you would like to sail with them and if it will be appropriate to bring your family along.

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Mar 25, 2010

Exotic Western Caribbean

Couldn't have been much better if the Child Care Centre worked out for us. Despite all the refurbishing and great service, I still recommend going with a newer ship. The staterooms are smaller than the ones you find on newer ships and definitely showing their age. Because our 3 year old son was clinging to us the whole cruise due to a traumatizing event on Day 1 (see below) we only ate at the main buffet, poolside bbq and outdoor bar on upper deck.

There was a good variety and some made to order options like omellete station and pasta bar. Nice to see fresh fruits and salads all week. Some drink machines didn't work which was a minor annoyance. Our kid enjoyed the food so we give a thumbs up for kid-friendliness. Small for 3 people even with the upgrade to balcony view. The stewards were amazing though. Very professional and friendly. On Day 1, we took our 3 year old son to Charlie’s Child Centre for a 6-8 pm program. We were given a pager and asked to report if paged. We had to provide a location where we could be found during the program so we said "Casino". I picked up the pager from my husband at 7:45. It said 0 missed calls. When I arrived at the Centre, the front desk lady said were were paged 3X because our son was crying a lot. No one had contacted my husband at the Casino. Our son came out of the playroom all tear-stained and miserable. Someone tested the pagers and noticed that they did not work consistently. Our son was traumatized and would not leave us for the rest of the cruise. My husband and I could not enjoy alone time and other activities as planned. When shopping in Costa Maya and Cozumel, it pays to shop around before purchasing. There were stark differences in pricing between different vendors in the same shopping centre. I saved a lot by bargaining and being thorough. It takes longer but if you're buying a lot, it's worth it. NCL customer service gave us a $200 Onboard Credit Certificate which expires within a year as a "gesture of good will" for the trouble caused by the Child Care Centre incident. We almost wish they hadn't sent us anything as it seemed trivial in comparison to our son's trauma. I let them know that it wasn't much consolation and we don't plan to cruise in the next year. All they did was extend the expiry to 2 years. I see why people say NCL's customer service isn't so great.

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Aug 9, 2009

Bermuda

For the price, you can't beat this cruise. That being said, if you are looking for an elegant vacation complete with fine dining and white glove service--this is not the cruise for you. The passengers tend to be younger, 20s-30s, and there are many children aboard as well. The pool area (and many common areas) are noisy and filled with drunken revelry. However, as I said, you cannot beat the price. The cruise is what you make of it. If you want

a cheap trip to Bermuda with decent food and service, a pool and casino and loads of bars --this is your cruise! Despite all of its flaws, I don't think anyone could take this cruise and not have a good time. Overall the food was pretty good. The food court, Raffles, had a nice selection of breakfast and lunch items. The food was tasty but not gourmet. The main dining room food was decent. I had a few good meals and a few mediocre meals. The service tends to be slow. We ate in the Steakhouse and the food there was excellent! The steaks were superb. We also ate at the asian fusion specialty restaurant and the food was very good there as well. The stateroom was larger than I expected. It was very clean, cozy, and perfect for our needs. The bathroom was a bit bigger than bathrooms on other ships--especially the shower area. Overall the staterooms were very good. I prefer to lie by the pool and read than to do the onboard activities on any ship. :) Some of the shows were entertaining and funny. The casino is great fun as well. The pool area is VERY noisy and I wished they had a "quiet" or "adults only" pool area. We rented mopeds and toured the Island. We snorkeled in many locations, but my favorite was Tobacco Bay. The shopping in Hamilton is fun as well. I am not a fan of the Freestyle Cruising idea. You must either make a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants (which, by the way, are very good but cost roughly $20-$25 pp) or wait for 45 min to an hour to be seated in the main restaurant. I feel like a snob saying this, but many of the passengers on the cruise appeared to have never dined in a restaurant other than a McDonald's or Wendy's. No one obeyed the "dress in business casual" for dinner. I saw men in wifebeaters and jean cutoffs, sporting huge sleeve tattoos and drinking beer out of giant helmets in the "dining room". I would say about 1/2 of the people on board are middle and upper middle class and the other half is cmprised of some very lowlife individuals who somehow managed to scape up (don't ask me how) the $1000 for the trip. I often heard people loudly swearing at each other in all areas of the ship...and talked with a man who said he asked one man who was dropping F-bombs to tone it down and received a blow to the face. There is no politically correct way to say this--but this cruise is loaded with white trash who do not know how to behave in public. Despite all of that. I sat with my book, read and drank pina coladas and "did my own thing". We had a good time overall.

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Jul 7, 2009

Bahamas

This was my first cruise leaving from NY going to Florida and then on to the Bahamas. It was over a year ago so I can remember all of the details but over all I had a wonderful time and NCL passed all of my expectations and now I am hooked on cruising. The food was great it passed my expectations considering the amount of people they had to prepare food for. We ate dinner in the main dinning room every single night and everything looked amazing.

The chocoholic buffet is a must so don't miss it. The burgers at the grill were good and the buffet had an amazing variety of items to choose from. There is something to suit every taste. We had an interior state room which was big enough for 2 people the bathroom was a little small but adequate. There was enough closet space for all of the clothes. Our room steward keep our room clean twice a day and left towel animals as well. There is a party every night, and many activities during the day. Things like trivia games and so forth. Do go to the margarita and martini tasting! It is well worth the money. In the Bahamas book an excursion with the ship. I would not risk getting left behind, it almost happened to one lady and she had to pay a large amount to make it back to the ship on her own. Do take a taxi over to Atlantis Paradise Island to look around if your docked in Nassau. Overall this trip was WONDERFUL

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Jun 23, 2009

NEW ORLEANS to BOSTON

My wift Patty and I have taken 9 cruises on NCL (8 were most enjoyable). Prior to our cruise on the NCL SPIRIT (New Orleans to Boston, April 19, 2009) every meal in the general dining rooms started off with the 'Freestyle' question: 'Will you share'? In this manner, we met many interesting people, some that we are still corresponding with and visiting. On the SPIRIT, the question was not used; every couple, instead, being sent directly to a table

for two. Once the tables for two were filled, then they were seated at larger tables, but still by themselves. Extensive badgering of various NCL personnel has revealed that this is, indeed, a new policy from Miami because someone in Miami thought that asking if one wanted to share was too conforming. The new definition from NCL would seem to be: 'FREESTYLE Dining, where you can Eat Alone and Like IT'! This is another example of marketing planning coming from headquarters without the benefit of asking any customers what they thought of it. The food was excellent; the service very good. Portions were well thought out. The room was completely as expected. Compact but comfortable. There are two general music channels on the system that reaches the staterooms. It would be nice if one of them had some classical music at least once in a while. Obviously, the music is programmed by very young people. This cruise did not have the same quality of lecturers; but was adequate. An excursion every other day was reasonable; we prefer days at sea. All aspects of the trip were most enjoyable with the exception of the 'Eat Alone and Like It' new dining policy.

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By Mark_CR

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Sep 29, 2007

Cruise to Nowwhere

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Cruise To Nowhere Mark Witzigman This was our second cruise (although it was only a one night trip).  Our first cruise was on the Carnival Legend from NY to the Caribbean, in 2006.  My wife and I went on this weekend cruise to nowhere to celebrate her birthday.  I booked the cruise online very early, so the rate was really good. We arrived in NYC by train and took a cab from

Penn Station to the pier, arriving about 11:20.  The cruise terminal was very busy as Holland America and Carnival had ships boarding in addition to the Norwegian Spirit.  We sat in the waiting room about a half hour before being boarded.  The customs and security procedures as well as Norwegian’s check in went very well and we were on the Spirit at noon.  The rooms could not be occupied until 2:00, so we headed to the buffet for lunch. The buffet was smaller than we expected and the food could be classified as just average.  We actually found the desserts to be below average.  When we were through, we explored the rest of the ship and made dinner reservations for the steakhouse.  We had looked at the menu for the main dining room and found the selections to be somewhat limited. At exactly 2:00, an announcement was made letting everyone know that you could go to your rooms.  We were in a balcony room on deck 9.  It was clean, but we did find some trash on the floor between the bed and sofa.  We did not care for the layout of the stateroom.  This however is personal preference.  If the sofa bed was in use, it would make getting to the balcony difficult.  The room was a bit smaller than the room we had on the Legend.  The bed was also quite uncomfortable. We settled in for a bit.  At 3:45, there was the announcement, covering all emergency procedures.  A drill was not required.  The ship was moving away from the dock at exactly 4:00, on time.  After we passed by the Statue of Liberty, we headed up to deck 12 where a poolside barbecue was going on.  We had some great ribs.  Then we headed up to the observation deck as we headed out to sea. Our dinner in the steakhouse was not as good as we had hoped.  The food was on par with a number of the steakhouse restaurant chains where we live.  It was not bad food, but it was not exceptional.  For entertainment, we went to the 9:45 comedy show.  This was very good.  Be warned, however, that you won’t be in you seat for 10 seconds before you are bombarded for drinks.  We had to tell 3 different servers that we needed more that a minute to look at the drink menu.  The 4th server just stood over us until we gave him an order.  Carnival does not push drinks in this manner. All in all, the staff we interacted with were nice and pleasant (except for the pushy servers at the show), both on the ship and at check in.  One area where the staff (security) on board should have done something is- We went to the rear deck early Sunday morning to see the sunrise.  We found 2 passengers passed out in chairs.  In fact, one still was holding tight to a beer bottle.  I think these passengers could have been escorted to their cabins. Would we sail NCL again?  I’d have to say no.  In fact, when I booked this cruise, I had booked the same room on the Spirit for the Florida/Bahamas cruise from NY, in July of 2008.  A short time later, NCL had a sale that brought the cruise down close to $300.  I was told that if there were any price drops prior to making my final payment, I would get the discount.  When I called, I was told this would not apply to this sale.  I asked about an on board credit and that was denied.  Finally, I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told they would not negotiate this issue.  Needless to say, I booked with Carnival once again and cancelled the NCL reservation.  NCL did not even ask a reason why.  I feel strongly they need to improve customer service and relations.    

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By Jung_CR

  • New

Jul 15, 2007

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Jung Benitez First of all,  I’d like to mention that this is my first ever “real cruise”. My wife and I have traveled  but  not  on  a cruise like this. What  better time to do it? I joined my  college classmates and  their  families to  celebrate  a sort of “ 20th  year  class reunion” aboard this  ship.  There were 33 people in our  group,  

12 kids, age ranging from  7,  to 18 and 21 adults. July 15, 2007, Sunday,  a  perfect departure day. Sunny, calm, clear skies. At 11: 15 am, we arrived at the  Port Authority around 11:35 and took  a cab straight to  the  “Pier” where the  Spirit was waiting. We met  some  members of our group already there, checked in our luggage and waited for the  actual embarkation process. I actually got worried a little bit w/ our friend from Chicago when she told me  she’s still  there boarding her flight to NYC. But  seasoned “ cruiser” as she is, she made it  just  in time. Anyway,  all 33 of us made it   to the  Spirit as it left the port on time at 4 pm, made  her way passed  Liberty,  went under  the Verrazano Bridge and to the  Atlantic Ocean. 1. Restaurants: we ate at Raffles Buffet, Blue Lagoon, Fine Dining like Windows, Garden, Le Bistro, La Trattoria and Shogun: I say  9, out of  10. They also had “ Chocoholic Festival”, that was “sweet “. 2.On board amenities like Tivoli adult Pool, the kiddy  mini water park,  Jacuzzis,  were a hit.  My son  enjoyed  them very much. 3. Shows: the  Hypnotist show, juggler,  Broadway like shows at the Stardust were very good. 4. Clubs /lounges/bars: The  Galaxy, Champagne Charlie  and Henry’s pub were cool. We had  fun w/ the  Bingo , 1 friend won. Good music . 9/10. 5.I used their gym, too ( after those calorie filled dinners), it was small but  good equipment , nice to  jog also  in the upper deck , open air. 9/10. 6. Went to their Casino once ( I’m not a roller, unfortunately) .Smoking was allowed there, well… 7. Kiddy stuff: I guess the kids had fun at the pool, video arcade,  card room, they certainly made numerous trips to the  Blue  Lagoon, ‘not sure  if  the  teens   tried the “celebrity teen disco”. 8. Karaoke: I’m  going give  this  perfect 10.  We had a blast . 9. Port Canaveral:  Nice. Coco Beach,  luke-warm water, did a little shopping ( my son  had a new Heely’s ) 8/10. 10. Nassau , Bahamas, enjoyed the snorkeling,  my son   saw a real starfish and  had picture taken. Snorkeling I give 9/10 and  the place  8/10. 11. Private island: clear, pristine water good for  relaxation, lounging,  snorkeling, night swimming , parasailing ( 2 of the kids  tried it, I guess ) , there’s even  a hammock in the island . 9 almost 10 for me. 12. The on sea “ voyage -   you’ll feel the ship sway the more  when you’re  in  the cabin, we brought our  son to the  medical center once for  Dramamine. I’m giving 8/10 for  this. 13.  The ship's crew: a perfect 10 for them. All the crew   specially the   waiters/waitresses  went  all  their way to  accommodate and cater to all our needs. 14. The  Cabins: 9/10. My son  liked those animal  shaped towels every night when we go back to the cabin. The bathrooms are clean, beds  newly made, everything nice and clean. 15. Others:   crew photographers: they’re all over the place and follow you like paparazzi except when you’re  back to your cabin of course. 7/10 because they’re quite pricey but  we still like it, we had our  first portrait taken as family. 16. The  arrival back to NYC on  July 21, 2007, Saturday  @  10 am  was a breeze  . I’ll give 10 to both embarkation and  debarkation. Am I going to  cruise w/ NCL again? Absolutely, the pluses exceeds  the  setbacks.    

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By Bob_CR

  • New

Jun 2, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Bob Left on Saturday afternoon out of NYC. Passing the WTC and Statue of Liberty took me away from "vacation" mode and caused me to reflect on 9/11 for a while. Once out to sea and clear of the visual reminders, it was time to learn the layout of the ship and see what we were in for. We were in a group of 40 ranging in age from 18 to 65. The weather was pretty

poor the first two days. There was a tropical depression pushing up the coast as we pushed south east to Bermuda. These two days on board were good being that my wife and I were looking to get some rest. There was plenty to do on board although it seemed like you were always funneled toward the casino. The casino was fine. Minimums were $10 on all tables except craps and Let it Ride.  Have to say that slots seemed loose in the beginning and tightened up as the trip went on. Never heard much screaming except the crap table on occasion. A lot of rules in the casino regarding height of dice being thrown, sunglasses, and watching others play. There was a blackjack tourney and two poker tourneys. Poker tourney was insane as blinds went through the roof within one hour. Felt very rushed. Food was good throughout the ship. Ate in all the special places and enjoyed the meals. I am easy to please though. Did see some nit pickers complaining. I am on vacation and complaining takes away from that. Beers ran about 6 bucks each on average. First time cruisers were a little caught off guard with pricing. Also note gratuity was already included in the total. Bermuda was experiencing rain but that did not stop us from going about. There is good shopping and browsing 5 minutes walk from the ship. Visited the Glassworks place and was quite intrigued with the art of making glass items. We bought one to bring home. If you take the ferry to the other side of the island supposedly prices were much lower on tourist purchases. Tortola was wonderful although the tour guide for our snorkeling excursion told us that the crime rate was growing. The excursion picked us up at the ship and we never went ashore so I can't validate any more or less. Island was beautiful though. St. Thomas. Save all your shopping dollars for St. Thomas. Bought 5 bottles of liquor at R.H. Riise and paid 1/3 of what I'd pay in NY. If you are buying jewelry, Little Switzerland seemed very busy and people were coming out with big smiles. One from our group bought a very expensive name brand watch and saved hundreds of dollars. Took the $20 bus tours of the island and it was worth every dollar.  Would liked to have spent more time on St. Thomas. None of the street vendors were pests either. They were quite polite and let you browse without making you uncomfortable. St. Thomas was the only place that my cell phone worked. Tried to call home to check in and had no luck anywhere else. Ship to shore phone calls were VERY expensive. This was an 8 day cruise and I could have easily done another 3 days. There were a number of "days at sea" and that made the trip more enjoyable. We had the opportunity to relax and lay poolside and up on the sun decks. Did not feel pressured by dinner times or getting on and off the ship too many times. The casino staff was a little stuffy for my personality. The wait staff was very nice as was the room attendants. Always had fresh towels and ice in the room. Thought the "soda package" was a little over the top on price. $70pp for the week. The best French Toast EVER in Raffles food court. I would do this trip again knowing the ship and the events on board.    

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Mar 24, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Geena My family and I traveled on the Norwegian Spirit March 24-April 1 out of NY. We had a great time and for the money, everything was nice. Leaving out of NY was a breeze. We drove our own car and it cost $24 per day to park – warning: the lot takes CASH only. The boarding process was pretty easy. We did get there around 11:30, which I thought would be too

early, but worked out perfectly. We did have to lug our carry-on luggage to lunch because the rooms were not ready until 2pm, but we finished lunch just in time for the rooms to be ready. I will give some advice to future travelers. If you are traveling with children, purchase a soda card. Even though my two teenage step-sons do not drink soda on a regular basis, we had no other choice but to buy them a soda card ($46). The only other thing to drink was water and unsweetened iced tea. I have been on other cruises that did offer a juice selection, so I was disappointed, but the boys got a soda card (at first we tried to scam the system and only get one a card and have him get soda for his brother, but teenagers are not sly and they kept getting caught). Also, bring plenty of hangers. There are 4 tiny drawers in the cabin and some shelves in the closet, but there is plenty of room in the closet and not enough hangers provided. So plan on hanging most of your stuff. Another thing, if you plan on eating at the specialty restaurants (which we did, but they were not anything spectacular) wake up early and make reservations. They only take reservations one day before and they fill up quickly. Although, you will go to any of these restaurants and they will tell you that they are full and do not have any openings until 9:30pm, but you will see a bunch of empty tables. Oh, and these tables will never become occupied (not while we ate at any of them anyway), but for some reason they will claim they are booked. My husband was very bothered by this. We ate at Cagney’s, which is a steak restaurant; I liked it, my husband was not impressed. There were at least 5 tables that remained empty our entire meal. The cover was $20. We also ate at Le Bistro, which is their French restaurant; the cover was also $20 and it was a very nice place, but nothing special. They had a hibachi style restaurant - $20 cover and save your money and go to Gasho of Japan or Benihana. The food was good, but the tricks were limited. The free restaurants were just as good. If you like to gamble, the casino was nice. Small, but nice. If you play slots, play the first day on board and that’s it. It seems that they only paid out the first day and not after. The tables had a high minimum and there were not a lot of them. We stuck to playing Bingo, which they had everyday. Bingo tip-get the machine and not the cards. Only one person on our ship won with the cards. The machine takes all the fun out of the game, but if you want to win you need it. If you plan on staying in touch or doing any work on board, there is an internet café. We bought the 250 minutes for $100. We thought we would check our email often, but never really did and had 40 minutes remaining at the end of the vacation. Though be warned that the connection is rather slow. I cannot really comment on the shore excursions for St. Thomas and Tortola because we did our own thing. But in Samana, we did the beach shore excursion. The island they took us to was beautiful and it seemed to be perfect because there were amenities, beach chairs, places to eat and places to shop. We got a spot at the end of the beach, which had a bunch of small piles of garbage. The people that were working the food areas and the stores were absolutely horrible. If you do not have exact change, they will try and rip you off. It was our last stop and I still had some gifts to buy, but I refused to give any of those people my money. I will also never plan a vacation to the Dominican Republic. Our balcony room was what I expected. I loved the bathroom; I know that is strange, but I have been on two other cruise lines and this bathroom was huge compared to those. The shower had a sliding door and the toilet was also in its own little room with a sliding door. Overall, we did enjoy our cruise for what it was.    

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Mar 10, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Mrs. Doran A group of 14 people joined myself and my new husband aboard the Spirit for a post wedding celebration. Upon arriving at the NYC port, we were greeted by baggage handlers who were laughing at the tips that were given by our guests. I found this to be a bad start of our vacation. As we entered the terminal, we were herded like cattle, to rush to sit in

chairs and wait to be called to board the vessel. Once we made it through the very long line, ( there is a separate line for Latitudes members, which I am a member), but I didn't want to leave those who weren't behind, everything seemed to go much smoother. *ROOMS* We were able to go right to our rooms, which were a mix of 10th floor balcony rooms, and a couple of 5th floor inside state rooms. The rooms were adequate. There isn't much room for storing your luggage, or your clothing. *FOOD* The buffet in Raffles is good for a quick bite, but after a few days the selection didn't seem to change. I would recommend the stir-fry station. I only ate in one specialty restaurant, Cagney's Steakhouse, and it was fantastic! All of the other nights we ate in Windows, which was very nice as well. *CASINO* Didn't spend much time in here because of how smokey it was, go in the morning if you don't like the smell of cigarettes. *POOL/HOT TUBS* Couldn't even get near them as the college spring breakers took them over. Why the staff lets people bring drinks into the hot tubs to float the empties around in when they are done is beyond me. *PORTS OF CALL* St Thomas/Tortola/Samana Bay We enjoyed all of them. We only did one excursion, Castaway Girl catamaran sail and snorkel in St Thomas. Very nice. Others in our group went horseback riding in Samana. They had a good time. If you are adventurous and aren't set on doing shore excursions, wait until you get to the islands and get a tour from the locals. We did this in Tortola and Samana and we saw sights that I don't think every tourist sees. All three islands has beautiful beaches. FYI Magen's Bay beach closes at 5pm!! *ENTERTAINMENT* The shows were great. My husband was hypnotized by Tim Triplett. The last night of there was a compilation of all shows. That was nice. *DISEMBARKATION* Smoothest sailing of the whole trip.    

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Nov 9, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Bambi The 10 day cruise out of New York was fantastic. Embarkation was easy. The wait was only about 45 minutes in line. Everything was very organized. Once on board we had about an hour until we could get into our room. We had a balcony and it was worth the extra money. Our next cruise we are going to try an inside room to compare how much we will or will not

miss the balcony. The Raffles buffet was fantastic. They had a large selection of entrees such as prime rib, roast pork, turkey, ham, a choose your own and made to order pasta bar,  stir fry bar, fresh fruits, breads, salad bars to die for. They aslo had dessert tables, bread selections, ice cream bar and more.... We did not even bother going to one of the dining rooms until our 4th night on the ship. The two major dining rooms, Windows and The Garden Room, are beautifully decorated and the wait staff is professional and friendly. They offer 5 course meals. The portions may look small when presented to you but by the time you finish all the courses you are stuffed. You can order more than the five courses also. Triple entrees are no problem. They are more than happy to bring you extra. Our favorite server was Eileen. I cannot comment on the specialty restaurants. There didn't seem to be any reason to make reservations and pay the extra charges to eat there when there was such a selection to choose from at the included ones. The Blue Lagoon (near the casino) has great food too. I feel in love with the rice. We ended up eating that as a snack every night. No charge at the Blue Lagoon. If you want formal photo's taken, you will have the opportunity almost every night. They have beautiful backgrounds that they set up each night. The quality of the finished product rivals the professionals. The are a bit pricey. Most of the 8 x 10's are about $25.00 but if you plan on it ahead of time, it is worth the price for some great shots. They also take pictures at every port and all day and all night. You never know when there is a camera pointed your way. It is fun going to the gallery and trying to find yourself among the hundreds of other pictures. The pool is beautiful but it is very salty. There are 4 hot tubs located around it. I did not use the spa services but friends of ours did and they are great. You can get hair cuts, color, styles, pedicures, manicures, wraps, massages, teeth whitening... you name it, they do it. The shows were really good. The performers put their hearts into everything they do. We saw comedians and magicians that were amazing. The rooms were well taken care of. The only problem we had (and it was a small problem) was in the bathroom at the bottom of the door. There was a spot rusted out on the inside of the door. It did not bother us but some people might get picky. The tiled showers were clean and nice. We did some planned shore excursions and we also did some tours on our own. We enjoyed it both ways. There are so many excursions you can do it can get confusing. The staff at the excursion desk was really helpful. Be patient and wait in line if you have questions. If you don't want to wait in line, they have a kiosk right next to the desk where you can book them on your own. I will definitely sail with NCL again and again. There is never a dull moment. If you want activity all day it is there. If you want to do nothing but rest then there are plenty of places to do that too. Enjoy your cruise and maybe we will see you there !!!!    

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By Joel_CR

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Oct 8, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Joel Sasser We have been on five cruises including two on NCL, one on Royal Caribbean and one on Holland America. We chose this cruise mainly because it left out of New York and because we are beach lovers and the itinerary was the Southern Caribbean. Embarkation We booked a suite at the front of the ship. Cabin 10500 to be exact. As it was one of the “penthouse

suites”, embarkation was a breeze. NCL had a separate line for suites and we walked onto the ship within ten minutes after arriving at the embarkation terminal. Rooms were to be ready at 3PM; however ours was ready by 1PM. Cabin The room was fantastic! Granted, it was a suite, but it was much more than I had expected. It appeared to be about 2 and one half times the size of a standard cabin. The dining area (table for 4 and bar complete with crystal stemware and refrigerator) and living room (sofa, two chairs, coffee table and end tables), occupied one side of the suite. A large picture window and a door to an outside balcony were at one end of the cabin. We were concerned with wind because our balcony was on the front of the ship but it never seemed to be much of a problem. It does get wet if it rains however and the Captain and crew can look down onto your balcony as they are located one deck up and from their area angle down. A door led into the bedroom and bath. The bathroom had a large separate toilet room, a walk in shower that could hold 4 people (including exceptionally good water pressure), double sinks with plenty of countertop and a hot tub that would probably hold 4 people. From the hot tub you can look across the room out of a large window at the ocean. The bathroom is open to the bedroom which seems odd until you see how wonderfully designed it is. The bedroom contained a wall of cabinets with five drawers, and lots of hanging space. The bed was a queen, with a beautiful, demure silk bedspread and luxurious linins and pillows. We were on a 12 day trip so traveled with 3 good size pieces of luggage and 2 carry on bags which all fit under the bed easily. A large picture window looks out directly over the bow of the ship. Restaurants Raffles (ho hum). However that being said, it is good for a varied and easy breakfast. Not great but not terrible. We did not eat any meals in the main dining rooms (Windows or Garden), but chose to eat in restaurants each night. While there is a surcharge, it is minimal and well worth the attentive individual service and the better choices of food. Our favorite was Le Bistro. A French inspired menu, an attentive friendly staff, a beautiful, intimate dining room and excellent food. A close second was Cagneys. It seemed a little strange to have a steakhouse called Cagneys decorated in an Asian theme but even so it was a beautiful room and again, marvelous service and excellent food. We were not as impressed with Shogun which is really three restaurants (sit down traditional, sushi bar or a Beni-Hanna type. We ate at the traditional sit down and found the food good, but not exceptional. The sushi bar was excellent. They also served food at the Bier Garden and had an alternating BBQ, stir-fry, taco service at the pool each day which was very nice. We were very disappointed in the Italian Restaurant when we found that they just closed a part of Raffles and provided the same food as you could get in the cafeteria styled Raffles right across the hall. Entertainment We loved Second City (improvisational)! We saw two of their shows and found it very entertaining. The NCL dancers also put on several shows (we saw two), which were very, very professionally done and entertaining. Many people on the ship were talking about how much they enjoyed it. Spa and gym The Spa was nice but not exceptional. We used it several times and enjoyed it; however it could be taken very easily to another level. Of all of the ships we’ve been on, this Spa was our least favorite. The “relaxation room” where you wait for your services is like a doctor’s waiting room with a TV and bright lights. Lounge chairs, relaxing music, water with cucumbers, incense, etc., would have transformed the room much nicer. Treatment rooms are also very much like a doctors exam room. I hear the women’s side of the Spa is much nicer. An adequate sauna and steam are available. The gym was adequate. Not extensive, but with a dozen or so treadmills, Stairmasters, elliptical, etc., a rack of dumb bells, two benches and about ten or so universal type machines. It did the job just fine, but was not anything exciting. Pool and outdoor entertainment Pool was very nice with plenty of chairs. Our cruise was not completely full so did not seem to have any problem with people saving chairs. For sunning you can be outside on the pool deck (pool and four hot tubs), around the beer garden (open to the pool one deck above), or along the read of the ship where there is a kids pool and play area. There is a basketball court (ho hum), a golf driving cage (ho hum) and not much else for outdoor entertainment. Staff Without question, the staff on this ship was the nicest, most attentive and helpful that we have ever experienced. Our concierge Lisa, was incredible. She visited us regularly, gave us tips and guided us through the trip and even arranged for food and a bar at a private cocktail party that we had in our room for 15 guests. On the first night we met one of the entertainers (Carl) who then introduced us to several others who made us feel at home and made this trip really special. Several were dancers and entertainers working for NCL and others were entertainers under contract and we developed a routine of meeting in one of the clubs late in the evening and it was one big party with guests and entertainers mixing. What fun!! Our room’s stewards could not have been better. Our room was immaculate and cleaned at least twice daily. After our cocktail party, we left for dinner and upon return two hours later found our room completely put back together and in perfect shape). The staff on this ship truly made this one of our best cruises. While this is not the largest or most dazzling ship we’ve been on, it is beautiful and elegant.    

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Sep 16, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Kathy Our former cruises had been on the Carnival Pride, Carnival Legend, NCL Dawn and this cruise on the Spirit. My husband and I were severely disappointed with the ship itself. We both felt this was because of the age of the ship (1998). All our other cruises had been on brand new or close to brand new ships. We were in cabin 9606 portside, mid-ship. Excellent location,

near the elevators. The bed had me in severe back pain by the 2nd day. The bathroom was tight to say the least. If you have long legs you cannot sit squarely on the toilet. Your knees will be hitting the wall. The shower stall was small but you could amply move around in it. Our balcony was extremely small. They simply had two lawn chairs and a tiny table. We had a mini-suite on the Dawn so it would be tough to compare balcony sizes on the Norwegian line. The crew members were absolutely fantastic. I can't say enough about how gracious they all were. We saw two shows that were great. A husband and wife singing team, Patti & Jose, entertained everyday in the Galaxy of the Stars. They were great, great, great! They sang a little bit of everything. They talked with guests in between sets. The food was fine. Neither one of us had any complaints about the quantity or quality of the food. The coffee was awful. I brew the same coffee in our cabin and it's great. You go upstairs to the buffet and it is absolutely awful. The unfortunate part of this cruise was the drink prices. A friend of ours had been on the Dawn in March and said they raised the prices. We thought maybe the prices would drop in September. We were WRONG. A soda card for the week for an adult was $48 plus gratuity. A bucket (6 beers) of domestic beer was $19.75 plus gratuity, imports $22.75 plus gratuity. The bottles of wines started at $24 and I believe there were only 2 wins that were $24. One employee told me they took the cheap wines off the ship and now keep only the $36 plus bottles on board. The employees are given a quota on drink orders so all they do is pester the hell out of you asking if you want a drink. Then when you're sitting there with a bucket of beer and you've only had 2 of them, they're pestering you to refill the bucket. We chose the Spirit for the itinerary (St. Thomas, Tortolla and Bermuda) and the fact that we were able to book at a group rate with our local radio station. Would I cruise this ship again - no. The specialty restaurants we did not eat in but I looked at the menu at Cagney's and at Shogun. Cagney's was $20 per person, $25 if you wanted a lobster (1 1/2 lbs). Seems a bit expensive to me. I got a flier for the sushi side of Shogun which was hugely disappointing. They wanted from $8 up based on the sushi they made or ala carte at like $2 each. No soup, no dessert. On the Dawn last year I paid $10, it was all you could eat, I got miso soup as a starter, got to pick and choose from a variety of sushi and sashimi (the cook also asked what I liked and made me some extra goodies) and got green tea for dessert. It was a lovely experience. Base your excursions on what you want to do in each port. All the stores in St. Thomas close at 5 p.m. (the Havensight mall next to our ship stayed open until 7 the night we were there, but the ones on Main Street closed at 5). We took a submarine excursion for 3 hours and only had time to shop in the Havensight mall. If you like happy hour, the bar next to Al Cohen's liquor store has a happy hour from 3 to 6:30 $2 a beer for domestic beer. I've been told if you love beaches you will love Tortolla. We are not beach folks, but this is what we've heard the two times we've been in tortolla. Bermuda was a gorgeous as ever. We did a glass bottom boat and snorkel excursion which was great. It was supposed to be 3 hours but the crew kept us out for longer as everyone was enjoying snorkeling. I hope this helps anyone looking at the different ships.  

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Aug 19, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Sharie Likes- The entertainment was excellent, especially the Hypnotist. The staff was nice. The ship was pretty. Dislike- The ship was dirty!!! The elevators were never cleaned, there were finger prints everywhere. The cabins were way to small. It was like sleeping 4 in a closet. The bathrooms stunk like urine & feces. The free style cruise is not what it seems. It's only

good if you like to eat buffet. Mostly pasta, pizza & hambergers) were offered, the dining room hours were very limited. Food choices were very limited. Everything cost extra (4 restaurants with better food, cost $12-20 per person more. (all 4 of us got sick-my husband & son violently threw up) I will try another cruise line before giving up . The ports were nice but not enough time at them.  

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Aug 13, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Steve Let me begin by saying that I was concerned by the reviews that I read on this site prior to travel on the Spirit. But…glad my family and I were able to enjoy the cruise and found most of the complaints not evident on our trip. We flew to NYC on Sunday, hired a taxi to the pier and practically walked onto the boat around 12:30pm, minor wait for photographs –

seems to be what the cruise ships love to do. Our room was not ready until 2pm, so we got lunch, explored the boat, signed up for shore excursions and specialty restaurants and then headed to our rooms. The room - The room was decent sized, having traveled Europe quite a bit, this room was not much different then top hotels there. Not sure who said the closet space was not enough, they must have packed their entire closet with them. My wife and I had room for about 20 items to hang, along with shelves for storage – bring some extra hangers to hang more – plenty of room. There could be more drawers for storage. The room was clean and had a great balcony. The bed already had the extra foam on it and it was fine from a comfort perspective. The stewards kept them clean, and the kids in the attached room loved the towel animals. The food - Lots of complaints in previous reviews – again think they were a bit critical, it was fine. Raffles was good for breakfast and lunch, for dinner we ate at either the main dining rooms or one of the specialty restaurants. The only so-so meal was the lasagna. Service in the main dining rooms varied from outstanding to slow – most of the time it was good. We loved the freestyle dining as we have 2 kids with us and like the flexibility. Oh…by the way – the coffee was hot and decent, no Starbucks here, but it was good. The best deal on the boat for drinks is the 6 beers for $18…we had a beer in NYC on our return and it was $7.50 at our hotel…so not bad on the boat. Wine was in the mid $30s for a decent bottle. The excursions - These went off without a hitch, went to a water park in Florida and swimming with the Sting Rays in Bahamas – both were without any issues and were enjoyable. The private island was also great, we went out around 10am and had no problem getting chairs and rafts, again different then what had been reported. The shows were pretty good. The magician and ventriloquist were very funny and kid friendly, missed the Second City. The Liars Club on Thursday was hilarious, but not kid friendly and the final show on Friday evening had some technical issues and was only ok. The kids club – This was fun, the kids enjoyed themselves, but given the other things we did they only used it a few times. The staff - Our experience was that they were very helpful and friendly.    

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By Ann_CR

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Jul 26, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Ann This cruise was great!  I just returned from NCL's Spirit Eastern Caribbean cruise, it was wonderful! The boat, staff, food and service, so I can't believe the bad reviews, I had a great time with about a thousand other people.    

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Jul 16, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Brenda Baker My whole family enjoyed this cruise. The only thing we had a problem with was the cabin size. We had an interior cabin for 4 people and it was way too small. The food on the ship was okay. The specialty restaurants offered a little better tasting food. You still end up eating every hour. The kids program was good although I think Carnival offers a little more

for the very young kids(9 and below). My 11 yr old had fun in the camp and on the pool water slides. I enjoyed alot of the activities. The comedians, Seymour and Alfred were outrageously funny. The itinerary was great. We visited Disney World which of course was fun. Then Atlantis aquarium in the Bahamas which was fascinating for the kids. A definite must see. I have to say that my favorite stop was on NCL's private Island. It was amazingly fun. We went over to the Island on a small tender at night. It was a little spooky but so fun! You get to the Island at night then get to enjoy it the following day too. The night time activities on the island include a limbo, tug of war dancing and of course shopping. It was fun! The daytime activities on the Island were: parasailing, sunbathing, snorkeling, dancing, swimming, jet-ski rentals, tube rentals for floating in the water and of course shopping. There was food and drinks on the island and you were able to use your room key card for purchasing items and beverages. All in all I would definitely recommend this itinerary and cruise line but I would opt for either 2 cabins or a bigger one. Oh wait....one more thing. The staff on this cruise ship wasn't very helpful. They didn't look too happy most of the time. Well happy cruising!      

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Jul 16, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Brendan I went on this cruise with my girlfriend, Michelle, and two friends of ours. I have only been on one other cruise aboard the Carnival Victory, but I will provide a detailed account of my experiences for both people who are considering a cruise aboard the Norwegian Spirit, as well as for people who have already booked the cruise, and are interested in learning a bit

more about what to expect. Before continuing, the most important thing I want to emphasize is that PRICE is very relevant. I paid $1600 for my Carnival cruise, and less than $800 for NCL, so keep in mind that everything I say is relative. Embarkation – I arrived at the port early and expected to beat the crowds, but despite getting there at around 12:30, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to board the ship. If you are getting dropped off at the port, you can drive right up to the drop-off point. However, beware of the PARKING sign that leads you to a lot that costs $22, even if you are only there for 5 minutes. Rooms – We got a basic cabin with a small window (not a porthole) on the 5th floor. The cabin was pretty tight, but you can’t really expect a huge room on any ship unless you pay for the suite. Our room stewards were great and the room was always spotless. I have no complaints about anything involving our room, and can’t recall a single steward who did not greet me with a smile or a hello each morning. Dining – NCL features a unique Freestyle Cruising that allows you to eat your dinner at different times and different places each night. Raffles Buffet (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner), Windows (B,L,D), The Garden Room, Trattoria, and The Blue Lagoon Cafe were the eating venues available to all free of charge. The “Specialty Restaurants” included Cagney’s Steakhouse, Teppanyaki, Shogun’s, Le Bistro, and a Sushi Bar. Raffles – This was a buffet-style cafeteria, similar to a college dining hall. I read many reviews about the food before my cruise and so many complained about how bad Raffles was. IT’S A BUFFET, so you can’t expect the greatest food in the world, and quite frankly its not. However, for breakfast they have made to order omelets and waffles which were VERY good. I also enjoyed the croissants and fresh fruit. For lunch there was a wide array of foods. Again they had made to order stations for sandwiches, pasta, and Caesar salad, which were all very good. The last day there was a Fajita/Quesadilla station, which was very good. The rest of the food was mediocre at best. We never dined here for dinner. Windows/Garden Room – These two restaurants were the two main dinner venues. They serve the EXACT same menu, however, there are some significant differences. Windows is located directly above the engine and there is lots of engine noise and even some vibration through the floor that makes your dining experience a little more unpleasant than it should be. The Garden Room seems to be the more popular of the two places (we had to wait approximately 20 minutes to be seated one night). We never ate lunch at either place, but this was our usually where we went for dinner. The food was OK. You could order as many appetizers as you wanted, and even multiple entrees if you so desired, and if you are the least bit hungry, you will. If you are a shrimp lover like myself, you will be extremely disappointed, and maybe even humored if you order the shrimp cocktail the first night. What they serve you if a plate of about 10-12 baby shrimp (yes the TINY ones you sometimes find atop a salad). I read this in a review before the cruise and wondered if it was an exaggeration. It’s not. If you read this review, and then order it on the first night, you too will laugh when the waiter brings your “shrimp cocktail” out. Beware, the portions are small for most appetizers, but again, you can order several each night. The main entrees were not very good in my opinion. I had prime rib one night, which was definitely more like a pot roast and some other inferior cut of thin meat that certainly would not qualify as a prime rib. The lobster was rubbery and didn’t taste like real lobster. I love lobster and I raved to Michelle about how good it is (she had never had it before), but she was not very impressed when I gave her a taste. I also ordered a steak one night, medium, and when I got it, it wasn’t red or juicy at all, but instead, very dry. Blue Lagoon – This is a 24-hour café, and serves some decent snack foods including burgers, dogs, fries, potato skins, wings, chili, shepherds pie, won ton soup, and fried rice to name most. Again, this is free and you can order as much as you want, which you will want to do because an order of wings consists of 3 small wings. However, it’s not a problem to order 2, 3, or 4 orders. This place was typically crowded from 10-12 every night and the waits were between 10-20 minutes for food. Specialty Restaurants – The menu at Windows one night looked really bad (French themed night) so we decided to try Cagney’s Steakhouse ($20 cover charge) and this was the best decision we made all cruise. I ordered the lobster and Michelle had the 24-oz Porterhouse steak. Michelle summed it up best when we were eating and she said, “I feel like we are on a different ship.” This food was excellent. My 1 ½ lb lobster was superb and I also ordered crab cakes, shrimp cocktail (actual large shrimp cocktail), and clam chowder for appetizers. All were fantastic. On the final night, we ate at the Sushi bar. This is a must for any sushi lover. Although it requires and extra charge, it is extremely cheap ($2 for a 6 piece sushi roll – the cost of a Coke). If I could do it all over again, I probably would have done more of the Specialty restaurants. In retrospect, I could have spent an additional $100 dollars and spent $885 for the cruise instead of $775 and ate great dinners each and every night. Drinks/Alcohol – At the buffet, for breakfast there is water, and juices (Orange, Apple, and Cranberry). For lunch and dinner, there is only water and iced tea. Also, there is Milk, Tea and Coffee. Soda and alcohol are at an additional cost. I only drank beer, so I can only comment on that, although Michelle did order a $9 specialty drink (Bahama Mama) that she said contained little or no alcohol (and that’s saying a lot considering she is a lightweight). The beers were about 5 dollars apiece, but the best deal was to get a bucket of 6 beers for about 20 dollars. I have mixed feelings about the bar staff. Some were nice and friendly and asked me politely if I wanted a drink or if they could fill my bucket. Others pestered me continuously and I felt like I had a target on my back when I was carrying an empty yellow bucket around (presumably this is where they get their biggest gratuity, which is factored in to your bill). If you are curious about bringing alcohol aboard, you can’t. They will remove any glass bottles of liquor from your bag and return them to you at the end of the cruise. However, it is very, very, very easy to bring water bottles of liquor on board. Fitness/Recreation - The Tivoli pool is filled with salt water and is small and usually very crowded. There were 4 hot tubs at each corner of the pool, but more often than not they were filled with young children. Additionally, the 13th deck had a basketball court as well as 3 golf cages, both which were usually littered with young children. The gym was small and contained a half dozen or so treadmills and elliptical machines and only a few free weights. It did have 2 endless pools (swim treadmills). Ports of Call Port Canaveral Florida – We went to Cocoa Beach for the day, and they must have brought us to the dirtiest part of the beach. Disappointing to say the least. Nassau, Bahamas – We were only here for 5 hours, which was not a lot of time, but we did manage to go on a Sail and Snorkel, which was amazing. A catamaran took us out to a coral reef and we swam with hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous fish that would swim literally within inches of your body. On the return trip, they put the sail up and we cruised back, enjoying free rum punch. Definitely a worthwhile trip, although it was a shame we were on the island for such a short time afterwards. Great Stirrup Cay (Private Island) – We were arrived here at 7pm on Wednesday and left at 1 pm on Thursday. It’s a nice little island, but its gets absolutely packed. If you don’t get on one of the first few tenders, you won’t have a chair as they go fast. Just a heads up, the “snorkeling” on the island that cost $30 consists of them giving you a mask and fins and pointing to an area about 30 yards from the beach where 100s of other people are snorkeling. Chocoholic Buffet – This is apparently an NCL trademark and they tell you to go to the showing of the buffet before it begins to take pictures and to marvel at it. We never did this because the line was up the stairs and a deck long just to get in to see it. We did, however, go to the buffet after it had been opened for a while. By the time we arrived, there was nothing spectacular to see, mainly because of the disgusting amounts of food that people were taking. We did eat a few things, but nothing was spectacular and it all seemed to taste the same. Maharajas Casino – It’s a pretty decent size casino for a ship with tons of slot machines ranging from 1 cent to 100 dollars, as well as Blackjack, craps, roulette, and even a 5/10 Limit Holdem table. HINT: (This is mainly for any novices) If you go to the casino when it opens on the first day, each dealer will teach you how to play each game. Additionally, at the end of each demo, they will give you a coupon for 5 free dollars to bet with for each game you “learn.” Entertainment/Shows – I’ll keep this short. Dr. Trance was a hypnotist who had a two shows (one PG, one adult) and they were both very funny and a hit with the crowd. Seymour and Alfred were a comic duo who were absolutely hilarious. I don’t know of a single person who disliked them and their shows were clean for the kids (although I think some jokes may go over their heads). The Broadway type shows were eh. The actors seemed to be trying hard, but they just weren’t very talented. The “Second City” comic group wasn’t bad…they were HORRIBLE. I read a review before my cruise that said they were bad and that was an understatement. So many people walked out on them, it was embarrassing. Do NOT waste your time. I didn’t stay until the end, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had told me they were booed off the stage. Customer Service – First off, NCL includes a $10/day/person fee in your bill that covers food and room service tipping. Apparently this could be adjusted either way, but we didn’t bother. I’m still torn about my opinion of the staff. It’s very difficult to judge them as a whole because some were extremely friendly, while others seemed impatient, unfriendly, and annoying. The reception desk was particularly unfriendly as one lady even snapped at Michelle for asking a question. Disembarkation – We chose “Express Disembarkation” which meant that we carried our own bags off the ship. It was a matter of minutes between the time we left our room with our luggage, and the time we were on the road heading home. Overall opinion – Like I said before, it’s important to keep one thing in mind, and that’s the fact that we booked this cruise for a pretty cheap price. This price of the cruise was a good value, and the cruise itself was just that – good. Not awesome, not great, not horrible, just good. If I had paid a ton of money for this cruise, I probably would upset at what I got, but very simply, you get what you pay for, and all in all, I did have fun.    

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Jul 16, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Jennifer TRAVEL TO DEPARTURE PORT. This was my second cruise with NCL. I like this line for it's free style dining as well as departure ports. I have a fear of flying so I like to depart from a port that is easily accessible by car , bus or train. We live in Massachusetts, about 30 miles from Providence, Rhode Island and Boston. Last cruise we left from Boston. This time NYC.

We took the Amtrak train from Providence into Penn station (3.5 hours) Left Providence at 7:20 arrived in NYC at 10:50. I found a great deal on the Amtrak website. $48.00 for adults and $12 for the kids. This was our first time on the train so we weren't sure how the kids would like it. We decided to get one way tickets and decide on the mode of transportation for the return trip later. Since the departure port was New York we thought we might try to grab a hotel room in the city for a day or two after the cruise (we did not end up doing that and opted to grab the next train home after the trip just because we were tired and I didn't want to spend any more money) The train was great! We ended up taking it back as well and just bought our tickets at Penn Station. Easy. Relaxing. Kids loved it. No stress. Once you get to Penn Station it is very easy to find a cab to the port as the cabs are waiting right outside and are ready to help with your luggage( I recommend Amtrak redcap service if you have a lot of bags, they are friendly and professional and helpful. We gave a $10.00 tip and believe me it was well worth it. It was a quick $7.00 cab ride to departure port. Getting on the ship was a breeze. Our bags were already in our room when we arrived there at two o'clock. We had an ocean view triple 6026. Beds were very comfortable. Bathroom was small but the shower was great, nice and big. Next time I will absolutely get a balcony room. They looked great. ON BOARD The ship is beautiful. So much for adults and kids to do together. We were with our 9 year old daughter. In addition to swimming in the pools, basking in the sun and drinking Pina Coladas while listening to the live band, we also :played bingo, went to the casino, the video arcade, made a dance heads video in Champagne Charlie's, lounged in the observatory and drank champagne, danced to live music in the star dust theater, saw the hilarious comedy of Alfred and Seymore, shopped, had our pictures taken in the beautiful atrium and shopped some more. FUN, FUN, FUN on board the ship. FOOD I love to eat but am also very weight conscious and did not want to gain the 10 pounds everyone says you gain on these cruises. I did not want to focus on food but rather on fun. My husband, on the other hand, loves to focus on food. It was the best of both worlds. The buffet was great and had a wide variety of items to choose from, ranging from bran cereal with skim milk and fresh fruit to bacon, sausage and made to order omelet's. Lunch and Dinner was the same from salads to pasta, meats and fish... something for everyone. ITINERARY Port Canaveral - we went to Seaworld, saw Shamu and got pearls from oysters and had them made into a necklace and ring. Nassau - shopping - if we had more time would have like to explore the island more. Castaway Cay - we opted to stay on board the first night and hang by the pool. I was leery about taking a nine year old on a tandem at night but lots of people did and everyone came back. The next day we went over to the island. Beautiful. We went snorkeling. Again would have liked more time. OVERALL- GREAT cruise, awesome ship, ok food in the buffet, nice itinerary but not enough time in the ports, felt somewhat rushed. Also many of the shore excursions we wanted were sold out, like the Dolphin Encounter... make sure you sign up early....also reservations for the specialty restaurants fill up early as well... we were not able to get into any of the specialty restaurants as they were all booked by Wednesday for the entire cruise. All in all a great trip and a very good value. Can't wait to go on the next cruise next time we want to try the NCL's Dawn.    

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Jun 17, 2006

Cruise to Nowhere

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Nowhere MARK M. RUBIN AND JOANNE SCHEIDT I purchased this overnight cruise to "Nowhere" as a birthday gift for Joanne. At least, she thought it was a novel idea. Also, we were considering booking a January, 2007 cruise on NCL on a new ship to the southern Caribbean and wanted to try out NCL and see how we liked it. I have sailed with NCL before, to the western Caribbean, and was not

greatly impressed. But that was four years ago and I thought they might have improved their offerings. As "west siders" (NYC), it was easy to hail a taxi and take a short ride to the west side cruise terminal where a huge traffic jam was awaiting us at the entrance to the piers. Two other ships were parked there so there was a lot of activity. We later learned that the Spirit had arrived in New York late, that morning, and was still trying to off load passengers. Off loading couldn't have been to swift because passengers were still coming out at noon. Our cab driver was smart. He turned into a side street and apologized for making us walk across the street where we entered the piers quite easily. There we encountered a long, slow moving line for check in. Eventually we made it to a counter where a pleasant young man checked our tickets and issued us plastic, on board, room key/credit cards. We had to sit and watch the disembarking passengers for a while. Finally, at twelve thirty P.M., they lead the "Latittude Club" passengers to the front of the line and let them board followed by the rest of us, many of whom had not yet checked in and had to stay on a long line to get to the check in desks. Having cruised with Celebrity, Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean (among others) over many years, already we were not impressed. On board, at last, we found that cabins were not ready, not even to drop off luggage. Because this was a simple overnight cruise, people were using carry on bags and didn't have to submit to any baggage handling. No, there was no tray of cold champagne awaiting us at the top of the boarding ramp, or should I have said the "plank". No stewards to help you find your cabin which mattered not because you couldn't get into it anyway. We took our carry-on's and went up a spacious elevator to the Raffles buffet. For new or unfamiliar new "cruisers" this buffet may have been O.K. but for those of us who have used quality cruise lines, it was like school cafeteria food. Can't NCL figure out how to make a hot cup of coffee? There was some beef stew, possibly canned, and fried fish left over from the night before. Other treats at the buffet included Kraft macaroni and cheese (much loved by someone's grandchild) and little else. Your could get a cheese sandwich, a ham sandwich, a ham and cheese sandwich or a cheese and ham sandwich. Salad bar was available featuring some cubed feta cheese and wilted olives. A dessert choice of different flavors of Jello that looked like what is served in nursing homes. There was a burger and chicken bar-b-que in the process of set up by pool side but nothing was ready yet. That means that the burgers were not yet totally black in color and cooked to death. The chef must have worked in a crematorium. At two P.M. the cabins were made available although they were clearly ready much earlier. We were tired from schlepping around our carry-on bags and went to 5072 to drop off the bags. The cabin had two smallish beds and an overhead pull down bed for a third person. The beds were not together, as we had asked. The rest of the cabin was comfortable with adequate, if not impressive, space. No refrigerator bar (which I never use anyway) a small T.V. The Air Conditioning was turned off as though they thought that no one was going to use that cabin but it quickly cooled when we turned it on. We washed up and went "up top" for the sailing out of New York harbor. It's a great sight to see the skyline and the Statue Of Liberty and sail under the Verazzano Bridge into the calm Atlantic. A walk around the ship revealed a well appointed, clean, attractive vessel with attractive facilities, clubs and decoration. Nothing like the classic beauty of a Celebrity or Holland America ship, but reasonable. Time for a quick dip in the undersized, overheated pool. Un-shaded jacuzzi were too hot and not busy. The pool was salt water and already occupied by lots of people with bottles of beer in their hands although the NCL announcement pleaded with the passengers to not bring glass objects to poolside. The request was universally ignored and there was no crew member to enforce the rule. I had an overpriced, but tasty, Pina Colada even though my gastroenterologist said to keep off alcohol. It came in a "souvenir" glass that will be moved from the cupboard when the painters next come. Dinner: "Foodies" must avoid NCL. The dinner reminded me of something my Grandmother would have served. Bad food and small portions. The Caesar salad? Et Tu Brute? Where were the anchovies? The Caesar dressing was either Kraft or some supermarket brand. I had the flank steak. I think it was out-flanked by the enemy and soundly defeated. At least the "medium rare" request was honored. The waiter, Nelson, was good and attentive but the buss girl was as lost as a deer in the headlights. The chocolate souffle dessert reminded me of the Drakes Devil Dogs I liked as a kid. Show Time: The 7:30 show was a full dancer and singer production show. Actually well done, if you don't mind canned music and lip sincing. Nice costumes and a sincere effort. Why do some people knock cruise ship entertainment so? After the show I spent about six minutes in the crowded casino where I won $10 on a slot. Noisy craps shooters were arguing with the table pit boss over not paying "fair" odds on winning dice tosses. Shame on the gamblers if they didn't know that cruise ship casinos are no match for Las Vegas for true gamblers. I later heard that there were some "comp" deals for the high rollers. That means a free cruise if they spend a certain number of hours in the never closing casino. Also, some others got "comp" deals. Probably they were travel agents or otherwise in the business. Then it was the second show. It featured Al Alonso, a magician who appeared on some dismal T.V. sitcom that was his greatest claim to fame. The magic was so much cards and cloths with few props or any large scale props. Some "shills" in the audience called out some cards that Alonso pulled from the deck. All he left out was to thank the audience participant by saying, "Thanks Mom". By this time the display of heavy drinking was in high gear. I'm surprised that more people don't fall off cruise ships. So we went to the front nightclub/lounge where a really good band of hard working musicians (called FUSION) played nonstop music so we could dance, have a drink, a have a "pretend" New Year's Eve Party. The concept of "Freestyle" dining translates this way. Better to pay extra to make a reservation at a specialty restaurant for, up to, $20 per person (plus extra tip) in the hopes of getting a dinner of the quality that a really good cruise line gives to everyone in the main dining room. Cute. Space that might have been a piano bar (they have none) or a cozy club with a duo singing Cole Porter or Gershwin is given over to an extra charge restaurant. Even the bottled water in your cabin is for sale. Well, it's bedtime. No chocolates on the pillow that you find stuck in your ear in the morning. No cutesy animals fashioned from the towel by the cabin steward. No way to get a wake up call on the room telephone. Sunday Morning Breakfast: Went to the attractive rear dining room for breakfast. Because there are no serving stations, the waiters come directly to the table with the orders. Slow and inefficient. No Eggs Benedict (they can't afford the Hollandaise sauce) just the usual pastries, bacon and eggs. More cold coffee and slow on the refills. No whole wheat toast. At least they didn't count the silverware when we left. Again, a nice view of New York harbor and the city as we pulled in, actually a little earlier than scheduled. When some blind pier worker managed to get the gang plank into position, we just walked off (no customs) and got into a cab at the pier. Home in ten minutes and relieved to learn that the Publisher's Clearing House Prize Patrol didn't arrive, with Ed McMahon, the cameras, and a big check, in our absence only to find that we were not at home. Maybe they'll come this week. The crowd NCL attracted for this cruise was a big turn off. Noisy, heavy drinkers. Lots of kids (you can't throw them over board) and an offering of food, music and entertainment that anyone with an I.Q. over Tiger Woods golf score average would be critical of. NCL has a lot to do if they want to sustain against the competition. Carnival will probably buy them out within two years. So, what to do about the January, 2007 cruise to the Southern Caribbean? Book the Celebrity Constellation out of Fort Lauderdale. Yes, it's about the same price as an NCL offering but the Constellation is getting exceptional ratings. Besides, I'm no longer mad at Celebrity for crushing my suitcase on a Bermuda cruise last year.  

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May 14, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Candy If you're looking for a fun-filled vacation, my suggestion is to stay FAR FAR away from Norwegian. Me and my husband went there on our honeymoon, and the second we got on the boat, we wanted to get off. It was really a shame. The food is absolutely disgusting in the buffet, and in the main dining rooms the food is just OK...it only has about 3 things on the menu.

The service was shitty. We were so BORED!! There wasn't anything to do except watch people play bingo and sit in the hot tub all day. Also, our room had BED BUGS. It's a disgusting boat, and anyone who says they had fun must be a bump on a log. It's sad because it was our first cruise, and trust me when I say, we'll never go on another cruise again.

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May 7, 2006

Bahamas

NCL - Norwegain Cruise Line Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Kilee First of all we have been on a couple of cruises before, but not to the Caribbean. We have only done the 8-day Mexican Riviera twice. We really enjoyed this cruise a lot. My husband and I, on our past cruises have gone by ourselves, but this year we went with my husbands’ sisters and their husbands. Going alone has it perks as does going with other people. I like

either way. NCL’s embarkment process was so nice and smooth compared to our last cruises. We were in line for maybe a total of 15 minutes. It all went really smooth. Our luggage got to our room before we even left the port. It was really windy when we pulled out of New York, so we went and sat in the Galaxy of the Stars and we could see everything in there. Disembarkation was also a breeze, you can do the express or opt out and wait for your color to be called, we chose to wait, after all, our flight didn’t leave until 5 pm that night. So we played cards in the card room on deck 12. Once we were called, we were in a taxi, in about 10 minutes or less. The first day, Monday, was a day at sea and it was windy and rainy. So we got ourselves acquainted with other guests and with the ships layout. We also booked all of our shore excursions. Tuesday, was Port Canaveral, we arrived and got on the shuttle bus to go to Universal Studios, just as a side note, the cruise line offers just transfers to the park for $45, that you can purchase separately, or you can purchase the transfers and park tickets together for $149 a person, we did the combination, which we kind of regretted because once we got the universal studios, a day pass is only $70, so if we would have just bought the transfers we would have been able to save about $35 a person. Universal was a blast and I would recommend it, even though we had been there before it was still a blast. Wednesday was Miami. We enjoyed this day; we all had pretty much seen everything there before, so we decided to get the beach and bayside hopper. So we went to South Beach for about 4 hours and then we went Shopping at the Bayside Shopping center. It was fun. Thursday, the Private Island, was by far my favorite. We snorkeled all day and saw some amazing fish, just like the fish we have seen in Hawaii. We saw some Jelly Fish and a lot fish varieties. We walked around the island for about 2 hours and saw some really cool things. I wish we would have had another day there and skipped Nassau altogether. Friday, was Nassau, it was okay, but being there for such a short amount of time, is almost pointless. We shopped the entire time, there are some really nice stores in the area, you just have to look for them, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Fossil, Banana Republic, perfume shops, and some really nice shoe stores. I would recommend renting a little scooter/motorcycle for the time that you are there, cause you can go anywhere you want fast. It only cost $55 for the 5 hours, and they fit two people. After we got on the ship, it was the Chocoholic Buffet in Windows, there was some really good things and some not so good things. The chocolate fudge cake was the best, it was almost like eating fudge, I can’t believe that I didn’t gain weight on the trip. The food was just like any other cruise ship food, they always have the basic things, then they would add things to the menu here and there. We only ate in Raffles for breakfast, cause the food smell, made my husband sick, so I would get his breakfast and take it out on the deck to him. It has the basic breakfast foods, but my husband, everyday ate granola and yogurt and I ate fruit and a bagel, so I can’t comment on the other breakfast food. The rest of the family liked the breakfast a lot. Lunch, we actually never ate lunch on the ship, so I can’t comment on that. Dinner, we ate half the time in the Windows restaurant, then the other half in the specialty restaurants. Cagney’s Steakhouse, it is just like a steakhouse around town. Teppanyaki was also good, but in order to get reservations, you need to make them Sunday right when you get on the ship. At night, if either of us were hungry, we would go to the Blue Lagoon and get a salad; they are better than any of the salads in Windows or any of the Specially restaurants. Their Cheddar, Bacon Potatoes skins and their hamburgers are really good there too. Entertainment: the cruise line shows are just like any other cruise line show, kind of cheesy, but good none the less. The comedian “Edge”, was a riot, I would have liked to seen more of him. The stand up comedians, “Second City,” were horrible, my husband and I walked out, it was stupid, we sat through it for about a half of an hour and then left. Our sister stayed the entire time and said that a lot of people left after we did. “Second City,” is a pure waste of time. The exercise room was okay, not a Gold’s Gym by any stretch of the imagination, it has about 8 treadmills and 4 elliptical trainers, one weight machine and some free weights. It was never crowed, I went every morning at 6 am and I was usually the only one in there. I really enjoyed this cruise, but next time I will sail out of Florida, so I can see more of the Caribbean.

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May 7, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Thomas J.Conlon My wife and I returned from our 7 day cruise (our first) yesterday. Let me "bullet" our opinions while they're still fresh: Cleanliness: the ship was spotless Stateroom: a balcony is a "must have." The room was roomy enough; bathroom facilities more than adequate. Stewards: James and Edwin were superb; room was always spotless with cute little touches

(like towels left on bed folded into the shape of an rabbit, or kitten, or lobster. Entertainment: top-notch; the NCL Production Company Broadway-type shows were superb. Other entertainment was good as well (the band Fusion Wave in particular). Always a good variety of music playing somewhere on the ship. Pool: Salt water - ugh! and the water was tepid, almost like bath water. Stayed out of it. Staff: did not meet one staff member, from the Captain to the stewards who did not greet us and smile. Staff was extremely friendly and engaging. Couldn't have asked for a more pleasant experience. Food: All right, not the greatest. The buffet was what you'd expect - a buffet for 2,000 people. Windows and Garden restaurants were fine, but portions weren't exactly huge. I understand having specialty restaurants, but charging a $20 cover after having spent a couple of grand for the cruise didn't exactly sit well with me. Overall, I'd give our dining experience a C+. Casino: Not bad in size and variety for a ship, but like any other casino in the country, you can't win at slots (we're not table-game players). Had fun nevertheless, and the staff was very friendly. Drinks: Pricey, but it was what I expected. 24 hour restauranct (Blue Lagoon): Not very good. Menu small and unappetizing (who feels like having chili or rice or potato skins or Shepard's pie at 3 o'clock in the morning? Plus the seating was limited and uncomfortable. Need a bigger "sit-down" restaurant with a full breakfast menu and some grill items. Sundry items: didn't realize until the last day that the liquor shop sold drug store items (toothpaste, band aids, aspirin, etc.). Should have been advertised somehow. Excursions: Didn't do any; went to Port Canaveral and Miami on our own. The Bayside Marketplace in Miami was great. Skipped the Grand Stirrup Island party (not a sun worshipper; loved having the pool area to ourselves but once again, wish it was not salt water and not heated (it wasn't really refreshing at all)). The Atlantis casino was filthy and the staff there were almost beligerent (glad we never stayed there). Nassau itself was not pleasant people-wise, odor-wise and appearance-wise. (Stayed at a resort in Freeport two years ago and had a much better impression of the Bahamas). Miscellaneous: Embarking and debarking was a breeze; everything was pretty organized and went smoothly. Overall, our experience was a good one. I would definitely cruise on the Norwegian Spirit again, but would first research other ships and lines and maybe try something different. (In fact, now that I think about going to work tomorrow morning, I'm going to start planning my next vacation.)

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Apr 30, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Jeremy H. If you're looking for a vacation where you can completely relax and not have to worry about doing a single thing, then you will love being on the Norwegian Spirit. This is a cruise ship where you can do absolutely nothing and never be bored, if that makes any sense. (It does to me..lol) Disregard all the bad reviews that are on this site or on any other. I read

all of them too and I was really worried that the cruise would suck, just like you. Well, I quickly realized that those people really don't know what they're talking about, because I enjoyed the ship so much that it broke my heart when the trip was over. The biggest myth in all of those bad reviews is that the buffet restaurant, Raffles, is terrible. Not True!! My girlfriend and I ate all of our meals in Raffles except for one. We never got bored of it. Those reviews made it sound like it was tiny and that they offered practically nothing. So Not True!! First of all, it's huge. You will never have a problem finding a table, even during the busy times. Second of all, they offer you practically everything under the sun. There is something for everyone. They have an enormous assortment of food, and it's all delicious. Some things were standard for every meal, but they always switched around the menu so it was never repetitive. There was always something new that I hadn't seen the day before. The carving stations are excellent, and the meat was always juicy and well-cooked. You name it, roast beef, strip steak, roast turkey, roast chicken, roast lamb, they had it. They had every kind of salad, a separate station just for Ceasar, and every kind of dressing. Everything was always fresh, especially the fruit. I ate so much pineapple that I thought I was going to turn into one. My favorite part of Raffles was the stir-fry station. You pick out all the ingredients and they make it to order right in front of you. There was this one cook from Jamaica who made my dishes so good, that I liked his stir-fry better than the mediocre pad thai that I ordered in Shogun, the Asian specialty restaurant. The desserts were plentiful and addictive. All kinds of cakes, cookies, mousses, jellos, and brownies. There was also a separate ice cream bar, which admittedly wasn't all that elaborate, but definitely sufficient. Believe me, I never felt that I missed out on anything by eating there all the time. You will get your money's worth. I highly recommend getting a room with a balcony. It made the room feel twice as big, and there's nothing like being able to breathe in the ocean air and the sea mist while wearing nothing but a towel. I took all my pictures from there, the views were stupendous. I saw some of the interior rooms and I don't know how anyone could breathe in them. They were very small. And don't listen to people who tell you that you'll never be in your room. Oh yes, you will, and that is when you will be glad that you have a balcony. If you like gambling, you will love their casino. It was such a refreshing change of pace from land casinos where the dealers and the pit bosses always tend to have attitudes. Everybody in the casino was very friendly and very welcoming to reluctant gamblers. They went out of their way to make sure that you understood the rules of the game. There was no pressure and no dirty looks. It was perfectly fine to stand around and just watch other people gamble. Watch out for those slot machines though, they don't pay out very often, if at all. I and lots of other people lost a lot of money in them. Stick with the tables. $5 minimums, how cool is that? Try finding a $5 minimum blackjack table at Mohegan Sun or in Atlantic City. If you're not a gambler, there are a ton of other activities, too many to list here. The stage shows were cheesy, yes that's true, but it's a nice theater, and the performers definitely exude a lot of energy despite their hideous costumes. There was always a band playing somewhere and at any time, which was nice, and they represented a nice array of musical genres. I wouldn't try to do any swimming in the pool as it does get very crowded. It's a weird pool too. It's not very big, but it is very deep, even from the steps going into it. Save the swimming for your shore excursions when you can hit the beaches. All I will say about Great Stirrup Cay is that you will never want to leave. It was easily the highlight of our trip. We felt like we were in that Corona commercial, "Miles away from Ordinary." The beauty of the water is hypnotic. I snorkeled with fish I've only seen behind glass in aquariums. Enough said. Get there on the early tenders though because it fills up fast. Oh, watch out for the women who want to braid your hair in Nassau. They tell you it's $2 a braid, but they fail to mention that they'll put in like 40 braids. My girlfriend and I got ripped off. Stay away from the Straw Market too, unless you like extremely hot, claustrophobic places. Instead, go next door to Senor Frog's. It's a nice place to wet your whistle, and it's right on the water with a great view of the ship at the dock. I'm sure your eyes are getting tired, so I'll wrap this up. This is not a fancy cruise, or a luxury cruise, but this is a really fun cruise and it's a very friendly cruise. From the room stewards who greet you by name to the reception desk who will answer any question at any hour of the day, these people really know the meaning of customer service. Always smiles from the staff. I didn't see one frown on anyone's face for the whole trip, staff or passengers. I highly recommend the Norwegian Spirit.

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By Jana_CR

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Apr 2, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Jana Greer This cruise was the first for both my husband and me. We didn’t have high expectations regarding the food so we were not disappointed. We ate at the buffet (Raffles) about once a day and the food was okay but pretty much the same dishes each day. The most unpleasant thing about Raffles is having to jockey for position in front of the drink machines and waiting

in the food lines. Finding an empty table is also difficult unless you eat during off-peak hours. Windows and The Garden restaurants (no extra charge) were a cut above eating at Raffles. For dinner, we often ate at the one of the specialty restaurants. The cover charge for these is about $20/each but the food is better still. Our favorite was Le Bistro. On the whole, the food on the ship is fine. The most disappointing thing about the cruise for us was some of our shore excursions. We did the “NASA Up-Close” tour in Port Canaveral, Florida. It was $110 for each of us. We didn’t really get “up close” to anything. We traveled around Port Canaveral in a bus and saw the space shuttle launch area from 3 miles away. We also drove by the space shuttle assembly building and saw the crawler-transporter. We also saw the old rocket launching pads from a viewing area nearby. That’s pretty much it. By the time this was over, there was barely enough time to grab lunch back at Kennedy Space Center and catch a last-minute IMAX movie. We were not able to see much of Kennedy Space Center at all. I recommend skipping NASA up-close and enjoying the Space Center instead. There doesn’t seem to be much added value by the Up-Close tour. In Miami we chose the Grand Tour of Miami, Vizcaya, and the Everglades. It was $99/each. This was a long bus ride broken up by a fan-boat ride in the Everglades, a tour of a mansion, and lunch at a Cuban restaurant (enjoy the traffic jam getting to Little Havana!). The fan-boat ride was pretty fun but it only lasted a half-hour. We saw a few alligators and some birds. We wish we would have skipped this excursion and explored Miami on our own. We went snorkeling in Great Stirrup Cay. This only cost $29/each and it was our favorite excursion. We recommend you go to the private island on the first tender so you can stake out a hammock or beach chair because by noon the place was jam-packed with people. The weather was beautiful and we were able to snorkel and read all day. We saw many colorful fish out by the reef. In Nassau, we did the Pearl Island Treasure Hunt. This cost $82/each. The Island felt like a piece of paradise and the weather was beautiful. Unfortunately, the treasure hunt part of the excursion was lame. Before we arrived at the island, the employees there placed several oysters (with rubber-bands around them) and conch shells around coral rock formations in a marked-off area of water. The conch shells were all in very obvious places. The first people in the water got everything. One guy got 5 large conch shells before some people were even in the water. Two rubber-band-marked oysters were also found within the first 10 minutes. My husband and I found none of these items, as we were some of the last people in the water, but we did enjoy the many fish in the area. The employees feed the fish daily to keep them in that area for the tourists. For the most part, we enjoyed our time in Nassau on Pearl Island. It is unfortunate that the ship only stays at that port for half a day. On the whole, we had a pleasant experience on the NCL-Spirit.

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Apr 2, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Debbie My husband and I went on Norwegian Spirit as first time cruisers with very high expectations. We were both let down. The food in the buffet restaurant was worse than school cafeteria food (the food in my cafeteria at work is 5 star compared to the food on the Spirit). Drinks were extremely expensive, shore excursions were outrageously expensive, the $10 per person

per day charge was ridiculous, the cover-charge at the restaurants is inexcusable (we pay so much for a cruise and you have the nerve to charge us to go to one of your restaurants???). They charged me my room bill ($1,100.00) plus a hold of $900.00 on my bank account for 4 days that had me in the negative and bounced checks. Disappointed? YES. Will we go NCL again - NOT IN THIS LIFETIME. Not unless they offered us a free suite for the week. Next time I go Carnival. I know one cruise line that is going to get a VERY nasty letter from me.

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Mar 19, 2006

Bahamas

NCL Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Chris Hoevel WE LOVED OUR CRUISE AND THOUGHT IT WAS A GREAT VALUE FOR THE MONEY. IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT GOING ON A CRUISE WITH YOUR FAMILY THIS IS THE CRUISE FOR YOU. WE HAD A TERRIFIC TIME ON OUR NY TO BAHAMAS 7 NIGHT CRUISE. WE HAVE TWO CHILDREN AGES 9 AND 10 THE ONLY COMPLAINT I WOULD HAVE ABOUT CRUISING WITH THEM WAS THAT THE KIDS WOULD HAVE HAD TO BE SEPARATED IF WE PUT THEM IN THE

KIDS CLUB. THE KIDS DID GET UNLIMITED POP FOR $16.00 EACH WHICH IF YOU HAVE KIDS YOU KNOW IT'S A SMALL FEE TO PAY TO KEEP THEM HAPPY. THE FOOD ON THIS TRIP WAS VERY GOOD ALL OF THE NO CHARGE FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS WERE VERY GOOD, IT JUST DEPENDS ON WHAT KIND OF DINING EXPERIENCE YOU WANT. RAFFEL'S IS GREAT FOR KIDS BECAUSE IT KEEPS THEM HAPPY AS THEY CAN GET THEIR OWN FOOD AND PICK AS THEY GO. MY HUSBAND AND I REALLY LIKED THE GARDEN ROOM. AFTER 5:30 EVERY DAY YOU MUST FOLLOW THE CASUAL DRESS CODE, SIMILAR TO CASUAL FRIDAYS AT MOST COMPANY'S, NO SHORTS, T-SHIRTS ECT. THEY DID SEEM TO LET KIDS SLIDE ON THIS A BIT (NOT THAT I LET MY KIDS DRESS DOWN) WE DID DINE AT CAGNEY'S WHICH IS A WONDERFUL PLACE FOR STEAKS (THE BEST STRIP I EVER HAD). WE HAD AN INSIDE CABIN WHICH WAS FINE FOR US SINCE WE HAVE A CAMPER AND ARE USED TO TIGHT PLACES. WE HAD OUR PORTER PUT THE TWO TWIN BEDS TOGETHER, THIS WAS FINE FOR US, MY HUSBAND IS NOT A SMALL PERSON AND THE BED WAS FINE FOR US THE PILLOWS WERE NICE AND SOFT AND THE DUVET WAS VERY SOFT AND JUST WARM ENOUGH. THE BEDS WERE SLIGHTLY FIRMER THAN WE WOULD HAVE HOPED BUT, FINE NONE THE LESS. THE SHOWER HAS PLENTY OF ROOM AND THE COMMODE HAS PLENTY OF ROOM EVEN FOR A LARGE PERSON. THE WATER PRESSURE IN THE SHOWER WAS GOOD AND THE WATER WAS NICE AND HOT. DON'T FORGET YOUR SHAMPOO, SOAP OR LOTION, THEY DO HAVE A LIQUID SOAP DISPENSER FOR SHAMPOO AND SOAP, BUT, IF YOU ARE INTO SPECIALTY SHAMPOO THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. THE ROOM DOES NOT HAVE A LOT OF ROOM BUT, THE CLOSET HAS MORE SPACE THAN YOU FIRST THINK. 4 DRAWERS FOR UNDIES AND SOCKS 1 FOR EACH IN OUR FAMILY. ALL OF OUR LUGGAGE FIT UNDER THE BED, SO YOU WILL NEED TO UNPACK EVERYTHING, BELIEVE IT OR NOT 4 SUITCASES OF CLOTHES FIT IN THE CLOSET AND DRAWERS. THE SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT WERE VERY NICE. THE ONLY 2 THINGS YOU NEED TO KEEP IN CHECK ARE DAILY CHARGES, SO GET A PRINT OUT OF ALL PURCHASES EVERY COUPLE OF DAYS. WE DID NOT HAVE GOOD LUCK WITH THE NCL'S AIRPORT TRANSFERS AND NO ONE EVER SHOWED UP TO PICK US UP AT THE AIRPORT BUT, THE PEOPLE AT THE AIRPORT ARRANGED A SHUTTLE TO GET US TO THE SHIP, THEY EVEN ACCEPTED OUR VOUCHERS, (THANK GOD)! WE WENT FROM NY TO PORT CANAVRAL THEN TO MIAMI (DON'T MISS THE DOLPHIN ENCOUNTER IT'S WORTH THE $175 PER PERSON MY DAUGHTER AND I ENJOYED IT) MY SON AND HUSBAND DID THE AIRBOAT RIDE AND LOVED IT (VERY INFORMATIVE) NEXT ON TO STIRRUP CAY WE LIKE THIS BEST (WISH WE COULD HAVE HAD 2 DAYS HERE. BE SURE TO BRING YOUR OWN SNORKEL AND MASK. AND DECENT SHOES TO GO EXPLORING THE ISLAND IN. BEAUTIFUL!!! LAST TO SEE WAS NASSAU WE ONLY HAD A HALF DAY BUT IT WAS FUN TO WALK AND SHOP A LITTLE, THEY WILL BARGAIN WITH YOU JUST DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR THEIR BEST PRICE. THE SHIP WAS SPOTLESS, VERY CLEAN! THE KIDS COULDN'T WAIT EACH DAY TO SEE THE TOWEL ANIMALS, (THESE GUYS DESERVE AN EXTRA TIP THEY WORK REALLY HARD). THE TIPPING IS AUTOMATIC AND YOU NEED NOT WORRY ABOUT IT, UNLESS YOU WANT TO GIVE MORE TO THE ROOM PORTERS AS WE DID, THEY AUTOMATICALLY CHARGE A TIP FOR EACH DRINK, AND THE 20 CHARGE PER PERSON IS FOR ALL THE OTHER TIPS EACH DAY. (10 FOR KIDS) WE HAD A GREAT TIME AND WOULD DO IT AGAIN. OH YEA- YOU CAN ONLY GET JUICE IN THE MORNING, ICE TEA MILK COFFEE TEA AND WATER ALL OTHER TIMES UNLESS YOU WANT TO PAY 1.75PER NO REFILLS ON POP. DRINKS ARE EXPENSIVE AND NOT INCLUDED, YOU CANNOT BRING ALCOHOL ON BOARD BUT, WE KNOW OF PEOPLE WHO PUT IT IN POP BOTTLES, AND IF YOU BUY IT THERE THEY HOLD IT UNTIL THE END OF THE WEEK. REMEMBER TO KEEP TABS ON YOUR CHARGES, OR YOU WILL NOT REMEMBER. I RECOMMEND THIS SHIP I ALSO RECOMMEND EXPRESS DEBARK ITS FAST AND EASY WE WERE AT THE AIRPORT IN LESS THAN AN HOUR. DONT WORRY ABOUT GETTING TO AND FROM THE SHIP THERE ARE PLENTY OF SHUTTLES AVAILABLE FOR 60-80 EACH WAY. WE WILL GO AGAIN NEXT TIME WE WILL LEAVE FROM A WARMER PORT.  

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Mar 19, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Spirit Bahamas Susan This was the first time our family had ever been on a cruise - six of us total. I had preordered the bon voyage packages for two rooms - ordered 3 kids packs - and a casino chip for my husband. When we arrived on the ship and went to our room - there was no bon voyage package, no casino chip and only two kid packs. When I went to the reception desk - they indicated

that they never "charged my credit card". They did offer to contact the travel agent - I gently reminded them that I ordered this directly from NCL. I was very disappointed - I would of assumed that they would have put a bon voyage package together at least for that evening - but there was nothing. I ordered a third "kids pack". On the second day - the reception desk contacted me and stated that they would credit my credit card - I found this very disturbing since the previous day they had indicated that it was not charged but yet here they are crediting my account because it was indeed charged - they just never filled the order. The rooms were very small. We had two inside cabins next to each other. The kids program was great. Julie, the cruise director was very good. We did go to Cagneys - a steakhouse. I do feel that paying a $20.00 cover charge per person is a little extreme but it was worth it in the end. It rained while we were in the Bahamas - we took the city tour and Pirate tour. Due to the rain, we were unable to stop at many places. Not enough time to spend in Nassau. As far as Great Clay Stirrups - it was extremely crowded - the snorkeling was fun. I paid $20.00 for a float only to have someone else swipe it. On the way back to New York - it was extremely rocky...several of us got sick due to the rocking. All in all, I don't think I would select this cruise line again due to the miscommunication of the reception desk - very poor.  

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Mar 19, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Tiffany Returned from cruise today from New York. My husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. I have to admit after reading a lot of negative reviews on the Norwegian Spirit, I wasn't sure what I was in store for...some things I agreed with and some thing I did not, such as, boarding the ship wasn't bad, I arrived at the port at 11:30am, we started boarding

the ship at 12:00 or 12:15. By 12:30 we were sitting in Windows enjoying lunch which was very tasty. We were on deck 10 in a balcony room, which was great. Traveled before on RC had inside stateroom, it was even smaller. Enjoyed the option of sitting on balcony basking in the sun and reading. The area where the toilet is, is very tight, (hope you don't have long legs!) I had read that the staff was not friendly, I disagree, I found them to be very friendly and pleasant, all spoke Tnglish maybe not as well as myself but enough to understand. I can see where someone would get the idea that they were not friendly I think because, the crew on the ship are from all different countries, some places where work is the primary goal, their work ethic is very strong, the crew works very hard, sometimes very absorbed in their work, but still pleasant, so I can understand if some people found them not to be friendly, (but they really are a great bunch of people with interesting stories to tell about where they are from.) The shows were interesting, we didn't expect Broadway anyway, it was entertainment none the less. There was a lot of variety for shows, magic, singing, dancing, a talent show, they pretty much had it covered. There are lots of activity filled days, not much of it interested me, pilates class, the art of making gift boxes, bingo, etc. Had fun in the casino, karaoke lounge, etc. We talked to some of the teenagers on the ship, we are thinking about bringing our 12, 13, and 15 year old on a cruise next year, they all pretty much said the same thing, that they were having fun but there wasn't much for them to do. I think there were moments of boredom for some children on board, younger ones were running up and down the hall, playing on the stairs or elevators. We stayed on the ship in Port Canaveral had already visited there, did go on an excursion in Miami, went to South Beach and did some shopping at Bayside Marketplace. Great Stir Up Cay, take the first tender over, your guaranteed to get a lounge chair and umbrella. It rained off and on when we docked in Nassau. I had been to Nassau before and didn't enjoy it too much, didn't enjoy too much this time either, the shops are all the same, the natives are nice but somewhat pushy, they follow you around the store trying to make you buy everything you look at. Only really had about 5 hours to roam Nassau. My husband and I ate in the main dining room 75% of the time (Windows). The presentation of food was great, some nice selections, prime rib, lobster, a nice variety of things. Just didn't feel the need to eat at the specialty rest. for a fee when there was so much free food. We did eat at the buffet Raffles on deck 12, after a while that got a little boring, same food almost everyday. very predictable, food not hot, things started tasting the same each time we ate there. Had to get there at a decent time or you found yourself walking around and around for a seat if it was too cool outside to sit. Never had to wait for seating longer than a few minutes at main dining room. Coffe on ship was never hot, go figure, so then I started making my own pot of coffee in the room (folgers). Debarkation went smoothly we opted for express debarkation, you just have to be able to carry your own luggage off the boat. They called us at 10am, we were off the boat in 10mins. max,it was great, I have the freestyle dailies (daily news) I will try to post them to this website, hope this was helpful.

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Mar 3, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Line NCL Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Heidi I like the format used by an earlier reviewer, so... We have cruised many times with Carnival and Costa, this was our first with NCL. Normally there are 4 of us sharing a room; we choose suites for the space. This time my husband was not able to join us, so with just my 12 and 15 year old I opted for a balcony stateroom on Deck 11. Plus, there were no suites available

for this cruise – the ship does not have very many to begin with. For this cruise we decided to skip the flying, and left from New York City, close to home. This was an 8 day trip: Port Canaveral and Miami in Florida, Great Stirrup Cay Island (NCL’s island) and Nassau in the Bahamas. We also had a large group of college students on the ship, so that may have changed some things… Embarkation Having always had priority boarding with suites, I can’t compare this easily. We waited in line about an hour, slowly snaking our way through the turns. At the desk we moved quickly. Documents were checked, photos taken, and our key cards given to us. One very nice touch was that I was able to register my credit card right then, instead of having to find another line on the ship later on for this purpose like so many other cruise lines. Then it was on to the ship. Our luggage arrive before we even set sail, also a nice touch. We had one cruise from San Juan where we didn’t get our luggage until the next morning, despite repeated phone calls looking for it. Our Room Julie, the cruise director, summed up the size of the room at a show. She commented that the pictures in the brochures were actual size. She’s not kidding. I didn’t know a room could be so small. You can have on hand on the toilet, one hand in the shower, and still look in the mirror over the sink. The closet has just a dozen or so hangers and some shelves. Consider bringing some hangers with you if you have lots of clothes; the ‘dresser’ drawers are postage size. You may fit some underwear in them, but not much more. The room was bright and gaudy. Color combinations sure to wake you up! There is a desk with a chair and mirror and a small loveseat that opens to a bed. If this is opened there is no way to get to the balcony. No room to walk. We asked our cabin steward to stop opening the bed in the evening; we just had to put it back. The television is miniature. Nothing to watch anyway. There is only 1 outlet in the room that you can use to charge cameras, cell phones, etc. – I always bring a surge suppressor strip with me for additional outlets and to protect my electronics. I highly recommend packing one! An interesting side note is that this ship was designed for the Asian population; the beds are shorter than expected, and you will notice this. They are also firmer, but have had foam pads added for comfort. We brought our own pillowcases; no worries about stained sheets for us. Towels are not fluffy and soft, they are rough and scratchy. There is no security chain on the inside door, nor is there a peep hole to see who is knocking. Our cabin steward was delightful and polite. I don’t think he ever vacuumed the room while we were on board. I kept my eye on one sunflower seed on the floor the whole trip. And the edges of the carpeting show that no one has ever really cleaned all the way to the walls. Cleaning is superficial. If you leave something on the floor, it will remain there until you pick it up. Turn down consists of new towels if needed, bedspread removed, and a towel animal most nights. I won’t even tell you what the cobra looked like sitting on the bed… The balcony is tiny, with wobbly plastic furniture. Better than nothing though. The glass was never quite clean. The Ship Again, this was designed for the Asian market as a gambling boat. While the extra touches are nice; wood paneling where one would normally see plastic, security cameras everywhere, and so on, there are a lot of forgotten things. A large fountain and rock pool area on Deck 7, under the grand staircases usually had no water flowing. Shopping is extremely limited on board. Colombian Emeralds, a watch/jewelry store, gift shop with just a few personalized (with ship) items and other sundries, and a small duty free shop. When I say small, I’m not kidding. One way in and out – if there are more than a few people in there you can’t get in. Plan for a wait here if you choose to buy anything. The public areas were kept clean; lots of staining on the carpet. The overall effect is pleasant but very tired looking. There are a lot of lounges and bars throughout the ship. Only one place, Blue Lagoon, has 24 hour food, and only a handful of seats with the traffic to the casino going through it. The theater has nice stadium seating; many of the seats are broken and when you sit in them the bottom leans forward. Find a sturdy seat. There are no little tables in this theater unless you choose the upper level, but it’s hard to see from there. Think Movie Theater without the cup holders. There are also many dead ends and “you can’t get there from here” areas. Food & Beverages The buffet was interesting. It does not flow well; it was not an original feature apparently. There are no trays to carry your plates. A person stands there every meal and hands out a plate and silverware rolled in a napkin. Then you choose a line and begin. The same choices every meal. Same cheeses and rolls. Same cold cuts. Entrees vary slightly; if you don’t like chicken, fish, burgers or hotdogs you may be in for a problem. The cooked to order stir fry is nice, but with 1 or sometimes 2 cooks, and about 5 minutes per order, if there are more than a few people waiting you’ll be standing there quite a while. Overall the food quality at the buffet is fair at best. If I’d had to pay to go to the buffet we would have skipped food altogether. Drink choices are limited. Iced Tea and milk. Juices in the morning. Forget the coffee – it’s either weak dishwater that upsets the palate or just plain old and gray. The desserts are boring after the first few meals. Same miniature cakes and pastries; they look pretty but lack flavor. The ice cream is usually melting. We learned to take quite a few each, in the hopes that one would actually taste good. We ate in the main dining room only twice. (Windows). Seating was quick, the staff extremely pleasant. The menu is, again, limited. An appetizer, and entrée, and a dessert. No ‘courses’. Small portions, but very pretty on the plate. We didn’t bother with the specialty restaurants. I couldn’t see paying extra on top of what we already paid just to eat. And we didn’t want to take the time for these restaurants, where reservations are suggested. Room service is only for the desperate. Very limited choices. The menu suggests tipping; a first on a cruise ship for me! I ordered a chicken Caesar salad the first night. Still waiting for the chicken. I would attempt coffee every time; sometimes I did get cream and sugar to go with it. Sandwiches are triple decker on stale bread (made in advance) with potato chip pieces. Very light on the fillings on the sandwiches. My 15 year old ordered 5 or 6 peanut butter sandwiches at a time. All the portions are small for room service; they never once got our order quite right. Breakfast room service arrives on time, and they call the room first to wake you up, but there is basically only cereal, bread and yogurt to choose from. Alcoholic drinks were high while we were on board; probably because of the college kids. I never ordered a single one. The kids have more choices; 12 and under can get a sticker on their key card for unlimited sodas at $16 each; this same choice is closer to $50 for adults. Teens get a book of coupons that they can use for either sodas or mixed drinks sans the alcohol. I brought soda on board in plastic bottles. NCL x-rays for glass bottles in your luggage. If you try to bring alcohol on, they will find it and keep it for the duration of the cruise. A friend advised me that if I wanted to bring alcohol I should transfer it to plastic soda bottles in advance… i.e. vodka in a water bottle, rum in a cola bottle, and so on. I didn’t try this, but I know some people who did… Entertainment The shows we saw were fairly good. We only missed a couple. These are not Broadway caliber by any stretch of the imagination. Think high school drama club. But they don’t drag on for very long. Over before you know it! Of course each must begin and end with a speech from Julie, which can be annoying as she’s usually plugging some other event, but she doesn’t talk too long. She tells some stale jokes too, and gets people laughing. The illusionist is amateurish; his show is very short. I found one show, Spirit of America, almost offensive. A large segment devoted to singers in choir robes imitating church. (Put on Friday night shortly after Sabbath began for Jews. It was supposed to be Saturdays show, but illness in the cast forced changes.) No mention of other religions. A slide show during a singing solo that stopped and gave us a blank screen for most of the song. Then some pictures of soldiers, war, tent cities, and a quick pan of the NYC skyline, focusing on and stopping at the World Trade Center as its highlight. Hello NCL! Many of the guests were from NYC and the area, and staring at the now destroyed towers for so long did not exactly bring smiles… I’m not into male strippers (sorry Taryn and Sarah), so I skipped that show. As stated, daytime entertainment is limited. Towel folding was, um, fun… Writing workshop on a cruise? These people can’t even spell properly on their own signs. Other than that the main theme to entertainment seemed to be about spending money (Bingo, Casino) or drinking. There are many ways to part with your money on NCL, and if you’re not careful your ship bill may be higher than the cost of your cruise. The casino does have penny slots as well as higher denominations, so you can have some fun here. A lot of table games for guests as well. The casino is large for a cruise ship, cheerful, and again, great staff. Lots of tournaments and such if you’re into it. Itinerary We opted not to do any of the shore excursions. Nothing new for us in Florida; could be fun for those who don’t get down that way often. Port Canaveral was too cold to bother with a beach, so we stayed on board and enjoyed the pool for a little while. In Miami we did disembark, but visited with relatives and went to South Beach with them. Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s private island, was scary. I didn’t think we would all fit on the beach. It was tight, but we managed. Wall to wall people. The barbecue was basically the same food we would have had on the ship; nothing exciting. There were enough chairs to go around, but considering these are just little beach chairs that was to be expected. If you want a hammock or lounger take the first tender out. They also have this ridiculous policy of having to sign beach towels in and out. I’m talking skimpy cheap beach towels, nothing you’d want for a souvenir anyway. We’ve always had towels for the next day delivered to our room the night before. The beach may have seemed even more crowded because it was really too cold to enjoy the water. Suggestion: if you enjoy snorkeling, bring your own gear. $29 to rent it seems insane. Life jackets are free for all snorkelers, and required. There are floats to rent; consider bringing those as well if you think about it. We remembered a pail and shovel to keep the 12 yr old busy. Nassau was a strange trip. We docked at 7am; the island doesn’t really open up before 9. And on board by 12:30 didn’t leave a lot of room to play. Don’t fool around with the time with NCL. They don’t think twice about sailing out on time. If you miss the ship, you miss the ship! And there is a Starbucks not too far away from where you dock for a quick cup of real coffee; the first in a few days. Getting on and off the ship is easy enough. Lines move quickly; everything is scanned on the way back in. Kids Crew For those of you with kids… The programs are good. The space is wonderful. There’s an entire waterpark for the kids, although it was too cold for them to enjoy it much. Jungle gym. Ball pit. Large, money hungry arcade. The kids are divided into age groups, and the facilities are available at certain times for very little ones with their parents. Register the first night on board. The 10-12 group had fun. Some ‘cool’ things to do, some were a little lame for the age group. Sponge Bob morning? Don’t miss the souvenir time; this is when the kids get the T-shirts they can decorate. Kids in this age group must be signed in and out. My 12 yr old was not thrilled; on other ships with my permission she could come and go as she pleased. Not an option for her on Spirit. 13-17 is too broad a range for the older group; what 17 yr old wants to hang out with a 13 yr old? But the events were more of a central meeting point for the kids. Many were too childish or inappropriate. A pajama party for teens? Overall though, the kids crew was good. The counselors here are not included in the mandatory tipping, and they will remind you of that often. Especially the last day. It appeared that the younger children had a lot of fun as well. I didn’t have one, but the little ones looked happy each day. Other If you can, choose the “Express Disembarkation” option your last night. You bring your own luggage off the ship; no big deal because hopefully you didn’t bring a lot to begin with. If you can’t handle all your luggage on your own this is not an option. It allows you to skip putting your luggage in the hall the last night. I also liked being able to wake up at a decent hour, go upstairs for breakfast, and then be able to return to the room to wait for disembarkation. No sitting in a hall for hours. At 10am our deck was called, and by 10:10 we were on the sidewalk. We checked out of the ship with a final card swipe, and that was it. Customs was a joke. The man took our customs declaration card, never glanced at it, and waved us on. Although we had all our id’s ready, he never even asked to see them. All we had purchased was a necklace and a T-shirt, so there wasn’t anything to worry about, but still… what happened to Homeland Security? It was the smoothest and quickest disembarkation I have ever encountered. Overall the cruise was ‘okay’. Just okay. I’d rank it as an economy cruise. If you’re looking for luxury or class, this is not the ship for you. The staff does speak English, and all the announcements were in English, so that was a relief – not having to listen to 6 other languages all the time. The staff was friendly and polite for the most part. If you don’t tip room service word gets around though. Your service will reflect that. I did not like the “service fee” policy. The amount is added to your bill, and you do not have the option of taking it off your charge and paying cash like on other lines. You will pay $10 per adult, $5 per child 12 and under. For us it was $25 a day; we did not get $25 a day worth of service. And they wanted more on top of that? Counselors, room service, etc.? Didn’t happen. At least we weren’t charged for the last day, as far as I know. Considering we only had a total of 4 meals, 2 for my daughter and 2 for me in the Dining Room, tipping for there wasn’t fair. So our tipping went to the cabin steward? That was not worth what we paid. The chocoholic event was a joke. The line stretched for, well, a couple thousand people. It started at 11pm – ‘viewing’ of the chocolate. We got there at 10:50 to get a jump on the line, which didn’t actually move until 11:20. Yes, the displays made from chocolate and ice were impressive. These are reused; the chocolate ones anyway. There are different trays of items that one can actually eat by the displays. After going through to view we had to leave the Dining Room and line up all over to then eat some of the chocolate? When we saw the length of the second line we went back to our cabin instead. We’d already tasted the chocolate they serve, and it was not worth another hour in line, especially at that time of night. Pictures on the ship are expensive, as always. Not very good quality either. It was annoying to have “College Student Specials” here – and everywhere else for that matter – that catered only to the kids. College students get buy one, get one free for many things. The rest of us didn’t. We purchased only 1 photo, of my daughter at “Cookies with the Captain”. Someone tell that man to wear looser pants when posing with little children on his knee please. I’m not fond of that photo, but my daughter wanted it. What else can I say? Will I ever cruise NCL again? Only if I get one heck of a good bargain on pricing! My kids dubbed it the worse cruise ever. I have to agree.  

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Feb 26, 2006

Bahamas

Norwegian Cruise Line NCL Spirit Cruise Review Bahamas Geoff ITINERARY: Sunday - sail, Monday - at sea, Tuesday - Port Canaveral, Wednesday - Miami, Thursday - Nassau, Friday - Great Stirrup Cay, Saturday - at sea, Sunday - back to NYC PRELIMINARIES: We drove our own car to the NY Ship Passenger Terminal where I dropped my family off (second level) and parked (third level). TIP: have them get a porter and go in rather than hang

out in the cold. Check in was a little confused because I had not received luggage tags, tickets, etc. I had booked through Travelocity and and called them several times but they assured me that it "was all done by e-mail." I did pre-register with NCL. After being given some blank tags and writing in my cabin number and giving the bags to the porter, we got through security checkpoints by having them refer to passenger manifest. TIP: make sure you have a pen with you in line to fill in forms, etc. Lines looked long but moved very efficiently and we actually didn't mind since we were having fun. Embarkation was very smooth and we went right to our room. First order of business was checking out various areas and then going to emergency drill. It was frigid and although we were prepared, others weren't very happy at all. PORTS OF CALL: Port Canaveral: have always wanted to see Kennedy Space Center and this was perfect opportunity. AVIS bus picked us up at ship (there are other rental car agencies but they were further from port and didn't stay open as late) and I picked up our pre-reserved car. We were in KSC in 20 minutes. Family all had a great time and could have stayed second day (they will validate your ticket for next day but we of course had to leave). Highlights were CLOSE-UP tour (worth the extra money), Apollo Center and IMAX. Miami: old home week for my wife and I since we lived in Florida for 2 years. TIP: if you are not doing an excursion, sign up for $18 BusHopper to South Beach/Bayside/Port. We went to South Beach, walked around surf, sightsaw, went to Bayside (great band by water with tropical drink bar right there and shops). Itinerary had changed (we weren't aware of it although others had been). Nassau went from Friday to Thursday and GSC from Thursday to Friday. This turned out to be disappointing (see below). Nassau: Kind of a dud stop in our opinion. We thought about going to beach, etc. and that would not have been a bad option (despite a brief shower in the AM, afternoon was not bad). We ended up browsing through shops in the kind of run-down area near port, buying some Bahama Mama fixin's and then considered going to see Atlantis but changed our minds and went back to ship to hang out by pool, drink beer and win the trivia contest. This turned out to be a real good decision since we avoided taxi/ferry fare, weren't that interested in seeing Atlantis (aquarium, big resort, look but can't use pool/beach) and the pool on board was not crowded and the weather was just right. Friends got referred to Cabbage Beach but found no food, no bathrooms and left after 15 minutes since they have younger kids and that wasn't going to work for them. GSC: Had a great time. Lots of people but just enough room, lines weren't too long, weather was great, etc. Older son parasailed, younger son swam/floated, wife hung out/hammocked, friends snorkeled. Tenders were adequate with some waiting but not objectionable. Only regret is that it didn't last longer. I have seen a couple of posts saying that this switch had happened to them. Most credible but unsubstantiated reason I heard is that 5 ships were scheduled for Nassau and they can only handle 4 so some switching was done. TIP: Do a little exploring away from main area and you will find some solitude if you are looking for that. TIP: Souvenir market only takes cash. NCL stuff is OK with card. SHIP EXPERIENCE: VERY NICE! Comments I have read about nice decor, etc. are right on. Very classy ship and we had EXCELLENT service - very friendly, attentive, etc. Ellen Guhring's review (see below) was from the cabin right next to ours and we had the same stewards (Myrna, Harrod) with the same results - very clean rooms with nice towel sculptures (NCL staff shows you how to do that during the week) and very friendly. We had four in one room (one upper bunk, two lower beds, one rollout bed between lower beds) and it was fine. As is typical, we spent little time in room, went right to sleep when we were there and found the beds adequate. The duvet covers were actually very nice and much improved over many places I have slept while on business trips. Bathroom was spacious in my view and shower was GREAT, even by my wife's high standards. There was no odor problem from the bathroom. TIP: Bring your own soap, shampoo, etc. since what they give you is fluid in dispensers. Towels were nice and water was very hot with good pressure. We were on Deck 11 (inside stateroom since we booked kind of late). No noise problems at all from Raffles, etc. which other reviewers had mentioned. Engine noise, rocking, etc. not an issue at that level. Others have mentioned smaller furniture due to Asian history but I would not have noticed it if someone hadn't told me and I didn't find it to be a problem at all (I am 6 feet tall, 190 pounds) but rather consistent with a cruise ship cabin expectation. Storage was not abundant but we piled four suitcases on the sitting chair/ottoman, used the closet and drawers and found it to be fine. Room safe and lots of hangers were in closet, ice bucket was always full, there was a coffee maker/coffee/cups/glasses at all times. TV was small and not a great picture (dark) and there were some good movies on but again, this was a minor item for us. Location of our cabin was perfect since we could go right down the stairs to the arcade where our younger son spent most of his time and right up the stairs to the Raffles buffet for food/top deck access. NOTE ON ELECTRICAL SITUATION - one 110V outlet in room (500W) and two 220V outlets (one Type F "Schuko" plug and receptable with side grounding contacts, one Type G rectangular blade plug). The Type F plug will work with Type C and Type E plugs as well. For more information, go to this website: http://kropla.com/electric.htm#plugs. I charged digital cameras batteries, GameBoy, etc. with my 220V gear/plug converters/adapters and had no problems. Balcony rooms looked GREAT! I tried to get one and there weren't any available but if you can get one on this ship, go for it. You can also sign up for wireless computer access as well as onboard cellular service using your own cell phone. You will pay pretty stiff rates compared to land but for those who need it, it is available. I chose to go no e-mail/no phone for a week and loved it. FOOD: We did not try any of the speciality restaurants (although we talked about it and others told me they were very pleased with them). RAFFLES was good, especially at breakfast. Lunches/dinners were OK - food was hot, variety adequate although by end week you will be somewhat tired of it, table cleanup was OK (better at some times, slower at others) but overall you could pretty much find something you liked, have a good meal and move on to your next activity. Lines did get a little crowded/confused at times but again, nothing you couldn't deal with. WINDOWS was our main dining establishment and we found it very nice. Engine noise was higher closer to the big windows and the ceiling was lower in the part nearer to the entrance as others have noted but neither were objectionable. In fact, we liked both experiences (near entrance and near window) and found the GARDEN ROOM which we tried once to not be as enjoyable (same menus). BLUE LAGOON was a BIG favorite with my wife and younger son especially, although we all ate there at various times, especially late night. TIP: Wonton soup, hot dogs and fries were all great. CHOCOHOLIC BUFFET was outstanding with ice sculptures, "sushi" made of chocolate and candies, fruit, etc. Try to come early and take some pictures before you eat it because it was something very special. ACTIVITIES: Tivoli pool was fun but could get crowded. It is salt water, heated (84 deg F) and chairs were never a huge problem. All of the positive comments about Buccaneer's Wet and Wild are true although definitely for younger crowd/parents with children. Arcade (Deck 10) was great and very convenient. Kid's activities were uneven (teen stuff was OK for 14 yr. old, 10-12 program was weak for my 11 yr. old). I felt that the younger kids activities were stronger and the teen program (contests, video games, hanging out, etc.) was OK, not great. 10-12 yr. old program seemed a little childish for that age group. I would like to see ship "insider" tours, maybe some fun language lessons, some free arcade time, etc. to make these programs stronger. I suspect that the weeks with more children (the following week had 700 kids coming onboard) might be better since there weren't that many children in either program during our week. Entertainment was actually a big disappointment. On our previous NCL cruise, shows were lots of fun even though talent level (singing, dancing) was only OK. Talent here was much better but productions were boring. We heard this comment a lot. I kind of felt bad since the performers were pouring their heart and souls into the show and they all seemed to be very talented but the overall effect fell flat. The Second City Improv group I didn't find all that funny, both in their main show and in their "adult" appearance. I prefer standup so maybe it is me but it just didn't rate highly with me. We didn't play but the casino looks new, has lots of games, slots, etc. There is a library, internet cafe, game rooms that were all very nice. We went to German class, napkin and towel folding, etc. and found them to be fun. Bingo was standard. Game shows were not as good as we remembered them, particularly "Newlywed game," but OK. Bars/nightclubs were good. Galaxy of the Stars was nicest, I like Maharini's (inside casino) as well as Henry's Pub. Champagne Charlie's and Shanghai Bar (sports on TV) are in high traffic areas. Sitting by the pool and ordering Foster's was perfect. We didn't really like the cruise director (Julie Valeriote) - she came across as forced and not really natural. While I am sure this is a tough job, our last cruise director was cynical and kind of a wiseguy but it actually played better than her attempts at being cheery. DEBARKATION: Very smooth except for some glitches with getting the gangway lined up as we docked and people who refused to listen to directions and clogged the exit areas, which prevented the customs officials from coming on board as quickly as they otherwise would. TIP: We bought liquor over the exemption limit and thought it would be 10-15% duty but it turned out to be $3 per bottle flat. Remember that as you compare prices. We got off on Pier 92 which was much less fancy than the not-very-fancy Pier 88 we had embarked from. It was kind of chaotic but we got our bags, paid our duty, got a porter to take the baggage to the third level where our car was parked and got out very easily. SUMMARY: great vacation, very enjoyable cruise, special ship. We are "Freestyle Cruising" fans and love to be able to eat when/where/with who we choose. Resort casual is more our style as well. People we met were great (ranged from high powered lawyers to software company owners to mechanics and computer technicians, lots of NJ/NY and quite a few other VTers!). Itinerary fit us very well, especially Canaveral, less so Nassau. Already looking at other NCL cruises for next time!  

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Feb 9, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Spirit Cruse Review Southern Caribbean Cruise Ellen I just returned from my first cruise. The Norwegian Spirit left NYC on Feb. 9th and returned on Feb.19th. NCL offered a great rate for three days in NYC before the cruise left at the Holiday Inn Midtown. That was a fun way to unwind a bit before the cruise even started. The Norwegian Spirit is a twelve story floating luxury hotel. It was immaculate.

The food was excellent. The main dining areas, which were almost always open, were filled with delicious food of all kinds. The speciality restaurants, available for an extra $20.00 per person were great and offered an alternative for a dressy night out. The casino was huge and lots of fun. The salt water swimming pool, the spa, all were wonderful. The crew treated us like royalty. The entertainment, games, contests were really fun. The ports of call were St. Thomas: we excursion to St. John for snorkeling at beautiful Trunk Bay, the next was Antigua, we had lunch and drinks on a beautiful, remote, beach in Paradise, but Antigua is poor, then Barbados, we took a 4x4 excursion through sugar cane fields where men cut the cane with machetes and women carried 40 lb bags of sweet potatoes up the hills. All the people waved and smiled at us. We had a nice visit to Bathsheba, an unbelievable surf break and met some members of the Barbados Surf Team. Then, St. Maarten, we went to the clothing optional Orient Beach and had so much fun. Lots of Beach Tiki Hut Bars and water sports going on, all on a perfect Caribbean Beach. Finally, Tortola, where we lunched at relaxed at beautiful Cane Garden Bay Beach. Rum punch in Paradise to the sounds of the Steel Drum band. I can't say enough about how good this vacation was. The price? Only $1,300. per person for 10 days. What a good value! The excursions were an extra $50.00 per person but they were well worth it. As on most cruises, alcoholic beverages on board cost you extra so budget for them at $4.00 -$6.50 a pop. Finally, this was a great time to cruise, because it was the week before school vacation. It was really fun because there were hardly any kids on board. I like kids but not when I'm trying to relax. I Highly recommend this Cruise Line!!

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Feb 9, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Line NCL Spirit Cruise Review 10-day Southern Caribbean Taryn and Sarah Two reviews for the price of one… A little background on the two of us, we are a mother-daughter pair who decided to take this cruise both because it left out of NYC and because of the unique islands it stopped at. Mom (Sarah) has been on dozens of cruises while this was the forth for me (Taryn). Mom is 51, I turned 26 on the cruise. Mom says:

I’ve been on Cunard, Carnival, Holland America and Celebrity. All of those cruises were enjoyable and the lines seem to have their own personalities. Now that I've cruised Norwegian I love the Spirit just as much. Embarkation: Sarah says: This was by far the easiest embarkation I've gone through (even faster than when I mistakenly went through the Captain's Club line on my first Celebrity cruise). I was handed a form to fill out for Tortola, and I was at the check-in desk before I could even complete it! There seemed to be an abundance of Norwegian staff which made the lines go very quickly. (Carnival should take note. I have waited in their lines for over an hour). Taryn says: The Spirit is absolutely beautiful. From the dark woods to the lush red carpeting, it is just beautiful. The Asian décor is unique, and sets it apart from other run of the mill ships. Also, since it’s a bit older, the exterior is not as boxy-looking like the newer all-balcony Carnival and RCCL ships. Favorite spots on the ship were Galaxy of the Stars (so peaceful during the day that many people napped while sitting along the windows looking out at the ocean) and Maharini’s nightclub (apparently NCL spent 1 million dollars to refurbish this room alone, and it shows.) Sarah says: The Spirit is very beautiful. The Asian influence is striking, and I hope Norwegian is not going to follow through with plans to redecorate it to look like all the other ships. This ship has a history and should remain Asian! The main pool area was very nice with the largest ship pool I've seen in the middle. I don't have young children, but the children's pool area in the back looked like a lot of fun. Our Room: Sarah says: Most of the previous reviewers were balcony or suite passengers. If you are traveling steerage, don't dismay! We "bunked with the crew" on Deck 4 (some people were surprised there were passengers that far down!) But I loved the location. It was very quiet and very smooth. We were right next to the gangway so disembarking on port days was a breeze (and we could easily sneak contraband alcohol into our room). The room itself was usual for a cruise ship. Thanks Cruise Critic posters for suggesting the shoe caddy, it helped keep things organized. Taryn says: Our room stewardess was wonderful. She was very soft-spoken, but extremely sweet. She knew our names by the first night, and she even helped my mother decorate the outside of our room for my birthday. Entertainment: Taryn says: The difference between the amount of activities offered during the night and during the daytime was, well, night and day. During the day, especially days at sea, there was very little planned to do. While this would have been fine if it was warm enough outside to sit by the pool, that wasn’t the case on the trip down or back for the most part. Honestly, it got to be pretty boring some days. What was offered usually had an additional fee, the only fitness classes were either at 8am and only half an hour long, or $15 per session. The night time schedule, however, was wonderful. Often times we had so many things we wanted to do that we had to schedule dinner somewhere in between. The guest entertainment was great, especially Dr. Trance (the adults only show was absolutely hilarious). Nightly trivia in Henry’s pub was fun on the nights that Chris hosted, and we walked away with tons of NCL merchandise. But the highlight? The ship n’ dales show. Billed as “our complete mockery of the Chip n’ Dales,” it was anything but. Most of our cruise staff participated, and stripped won to their skivvies. One even gave my mother a lap dance! Sarah says: There were not enough activities planned during the day (napkin folding???). There were lots of fun things to do in the evening and sometimes it was difficult to schedule dinner because of this! Trivia was at Henry's Pub every nightday at 6:00 (hello to team members John, Mimi, Susan, and sometimes Arlene). One night was movie trivia. There were nightly activities in the Galaxy of the Stars including the Shipendales (for future women cruisers: don't miss this, and bring a few dollars!) The Murder Mystery dinner was very fun (and free). (Greenie, I understand you were there - which team were you on? We were Group 2). One night was the pub crawl with fun and games for all over 21, even middle ages women like me. The cruise staff (Julie, my favorite Chris Service, Fergie, John, and Adrian) were very involved in the evening activities and offered a lot of fun. Food: Sarah says: This varied. Raffles had better quality for breakfast and lunch than I expected, from previous reviews. (And we DID have trays, which people on the recent cruise said they did not). We ate in Windows for breakfast a few times which was much more peaceful than Raffles. The outside B-B-Q was good (ribs and things). Raffles has a daily tea and this was very tasty, with small sandwiches and cakes and scones. (We missed the chocolate buffet because our dance class lasted too long.) Dinner in Windows and Garden varied from "There's nothing here to eat" (thus choosing salmon which is always offered) to some meals being pretty good. My suggestion for Norwegian is to seat people with others if it is requested. One of the joys of cruising is getting to know others (plus my daughter and I were getting tired to talking to each other). Our request didn't work as well as we hoped: the first night we sat with an elderly man who was hard of hearing, another time our tablemates were foreigners with a limited command of the English language, a few times we sat alone. By the way, I didn't think the wait for a table was unreasonable. The first few days everyone wanted to go to Windows or Garden and we waited about 20 minutes tops. By the third night we could get in immediately anywhere. Taryn says: There was a joke at my college that we were the only campus where food was so bad that students actually lost the freshman 15. I think NCL may have hired the SUNY Fredonia kitchen staff. Tapenyaki and Cagney’s were great meals, but they better be when you’re paying a $15 or $20 cover per person ($25 at Cagney’s the night we went). So the food was pretty awful, but honestly, that’s not why you’re on a cruise anyways. Just think of it as a jump-start to your diet. Also, I really did not care for the entire Freestyle cruising concept. It was a great idea for people traveling with friends, but for my mother and I, we usually ended up sitting just the two of us. I really did miss getting to know tablemates and serving staff that traditional dining offers. Taryn says: Just terrific. St. Martin and St. Thomas you’ll do a dozen times if you cruise often, but Antigua, Tortola and Barbados were a real treat. Just beautiful. Also, we always docked and never tendered, so getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Sarah says: St. Thomas - We went on a walking tour, and I got us lost. . .At least we got to see alleyways that most people don't! Blackbeard's Castle was closed since it was Sunday afternoon. We saw beautiful flowers and huge iguanas during the walk. Antigua - We booked Pineapple Beach (due to recommendations on Cruise Critic) and shared a taxi with Susan and Barb, whom we met on Cruise Critic. It was an ideal beach day on an ideal beach. For $50, we got breakfast buffet, lunch, and open bar. Unfortunately our taxi driver Tucker never returned for us. We shopped briefly upon our return to the port. I watched a woman making jewelry and the prices were excellent ($4 for earrings). Again we went on a walking tour and again I got us lost. . .so Taryn took my map away. Barbados - We paid $75 for two for a tour of the island (Sunbury Plantation and Bathsheba). A vendor said "That's why we don't like cheap Englishmen" when I wouldn't buy his jewelry - we are not even English. I don't think our driver liked us either, he seemed pretty bored by our trip. Malibu Beach was very nice, and shopping at the port terminal was pretty good. St. Maarten: Susan and Barb went with us to the Divi Resort. We paid $4/person for the taxi (the taxi system in St. Maarten is extremely organized). Chairs at the Divi were $5. The beach was nice but crowded because some ship tours came there (at a much higher price than we paid). Then we went to Charlotte Amalie for lunch along the bay (excellent meal by the way at a cost of $8 for ribs and fries). This is my favorite shopping place for linens and liquor (although I seldom drink, I could spend hours in the liquor store looking at the cheap prices!) Tortola: Unfortunately we were only there from 7:00 AM - 1:00 PM. It is such a beautiful island and much less commercial than the other ports. Our island/beach tour cost $20/person and took us up the mountains and down the mountains, with spectacular scenery. We spent an hour at Cane Garden Beach. Again beach chai!rs were $5/person. This beach was even more crowded than the Divi because it seemed that all the tours ended up here. It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour however. Other: Taryn says: Again, the ship n’ dales show for me. Of course after seeing most of our cruise staff in their underwear, it was hard to look them in the eye for the rest of the cruise. My only other big annoyance was the dress code. It wasn’t just the people who decided not to dress up for dinner, but the number of people in jeans on formal nights was staggering. Yeah, I know, it’s called “optional” formal, but it was a bit ridiculous. Overall: Sarah says: I loved the Spirit and I really enjoyed meeting our Cruise Critic ship-mates. Thanks to Bauerdog for writing all these months and getting us for ready for vacation. Although the food on the Spirit wasn't terrific, it wasn't much better on Carnival, Celebrity, or even Cunard (on Holland America, however. . .) There were fun activities during the evening (daytime activities could be improved). Now I have to plan my next cruise! Taryn says: We had incredibly smooth seas, met some great friends (through CC boards, of course), and stopped at some beautiful destinations. The trip was a lot of fun. Was it upscale? Not at all. Was it memorable? Definitely. Would I sail with NCL again? Maybe if I got a spectacular deal. For me, I’m trying Princess next in November for my honeymoon.

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Dec 18, 2005

Southern Caribbean

NCL Cruise Line Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review 7 Day Southern Caribbean Sandy Let me start by getting the postitive things out of the way. The ship's Asian decor was beautiful-a nice change from the normal cruise ship decor. Also, the ports were absolutely gorgeous. Tortola being our favorite. But, of course, that was the port where we only stayed until 1:00. We also had very nice weather, except for the one rocky day at sea on the

return to New York. Now for the negatives...I read reviews on this ship and cruise line after we had already booked. Most were negative. I was hoping it was just alot of people who were just a little too picky, so I disregarded them and looked forward to our cruise. They weren't being too picky. The food and the service in the main dining rooms was absolutely horrible. We only had dinner in the main dining rooms twice due to our order being messed up both times and the amount of time in between courses. The wine I ordered with dinner one night actually came with dessert. Oh, and if you like standing around with one of those vibrating beepers that you get at your local TGI Friday's when there's a wait, you'll enjoy this format. I also feel that having restaurants that charge a cover fee on a ship is ridiculous. You already spent thousands of dollars on this trip. The menus in Windows and the Garden Room were identical every night. So it's not like it's an actual different choice, like they make it sound. I will also agree with other reviewers when I say that the food in the Raffles buffet was mediocra at best. I cannot tell you how many times there was just nothing appealing so we ended up going to get plates of fries at the Blue Lagoon. (I'm extremely sick of fries at this point). It was almost like they saved the good food on the ship for people who were willing to pay a cover charge. The menus are posted outside of each rest. Even my 13 year old son who will eat anything felt the same way. He actually lost weight on this cruise which he was not happy about. Enough on the food, I think you get the picture. Entertainment: except for one very funny comedian, we didn't stay for any other shows. I heard other people commenting as they left on how bad it was. Also, the day to day list of activities was lacking to be nice. We sat around bored or slept on the sea days , which is weird for me. I'm usually the one getting everybody up and ready to go. Shore excursions: St. Thomas- we went to Magen's Bay. Again, my son said the beach was disgustingly dirty. It was also very crowded. On a previous cruise we took the trip to St. John. That was beautiful and I would highly recommend that instead if you're looking for a beach day. Antigua-we had another beach day. A beautiful beach, a BBQ lunch was included in this excursion. It was a nice day. Dominica-we took the whale and dolphin excursion. We saw a lot of dolphins-that was great! Toward the end we finally saw one whale, but it was a 4 hr. trip and the time in between the dolphins and the whale got old. Barbados-the green monkey encounter and 4x4 trip...the only monkeys we saw was when we stopped at a house where a guy raises them. But, the plus side of this trip was that we got to see alot of the island, got some fantastic picures and the 4x4 part was funny. We really got bounced around. Grenada-my son felt like staying onboard, so my husband and I went out and hired a taxi to take us to the more popular sights. That was also fun. Then we went to another gorgeous beach and had a ball. Tortola-our favorite. We took an excursion which included lunch, which was fantastic, to Cane Garden Bay. Another beautiful beach. This trip also took the long way to the beach to show us the beautiful views on every turn at this island. We definitely didn't have enough time here. In my opinion, we could have skipped St. Thomas and spent a whole day here. Just breathtaking! So there you have it! My advice is that if you don't care about the food and you like having nothing to do on your days at sea, then you should take this trip and enjoy these beautiful islands. We did still enjoy that part of it. Oh, one more thing, the stateroom...we had a balcony room (#9182). This room was right under the childcare center. DO NOT BOOK THIS ROOM! The noise during the day and early evening was overbearing! It sounded like a herd of elephants jumping around. The room itself was very small with just bearly enough closet space for three peoples' clothes. (I overpack though) The bathroom was nice and tiled in pretty bright fish tiles. I hope this helped. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.  

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Dec 18, 2005

Southern Caribbean

NCL Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Helen Broumley WOW! This cruise was fantastic - very relaxed - a mixture of ages, the ships staff very friendly and attentive, the drinks fairly expensive but not too bad. The entertainment excellent - always something for everyone. Food ok in main restaurants although not always as hot as I would like it - specialty restaurants fantastic! Over al 9/10 - I will definitely sail

with NCL again!

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By Neil_CR

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Sep 3, 2005

Alaska

NCL Spirit Alaska Neil If you are a fan of traditional cruises with lots of personal attention, formal dinners and wonderful cuisine this boat is NOT for you. Overall it is still great value for money and the boat is clean and safe. We found the stateroom size to be very good and had no problem with cabin service BUT the food and restaurant service let the cruise line down. The basic food in the buffets and the main dining rooms

was very ordinary . The main restaurants had an attractive menu but almost always spoiled the dish by poor presentation and or badly cooked food (raw veggies, inedible pancakes, overcooked meat...) You could watch the entrees in the main restaurant slowly filter through the buffet as stew, ragout, etc. It had much of the feeling of the all you can eat buffets common in Florida and Las Vegas. The specialty restaurants were better but still managed to disappoint with poor service and badly cooked side dishes. Restaurant service was mediocre throughout with the staff preferring to talk to each other rather than attend to the diners needs . Formal nights were a joke. You feel very overdressed wearing a tuxedo next to a guy in a fleece windbreaker and sweat pants.

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May 21, 2005

Alaska-Inside Passage

Kathy Overall Comments: My 21 year old daughter and I traveled together on the Norwegian Spirit. Although we made the most of our cruise and did enjoy it, we will not cruise with NCL again. The dining staff were great, the room stewards were wonderful, but the overall cruise experience was lacking and very low-budget. I gave this cruise the unofficial theme of “lines.” There were always lines for everything, and this was especially

unforgivable for those passengers with special needs or for the elderly. The food was highly disappointing: it was awful at the buffet, and mediocre in the main dining rooms. The onboard production company shows were unimaginative, and the performers lacked talent. The only exceptions to this were comedienne Adam Ace and tenor Chris Riggins - they were wonderful performers but they were guest entertainers and probably not on every cruise. Its hard to figure out what the problem is here, because the ship is beautiful and almost everyone we met who worked onboard was efficient, professional and friendly. I would rate this cruise only 5 out of 10. Seattle Airport: Shuttles to the cruise pier were $15.00 per person one way, so we took a cab for $30.00 and didn’t have to wait around for a group. There was a short wait for a taxi, a 15 minute ride through Seattle, then we were dropped off right in front of the terminal. Note about taxis: from the baggage claim area you have to go up the escalator, then across to the parking garage to find the taxi area. Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise dock at about 2:30 pm and went right into the terminal, which had a small café inside and did not at all look like a warehouse as some cruise terminals do. This is where the first of many lines began. First was a security checkpoint and a line to drop your luggage, then a line to go upstairs, then a line to check in and get your ship ID card, then a line to another security check, then, finally, a line to walk up the gangway to have your photo taken and board the ship. Whew! It took about 45 minutes. If you are a latitudes member, as we are, don’t count on it to shorten your standing in lines. Once aboard, we found our stateroom (more about that later) then went to the “Welcome Aboard Party and BBQ” which took place on an outside deck near the main pool. It was lightly raining by now, windy and a bit cold. In order to get food you had to wait in another long line in the wind and rain! Nice efforts by the cooks who were also standing out in the rain, but the burgers and chicken were overcooked and bland. The public areas of the ship were very nice, with an Asian theme dominating. The main atrium area had a double staircase, glass elevators, waterfall, grand piano, plentiful seating, and was beautiful. We never once heard anyone play that grand piano. The combined library/internet café was very cozy and had nice windows where you could sit and enjoy the views. Galaxy of the Stars lounge provided fantastic indoor observation areas along the entire front of the ship. Everything was kept very clean throughout the cruise. Stateroom: Our deck 10 stateroom was on the small side, with a double sliding glass door to the balcony. The room furnishings were inexpensive quality and sat very low to the ground. The bedspreads were just horrible, in bright green and yellow stripes, but we took them off and stashed them in the closet! The beds were triple sheeted, and had beautiful white-on-white duvet covers, so we just let the duvets serve as bedspreads. Throughout the cruise our room stewards kept putting those horrible bedspreads back on, and we kept taking them right back off! The closet was double wide, had plenty of space for hanging clothes, plus five shelves. There were also four drawers under the TV for storage. Even with coats, heavy clothing, and over packing we two ladies had more than ample closet space. Room temperature was controlled via a thermostat, and beds were comfortable. The bathroom was small, but had a fantastic shower with plenty of hot water and great water pressure. A hairdryer was provided and it worked just fine. Our room stewards Rogelio and Joseph were great, our room always clean, we always had fresh fluffy white towels, and the ever cute towel animals. The balcony was very narrow, and I barely had room for my knees when I sat in the chair out there, but the views were fantastic and it was worth the extra cost. The only real problem with the balcony was that it had a clear railing guard that got very dirty very quickly, and the dirt blocked the view. Note about laundry: No public laundry rooms on this ship, but at midweek the ship had a special - for $25.00 you could get a whole bag of laundry done. That seems a bit expensive, but so were the dry cleaning and ironing services. You’re better off if you dry-clean and iron before you leave home. Also, we brought a low wattage iron for touch ups and it worked just fine. Staff and Crew: The dining staff and crew worked very hard. We couldn’t have been more pleased with how efficient and professional these staff members were! As for the Cruise Director’s staff, well, we never even knew who they were. And we participated in just about everything onboard. And the staff at the information desk were just plain rude. Dining: Windows, the main dining room, served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Located at the very back of the ship, this is a beautiful dining room, very large, with a grand piano, and with lovely views around three sides. Once again, we never heard anyone play that piano. The service overall was excellent, except if you ordered iced tea. Then you had to wait and wait, and beg for refills. The food was not that good, however, and was our greatest disappointment about this cruise. My daughter ordered a dish one evening that consisted of a baked potato, blue cheese and caviar - it smelled so badly that our entire table noticed! It’s a good thing that we were an easy going bunch who found humor in the situation! The Garden Room was the other main dining room and was only open for dinner. It was much smaller than Windows, and lacked the grandeur and the views. The dinner menus were the same for both of these restaurants. There was almost always a wait to dine if you wanted a table for two, and sometimes this wait could be 20 or 30 minutes. If you didn’t mind sitting with a group you could usually go right in. Note about dining: It regularly took about two hours for us to have lunch or dinner in the main dining rooms. Keep that in mind if you are planning to attend a show or a visit to shore afterward. Breakfast was much quicker, but avoid the scrambled eggs! They were the powdered variety. The buffet restaurant, Raffles, was awful. We did eat there on several occasions because of time, and it was always the same: crowded, long lines, and awful food. We began to notice that the food often consisted of last nights entrees from the main dining rooms! If you have to eat there as we did, so you don’t miss a show or shore trip, then stick with the fruit, bread, and find the meat carving station. Almost every time we ate there, a meat carving station was available where a server would carve off your serving - and it was very tasty. We didn’t buy it, but the soda card was $35.00 plus gratuities, for all you can drink sodas. The iced tea, coffee, espresso and cappuccino were no extra charge and excellent. Alcoholic beverages were expensive, in the $6-$10 range for a small and very weak margarita, daiquiri or other mixed drink. We did try Shogun, the Asian specialty restaurant, but were not impressed. The ship offers two-for-one specials for the alternative dining rooms if you eat early on most nights. The Chocolate Buffet turned into a joke. People literally waited in line for hours and never did even get a taste of it. The Blue Lagoon was good for a late night snack such as a hot dog, burger, or wanton soup. Room Service was good for cold breakfast such as fruit, a Danish or cold cereal, and coffee. For lunch or dinner we saw some guests go directly to the main dining rooms and order trays that they could take back up to their rooms. Entertainment: The onboard production company was not impressive. They lacked both talent and enthusiasm. There was one male dancer who just shined on that stage, and he really stood out compared to the other lame performers. The NCL shows did not even come close to those on our previous cruises. The comedy of guest comedian Adam Ace was the entertainment highlight, and he performed twice during the cruise. He is hilarious, and has a really fun show. Another guest entertainer was tenor singer Chris Riggins, and he was also quite good. The onboard NCL bands were OK, not great. The Harmony and Rhythm band played upbeat disco or dance tunes every night at the Galaxy of the Stars starting at 10:30 pm. The night life ended at about midnight, so if you are young and looking for active night life try a Caribbean cruise. We walked around the whole ship one evening just after midnight and saw no other people! For something mild, Skippy and the band Pryme Time played your standard favorites at Champagne Charlie’s in the early evening. The problem here was that these performances were ship favorites, and Champagne Charlie’s, located in the main atrium area, only seats about 30 people. It would get so crowded with people standing everywhere! Other events, such as photography workshops, scrapbook workshops, towel animal making, etc, were usually under attended but interesting and informative. Ship Photos: Ship photos were kept to an acceptable minimum. In fact, we only had our photo taken at embarkation, once at dinner, and at the ports of call. At each port of call, a character in a whale or eagle suit will grab you for a photo. These photos are really cute, and almost always have a gorgeous background of the local scenery. Here’s the problem: they like to grab only one person at a time for these photos. If you are traveling with someone else, make sure they get you together for the photo. This will save you a bit of money, since the photos are $13.00 each. Ports: Be aware that getting on or off the ship could require standing in long lines! It helps if you have your room card and your photo ID out and ready for inspection. Ketchikan: It was raining but still beautiful. We decided against Misty Fjords flight-seeing because it was so overcast. The town is beautiful, and you can walk around easily and see totem poles, Creek Street, and Married Man’s Walk. The locals were so nice! Bring an umbrella! It was cool outside, but don’t overdress. Jeans, a long sleeved shirt and light waterproof jacket were all that we needed. Plus good comfortable walking shoes. A backpack for carrying camera, binoculars, etc. is also a great idea. There is great shopping, for just about anything you want from totem poles to Salmon Jerky! Juneau: We did not book an excursion. Instead we took a $5 (for both ways) shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. The shuttles are very easy to find, and ticket booths for several companies are set up lining the dock area. They don’t honor each others tickets though, so make sure that you find your company’s shuttle! Shuttles leave every 30 minutes, both to Mendenhall and returning from Mendenhall. Our shuttle driver even gave us a tour-lecture during the short ride. Once at the glacier, we paid $3 per person for the visitor’s center. If you only want to use the rest room or the book store, you don’t even have to pay the $3. This ended up being a very inexpensive but delightful trip for us. The weather was overcast but not raining. It was cool and comfortable, wearing jeans, long sleeved shirt and light jacket. The glacier was beautiful, and we took a hike over to the waterfall which is as close to the glacier as you can get. We didn’t know the trails, but they were easy to figure out. While at the waterfall, we heard the thunderous roar as the glacier unexpectedly calved. Don’t expect to see any wildlife here - although it was not crowded, there were too many people around for the animals to make an appearance. We had been told that you could see all you wanted to see of Mendenhall in about an hour. We were there for about three hours. If you are physically able and like to walk or hike, take the time to explore the trails here. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Sawyer Glacier: The cruise through Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier was smooth and the way littered with small to medium icebergs. We sat on our balcony and watched the scenery go by for hours. Captain Lars was able to maneuver the ship very close to Sawyer Island, which is very close to the glacier itself. There are actually two glaciers, North Sawyer and South Sawyer. We saw them both as the ship was turned around for the return trip. We had been told to expect many seals perched on the icebergs, but we only saw one. Skagway: We did the White Pass and Yukon Railway train through the ship. It was very informative and the scenery beautiful. I purchased the DVD for $15.00, and having now watched it, the DVD is definitely worth the money. The DVD’s were sold on the train during the trip, but they are also available at the train depot which is just a very short walk into Skagway - you can’t miss it. Don’t worry about which side of the train you sit on. We were on the right side going up, and were against the cliff. Once we got to the top the conductor wisely had everyone switch seats with the people in the opposite row, so if you didn’t get the view on the way up, you got it on the way down! We were not allowed to get off the train due to customs. For a diversion during the train ride, some rock art had been arranged on the ground by someone unknown, and every once in awhile, if you were looking, you would see a simple “sculpture” along the way up. This trip is $89 per adult if you reserve directly through the railway website instead of the cruise line ($99). The train depot is very easy to find and only a short walk into town. The depot also has a very nice shop. Wireless internet?? None of the internet cafes in town (not even Starbuck’s) had wireless service. Here’s how we did find wireless: when you get off the ship turn right and go down to the gray building at that end of the pier (the town of Skagway is down the pier in the other direction). I think this gray building is the ferry terminal, and it has a few benches out front. We were able to access wireless service from there (its not free, but its much less expensive than the .75 cents per minute onboard). Prince Rupert: We booked a whale watching tour through the cruise line. Our tour operator was SeaCharters, our tour guide was Colin, and they did a great job. There were about twenty people on our four hour trip, and we most definitely did find whales, whales and more whales. Our boat captain did a great job, and was able to get us very close to killer whales numerous times. We also saw many bald eagles and a few humpback’s. I don’t know if you can contact SeaCharters directly for this tour, but it is worth a try if you want to save some money. This city is a developing cruise port, and they don’t have a lot of shopping yet; however, the local art sold there was the nicest we saw anywhere. The town is beautiful, they held a festival for the cruise passengers on a grassy knoll across from the cruise port, and the locals were very friendly. We departed at 10:00 pm, and the town sent us away with a fireworks show. Debarkation: Debarkation was scheduled between the hours of 8:15 am and 11:30 am Saturday morning, and each room got a set of colored luggage tags on Friday, each color corresponding to a different debarkation time. We had an early flight, which the cruise line was informed about through our advanced guest registration. However, we were assigned a later debarkation time. I went to the information desk to change our debarkation color so we wouldn’t miss our flight and was very rudely accommodated after standing in line for about 20 minutes. Debarkation was a madhouse. Guests were advised not to go to the debarkation area until their color/time was announced, but instead to wait in the restaurants or in their rooms. Most people did not listen, and congregated in the debarkation area anyway. At 8:25 when the first group was allowed off, the area was so crowded that we almost could not get through. And many of those people had debarkation times of 10:00 or later. It’s hard to blame the cruise staff when the guests don’t follow very clear instructions, but NCL did not do anything to correct the situation, either. Final Comments: We made the best of our trip and had many great experiences, but will not cruise with NCL again and do not recommend this cruise to others. It was a very low-budget experience in too many ways.

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Apr 10, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Steve and Sophie Brooks This was our second cruise. We are at a point in our life where many more will be booked. Our first was with Royal Caribbean and we did enjoy the trip very much. NCL’s Spirit was a beautiful ship and the rooms were of ample size with plenty of storage. The food was great in Windows, The Garden, and even in Raffles which was a buffet style dining. We enjoyed our time on Cayman and Roatan Island. Cayman

was pretty commercial and very expensive but the beaches were stunning and the waters crystal clear. I had heard that there was lots of poverty on Roatan but even being warned I was shocked at how most of the islanders lived. Electricity was a recent addition to the island (1990). With all the poverty on the island we were amazed at how friendly and well mannered the population was. This could have been a great vacation. Unfortunately the cruise line allowed a Chicago radio station (B96.3)to book 200 contest winners on the same cruise. The radio station is an alternative rock station whose demographics are that of young people who love to drink too much, like their music loud with lots of bass, and whose vocabulary is mostly four letter words. We were annoyed that on the first full day out the radio station group was allowed to take over the only adult pool for 2 of the warmest hours of the afternoon. Later that night, they were also allowed to have a “wet t-shirt contest” pool side. The theme of the night seemed to be that of “Girls Gone Wild” as a few of the females exposed their bare breasts to the crowd. Again, way too much drinking and very little control by the ship’s crew. This type of behavior is unacceptable when there are families with small children who have access to the common areas. We also did not appreciate all the B96.3 banners that were hung about the ship. It seemed to us that the cruise was sponsored by the group. It really took away from the ambiance of this beautiful ship. The last straw was on Thursday night when my wife went for a stroll on the deck to walk off dinner and I went to drop some money in the casino. She came back to the room and told me that she had walked toward the back of the ship where the children’s pool is located and found yet another radio station party. At this party she saw a woman and two young men dancing without any clothes and one of the men performed oral sex at the pool shower. Now keep in mind, this party was condoned by the ship. They were selling their booze and supplying the food. My wife also mentioned that several children (well below 18) were on the same upper deck looking down on the lewd behavior. She also mentioned that the radio station DJs were using very foul language i.e. “ The F’ing Cubs are going to win this year” At that point I went to the reception desk to complain. Shortly after complaining and requesting to speak to someone in authority, several other people came to make the same complaint. Apparently after my wife left, the fun really started. One daughter/mother combination witnessed a man and woman having sex and announced to the crowd that they wanted to have a baby. Another saw a woman providing oral sex to a young man. Imagine your children playing in an area where bodily fluids had been exchanged the night before. No amount of cleaning would make me feel comfortable. When NCL security was approached by the mother/daughter pair, nothing was done. In fact the laughter indicated that security was enjoying the show! I also spoke to a gentleman from England who was there to complain about the noise (that strong bass again). He and his wife had a stateroom located immediately under the sound equipment at the children’s pool. The only thing the ship would offer was the use of a sleeping cabin if they wanted some quite. We felt so sorry for this nice older couple. Our crowd remained in the lobby wanting someone to shut the party down as it had crossed the line. The ship representative refused to do anything by saying they could not. I asked to speak to the captain and was told he was sleeping and could not be disturbed. I then asked for the name of NCL’s CEO so I could contact him on return to port. At that time they requested that the ship’s entertainment officer come down talk to us and moved our group into the corner of the lobby (to keep us out of sight?). After speaking to the officer that was provided and not getting anywhere we finally managed to get the Star Captain (officer in charge after hours). He indicated that they did eject some of the rowdier people at the party but there was nothing more he could do. The Star Captain did have one of the ladies at the reception desk provide us with business cards listing the telephone number for NCL’s Customer Relations and also hand wrote the CEO’s name. Back in our room we got to hear the party move into the stateroom above ours. It was a long and sleepless night. I do plan to contact Colin Veitch within the next few days to express my utter disgust in the way the cruise line handled the various events during our cruise. I hold them responsible for allowing a group of scum to highjack the cruise and ruin our vacation. Our 5 day vacation was spent on a party barge. One bright spot did happen when we boarded the bus at the terminal for the trip to Miami International. I over heard a young lady who was part of the radio crowd talking about the cruise. Her last comment was “there were so many things on so many levels that were really wrong”. At least someone knew it was wrong. NCL sure didn’t.

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By C.B._CR

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Mar 27, 2005

Southern Caribbean

NCL _ Norwegian This was my first NCL cruise, after cruising Cunard in the past. I had fairly low expectations for this cruise, which left Miami on Easter Sunday for a five night trip to the Western Caribbean. I disembarked 5 days later thinking that I had never had so much fun in my life. The first night we had a bottle of Moet Chandon in the Galaxy of the Stars as the lights of Miami slipped away from us. The Galaxy of the Stars

was surprisingly calm and quiet throughout most of our trip. It is at the fore, directly above the bridge, and with the exception of the New Year's Eve party (held every cruise), the bingo games, and a few other enetertainment events, it is just a quiet place to watch the sea and have a drink. The main dining rooms are elegant, and the service was superb. Windows, the largest of the dining rooms, has a spectacular view off the stern. The food was excellent. The menu was inventive and everything was fresh and thoughtfully presented. We ate at one of the specialty restaurants, Shogun, which my mother loved but which I found to be pretty average. There is a snack bar of sorts, the Blue Lagoon, that is open 24 hours, but which smells like grease and is, oddly enough, right smack in the middle of one of the main thoroughfares. The buffet restaurant, Raffles, was pretty scary, and we only ate there when we missed the seatings at Windows (watch for this- Windows stops serving breakfast at 9am when the ship is in port and you, too, will be in line at Raffles with the huddled masses). Raffles was actually a hit or miss: the food was either terrible or okay. Nothing special. I can't emphasize enough how fantastic the food was at Windows and The Garden... the soups, salads, desserts- all just top notch. The pool was a good size and the surrounding deck area was sufficient for the parties that seemed to take place every night. The Caribbean themed party on night three was insane- people were partying and dancing, and the wind was whipping by, and it was a definite highlight of the trip. There were no episodes of boorishness or over-the-top drunkenness that I witnessed, and I pulled all-nighters on the last two nights of the trip. The only issue I have with the Tivoli pool area is that the chairs do not fit very well on the upper balcony, and it is a constant struggle to navigate your way past the other sunbathers. There is a pseudo-English pub, Henry's, that has some nice music and a very mellow feel to it. Another pub-like place, the Bier Garten, has absolutely the worst food I think I have ever eaten in my life. The housekeeping staff was solicitous and seemed to spend 24 hours a day right outside my stateroom. They were one of the highlights of the cruise. "How are you, Madam?" they would call out, sing song fashion, and they went a very long way toward making me want to go home and buy stock in NCL. Grand Cayman was a total disappointment and was not even worth the tender trip. The shops were a complete rip-off, and a port that could probably hold three cruise ships decently had five on the day we were there. Overweight Americans were jaywalking and yelling at their kids, and I didn't see anyone smile the whole time we were there (which was about an hour). We raced back to the ship and spent the whole day relaxing on board. Roatan Beach was a different story. The snorkeling was excellent, the native Hondurans were friendly, and the Tabyana Beach area was stunning. Note: book your shore excursions early. There was a strange hawking of gold, silver (buy it by the inch!!) and gems the entire voyage. I certainly do not remember this from the QEII. Ironically, the Duty Free shop was very small, and if it had three people in it I would not go in for fear of knocking $25.00 shampoo off the shelves. One thing to remember- although you will find some pretty useless things for sale on board, you will not find diapers or baby bottles. One poor woman had to beg a spare bottle off a stranger when she misplaced her baby's during embarkation in Miami. The Casino does the trick. Once again, the dealers, bartenders and waiters make the experience- friendly, knowledgeable, well spoken and always willing to take the time to make you comfortable. One of the officers told me that the casino is half the size it was when the Spirit was the SuperStar Leo, and you can see where it was reduced. There are other signs of its former life as an Asian cruise ship- karaoke rooms that show up on maps but no longer exist, a mahjongg room (where people play Monopoly and Scrabble)and a few Asian themed decorations here and there. The Freestyle Cruising concept is a godsend. There are times when you shouldn't expect to saunter in to one of the main dining rooms and sit down immediately, but there are display screens posted throughout the ship that list the waiting times for each restaurant. If you see one start to fill up, you can just gather up your party and go eat. If it says "full," use your brain and don't go there. We never had a problem eating after nine or before 7:30. The specialty restaurants have cover charges of about $15.00 each. There were two 2-for-1 cover charge nights on our cruise. That's $7.50 each to eat at Maxim's Steak House- who can complain? The entertainment was either totally cheesy or surprisingly good. The revues at the Moulin Rouge were like bad American Idol outtakes, although as my mother said, "they really did put their hearts into it." They certainly didn't put their voices into it... or their costume design efforts... in fact- stay away from Moulin Rouge. The comedian, Dave Heenan, was hilarous. My mother was crying with laughter the whole flight home. He has a bit about what it sounds like to call the ship from shore- complete with strangled Norwegian accents- that was rich. Skippy the Piano Player and the three bands on ship were quite good. The internet cafe cost me $100.00 to send out a few emails and if you can skip it, do. The fitness center is absolutely gorgeous. People were grumbling about the wait for Spa treatments, but we had some rough and rainy weather and I think the indoor features were a bit overloaded in general. There were plenty of children on the cruise, but they were out of sight and out of mind for me. They tend to feed at Raffles, and they have their own pool with two modest waterslides and a Jacuzzi. The teenagers were a different story. Everywhere I went they were having the time of their lives. I have never seen such happy teens. They behaved themselves very well and did not block staircases or act inappropriately. They seemed to spend every night at the Celebrity Disco, where they were served non-alcoholic smoothies and things of that nature. Quite a few shipboard romances were clearly brewing, in contrast to the adults: I think my mother and I were among approximately 6 single people on board. Good thing we found the other four and had a blast with them. The service aboard the Spirit is what I will always remember as the best thing about the cruise. Literally nothing I wished for I didn't get. One low point was when the time came to book future cruises. Feeling the buzz of the cruise I decided to throw down a big chunk of cash to take four of my sons on a cruise this summer. Sadly for me and for NCL the man in charge of future cruise bookings, Duncan, was pretty abrupt and could not find a way for me to book an NCL cruise. I just booked a Carnival cruise this morning- 8 days out of Galveston in August. I am hesitant to cruise Carnival after Cunard and NCL, but apparently only Carnival will let me travel with four kids under 21. The thing about the Spirit is that the whole far surpasses the sum of its parts. We met some great people, drank our heads off, read quietly in the library, saw happy kids, took silly pictures, ate incredible food in a serene setting three times a day, slept in comfortable beds, got tan, snorkeled, worked out, walked the ship endlessly, laughed, relaxed, and left wondering if they would hire a lawyer from Buffalo as a waitress, and if so, which dining room I would want to work in. It was a great cruise and would have been worth it at ten times the price.  

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Mar 18, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Mike Lecuyer We just got back from a 9-day cruise on the Norwegian Spirit. This was our fifth cruise and our second cruise with Norwegian and definitely our last with them. The food was lousy, the décor was tacky, the nightlife and the entertainment was terrible, and service was mediocre. Don’t take me wrong, we had a great time BUT we expected a lot more from the cruise line. We went during a very busy time, school vacation week

and the boat was packed. And guess what, there wasn’t much for the younger kids or teens to do on the boat, so the younger ones played on the elevators all day or hoped in and out of the hot tubs. We felt sorry for them The food in Ruffle’s, the buffet style restaurant was very basic and bland. They offered pizza every afternoon but you could tell it was a cheap frozen, boxed pizza. I am not a fan of frozen pizza, I like a good pizza pie, however there a few somewhat tolerable frozen pizzas and the rest should not even be called pizza. They served the kind that shouldn’t be called pizza. On Good Friday the only fish they offered in Ruffles was tuna fish salad. The cheesecake that I tried tasted like the Jell-O pudding type. They even ran out of lemon aide half way through the cruise. The dining room food was a little bit better but not much to brag about. Freestyle dining is somewhat of a joke. Eat when you want to eat they tell you, however it seemed like everyone wanted to eat at the same time. Most of the time you had to wait but they were installing a pager system so hopefully that will help future guest. We went to the dining room on the night they served lobster, we arrived shortly after they opened at 5:30 and the hallway outside the dining room was jammed packed with people and people where lined up coming down the stairs. Pity on anyone that got off the elevator; people standing in line where screaming at them to get at the end of the line, that they’ve been waiting in line for an hour. Old people with walkers were getting hostile and threatening people! I’ve never seen anything like it before. They had the same comedian, Dave Heenan, at least they advertised him as a comedian, do three shows. Aren’t comedians supposed to be funny and make you laugh? This guy wasn’t funny the first night so we did bother to see his other shows and were told by other guest that we didn’t miss anything. The other comedian, Peter Sasso was just okay. We sat through 5 agonizing minutes of the musical production Greased Lighting before walking out. We’ve been to high school musicals that were much better than that. The port director wasn’t of much help when we asked what beaches to go to or where we could go snorkeling on the islands. They suggested we look at the port map! They only seemed interested in SHOPPING. We went on shore excursion and only got to see half of the sights mentioned in the brochure. When we told the shore excursion staff about it they told us to fill out a comment card and someone would get back to us. Never happened. Having been on 4 other cruises I would rate this the worst of all the cruise experiences. Funny thing is, we thoroughly enjoyed all of our other cruise experiences, even the first Norwegian cruise.

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Mar 4, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Norwegian Cruise Line NCL Spirit Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Doris Matherly I am writing this review to help others who may consider traveling on NCL. I will never travel with this cruise line again and it is not because of the food, or the entertainment, or the itinerary. It is because of their lack of accommodation to a reasonable request to have a decent bed in which to sleep in a room for which we had paid top dollar. When

we booked this cruise for the three of us, we were assured we would have a room for three people on the luxury deck of the eleventh floor (12 floors total). This was supposed to be a luxury room with a private deck and ocean view etc. The first thing we noticed upon arrival in the room was that there were only two beds and a small little settee in a corner. We are three adult women. I volunteered to sleep on the little settee which the steward had come in and unfolded around eight p.m. and made into somewhat of a trundle bed. Even though I had my reservations that this bed would even hold the weight of a first grader, I attempted to sleep there the first night. I was shocked from slumber at midnight, as were my two sleeping roommates, when I turned over in the makeshift bed and found my bed (I use the term loosely here) had collapsed when one of the plastic strips holding a thin little slat had come out. I roused myself enough to pull the three inch foam rubber pad up and pull out the slat and repositioned myself into a pretzel like position to offset the gaping sling of the sagging bedding. I think I may have dozed off only to be awakened once again (as were my roommates) by another loud crash. This time, there were four more slats hanging off the cheap little frame and there was not even a place for me to sit to collect myself.....so..... I proceeded bed-head, pajamas and all down to the seventh floor to the desk to complain. They assured me they would send someone up to take care of the situation...which I suppose one could say they did, depending upon if you think one fellow with a screw driver can really make this totally ludicrous situation any better. We explained to the fellow that this was not the solution we were after....we needed a room for three people with three beds for adults. This was fruitless. By six p.m. the second day, we realized the personnel in charge were not going to give us a room for three people which we had contracted and paid for. We went down to the desk to complain again only to be sent to our room where we were eventually met by our steward, someone from housekeeping and a small official looking Asian woman in a nautical type uniform. She kept repeating the phrase in her rather broken english, "I am sorry ma-dam, we cannot upgrade you." NCL's solution here was to bring in a roll-away type bed that resembled a ping pong table when unstrung...only it was about 16 inches off the floor. Once the bed was unsprung with its little four inch pad of foam, we had about five inches between beds to inch our way out of to get to the bathroom....since there was no room at the foot of the beds because that was were our luggage went as there was no place to store it. Even though I pointedly asked the woman if NCL was willing to take the liability of me attempting to sleep on this make shift situation because I already have two herniated disk, and a crack in my coccyx, she could only reply, "I am sorry ma-dam....." The long and short of this is that we were screwed....by NCL. When I returned home and wrote a letter of complaint to the company, the customer relations department said they would send us $150 vouchers for each of us for future cruises on NCL. Now I asked you.....would anyone in their right mind want to cruise with this line again....I think not! When I called the customer relations department they said they would do nothing more for us. I I had it to do over again, since I was already on the ship, I would turn into the loudest mouth complainer they had ever seen, and I would not have shut up until they put us in a stateroom that would accommodate three people with three real beds. Even though I normally try to be discreet and quiet and if I have a complaint to do so in a tactful and thoughtful way, I would complain in a very public way...loud, obnoxious and tenacious!  

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Feb 18, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Kathy Dahms What a fabulous cruise this was, and I've been on enough to know the difference! Last year I posted about the cruise we took on the Dream which was terrible. This year (giving Norwegian another chance) it was wonderful. I will start off with the only negative part of the trip- our arrival in Miami. We are a family of 5 with a fair amount of luggage. We needed to retrieve our bags and take them across 2 islands of heavy

traffic to where the bus would meet us. Well it seems the correct number of buses didn't show up so we waited for 90 minutes until it was our turn for a bus to the ship. Things were very chaotic and unorganized. But.......once we got to the ship things were better. The ship itself is magnificent- well kept and easy to navigate. Everyone was friendly, and very helpful. Our cabin steward Jane, was the most delightful person in the world. We had teenagers with us, who tend not to get up till late, and she took it in stride, even though we were usually the last room she had left. Her assistant Scott (I think that's his name) made wonderful towel animals at night-what a treat. I love freestyle cruising, because I don't need to put extra money aside for tipping at the end(I always however end up tipping more for those who did a good job). I just enjoy not having to worry about it. Surprisingly , I encountered many folks on the last day who wanted the automatic tipping removed from their bills. But I guess that is the whole point of it anyway. The food was always good. I have always felt that the specialty restaurants were just another means of getting more money from passengers, but I was proved wrong. We ate at Shogun the first night, and they had a 2 for 1 special. So for $10 we had peking duck and a wonderful meal. The last night the whole family ate at Jeppanaki- the Japanese steak house which was also very good. The rest of the time we ate at Gardens or Raffles and really enjoyed them. My teens ate every night (actually early morning) at Blue Moon. They are open pretty much 23 hours and have hamburgers, fries and some good oriental noodle dishes. The hamburgers on the ship are cooked with a variety of spices which may not be appealing for all. The bars on the ship were all good. We never made it to the pub, where they had fish and chips. We spent mose nights at Galaxy of the Stars, and became friendly with Rex the bar waiter. What a lovely polite guy. He always kept our drinks full and kept plenty of peanuts on the table. He knew our names and what we liked. Just a great guy-look him up! Went to the casino, lost and won- it works out pretty even. The internet cafe was the same- however I didn't remember that it cost $3.50 to send one email! If you go, use your home email to connect. The excursions are something we usually do on our own. Over the years I have found that getting a tour or taxi off the boat is the best for your money. We did take a tour and swam with the stingrays in Antigua. I had done this before in the Grand Caymans and it was much better. In Antigua, the area is penned in and there isn't much in the way of snorkeling. Complicating our trip was the fact that it was raining pretty hard and we got chilled quickly. The kids went on an ATV trip and had a blast. They had been scheduled for a Rum Rhunner boat in Grenada but it was cancelled because the boat had engine trouble. We had been to all the ports before except Grenada. Grenada is one place I wouldn't bother with until they have a chance to rebuild. It was difficult to walk around the town, there was alot of poverty and not much to do. It rained in Tortola but not enough to keep us from Pussers Bar and their famous pain killers! I had always remembered Barbados as being my favorite spot in the universe. We returned to a beach (mullins bay?) and it had been changed by the hurricanes. Big drop off with lots of coral making it difficult to get in the water. I guess whenever you find a perfect place you should leave it in your mind as just that. Anyway, this was a wonderful vacation, we liked having 9 days to unwind. One more thing, the captain of the ship was a riot. You could actually understand his announcements and he had a great sense of humor! Please feel free to email me with any questions

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Feb 16, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Janine and Dean We have recently returned from our cruise on the Norwegian Spirit. What can we say other than it was absolutely FABULOUS!!! The ship is absolutely gorgeous and very well laid out. FOOD: We found the food on the ship to be very good. We ate in Raffles, Windows and the Garden. I liked the variety of food always available in Raffles. If we chose to eat in either The Garden or Windows we never had a problem being seated

as some other people have mentioned. If you go early around five thirty p.m or late around nine thirty p.m you will invariable be seated immediately. If you go in between times the wait is usually short even though the crowd waiting may look large. It moves along quickly and efficiently. The service in both the sit down restaurants was always excellent and the wait staff, friendly and polite and you are treated like you are in a very expensive restaurant. The food is visually appealing in the way it is presented and we found it to be excellent at all times. Every might there seems to be a different theme to the menu. The desserts were prepared in the style of first class pastry chefs. We always ate breakfast in Raffles and found the variety of breakfast fare great. Something for everyone. We found that going to the omelet station suited us best as the omelet's were prepared fresh right in front of you and you could choose from plain omelets or to have cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes or ham added or all of the above. There is food all over the ship at all times and no matter what you have or where you have it, it is all good. BARS: There are many bars to choose from depending on what you like to do. We got into the habit of having before dinner cocktails in the BUNDT on the Promenade deck before dinner each evening. LEO and ARISHELLA that work that bar in the evening are just the greatest hosts and bartenders. They are just so personable and fun to be around. We had many laughs with them and thoroughly enjoyed their company all nine nights. A very friendly bar and we met many nice people at that bar. No matter how shy are reserved one might be you will find yourself easily conversing with the people sitting on either side of you in no time while there. I think this might be because of the bar staffs friendly and outgoing attitude toward the patrons and their easy flowing conversation that one soon finds themselves all talking to each other. I don't remember all the people that worked at that bar on occasion, but they were all friendly and excellent hosts. Leo and Arishella were there all the time and we will never forget them. The nicest folks you could wish to meet. After dinner we would normally make our way to the Galaxy of the Stars and listen to the band, which was excellent and very professional or to the comedian. The comedian was hot and cold, some nights good and others not so good. But still it was entertaining and enjoyable. The wait staff in there was very efficient and friendly, as they are everywhere else on the ship. They soon got to know our names and knew what drinks we liked to order. A very nice nice nightclub type atmosphere and very relaxing. After the Galaxy of the Stars, later in the evening we found ourselves getting into the habit of going to the Celebrity Disco for the Karaoke, not that we are Karaoke singers. We would go because it was so much fun in there, watching the other people performing. Eddie the DJ is a character and sometimes would venture out of his little booth and give us a song or two in a very comedic way. He has a very deep voice but tended to sing songs in a very high pitched voice. We grew quite fond of Eddie and his always smiling face. Often some of the Entertainers from the ship would also wind up in the disco and entertain us some more one way or another, weather intentional or not. The Celebrity Disco I would say is a very entertaining and fun way to wind down your evening. ENTERTAINEMENT: We went to the shows nightly in the Moulin Rouge. A perfectly fabulous auditorium. There is not a bad seat in the house, no matter where you sit. We thoroughly enjoyed all the shows. We found the comedian/magician Scott Alexender to be exceptionally good. Though a very talented magician he was an excellent comedian. A very, very funny man. He had us laughing out loud every time we saw him. There was a very good lounge type singer who's first name escapes me right now , but his last name was Washington. Not exactly our cup of tea, but very good at what he did none the less. He sang tunes in the genre of Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis etc, etc. The NCL Production Company did a very nice job on the two or three different productions that they put on. Very enjoyable and entertaining and it was evident that they put a great deal of effort into putting on a good show. Props and costumes were very professional. I am sure many of them will go far in their careers, they certainly had talent. Ricky the social director was great. He always introduced the shows and entertainers and came on briefly after they were done to tell us what was upcoming. A most personable fella who did a fine job. He was a great host at the pool party and other events on board. A young man that has definately found his niche. While speaking of entertaining we can't forget the captain, who himself was pretty entertaining. Cheers! to Captain Lars Bengsston! LAND EXCURSIONS: We booked a land excursion on every island we went to, seeing as how we were not too sure of where to go or what to do. We were glad we did. We booked 4x4 excursions on each of the islands. We got to see the off the beaten track parts of the islands and parts one would not normally see. Our guides were most gracious and informative on of the excursions. Some of them were quite the comedians too. We got to learn about the history and the culture of the islands from these very informative guides. We thought all the islands to be very beautiful and exotic. The flora of the islands is just magnificent. The only excursion that we found to be somewhat depressing was Grenada, due to the devastation that island suffered in September 2004 from hurricane Ivan. It is slowly restoring, but I do stress "slowly" The amount of work to be done there is enormous. Most of the canopy is totally gone, but much of the ground cover has returned in a very short amount of time and many of the plants have grown back already. We felt very sad for the local people there. Many still without electricity or even roofs on their homes. However the people remain a surprisingly upbeat people and still manage to smile and be friendly. Our 4x4 driver was an elderly gentleman who explained to us that he had been retired before the hurricane, but had to return to working in order to rebuild his home and get his family back together. His wife and children were all living in different parts of the island with friends and family due to the fact that their home was destroyed. He told us this because we asked him how it had affected him and not because he was trying to get our sympathy or our money. It certainly opened our eyes to how fortunate the rest of us are.   We found Antigua and St Lucia to be the most exotic and beautiful islands of all. The views on St. Lucia are simply breathtaking. The sight of seeing the Pitons is something one would normally only see in National Geographic Magazine. Tortola was also very beautiful but was somewhat marred by the unfortunate weather that we had that particular day. The bays there are just lovely and I am sure would look a whole lot lovelier in clear weather. Unfortunately it was mostly rainy and cloudy and misty while we were there. Even so we still enjoyed ourselves. During our tour there we stopped at a lovely restaurant on a very pretty bay where we had a really great lunch and some great local rum punch. We had rum punch on all the islands but I must say the rum punch on Tortola was quite something else.. Good thing everyone was only given one cup of it.. Need I say more. OVERALL: As you can tell we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the Norwegian Spirit. We really cannot find anything bad to say about the whole trip. The ship, the staff, the service, the islands, everything was much more than I expected. Maybe the only bad thing was the first three days the weather was not too kind, but that was down to Mother Nature and not much can be done about that. Even so it was not that bad and it hardly put a damper on the experience. There was plenty to do onboard the ship as this inclement weather was during the three days at sea before reaching the islands. For the most part the weather was great except for those first three days and our day in Tortola. A few of the reviews that I have read that are not favorable are baffling to me. The people that have written them must be very hard to please people because we could find none of the things that they pointed out as not being up to par to be a problem. Well maybe the beds were not quite like the beds we have at home and were maybe a little firm, but certainly were not uncomfortable. We slept just fine. As for lines at restaurants, well that was not a problem either. You just have to choose your time at which you eat a little differently. Remember eat early or late..... no lines........ If you eat during prime time, the wait is really not very long even though it looks like a lot of people waiting it moves right along. We would recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to just go relax, have fun and be treated extraordinary well by all staff on board. One more thing, absolute huge kudos to housekeeping. Those people do a more than excellent job of keeping your cabin in a tip top condition of cleanliness. I swear they go in there every time you leave your room. I know we had been in the room during the day for a few minutes a few times and maybe used a hand towel in the bathroom. We would come back and it was already replaced with a clean one. I hope this was helpful to anyone considering going on this cruise!

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Feb 4, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Helen Donohoe We cruised on the Norwegian Spirit, Feb 4 – 13,’05 to the southern Caribbean and had a delightful all around experience! We had read some ‘not so good reviews’ about the service and waiting in line to eat, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Also, we had never done the “freestyle eating” thing. Celebrating our 26th anniversary, we were hoping for a wonderful time. Well, the Norwegian Spirit and its crew

exceeded our expectations! The boarding process was speedy and hassle free. Our bags were in our room within a couple of hours. The ship was very clean and they encouraged hand washing with sanitizer dispensers all over the ship. The food was delicious and we never had to wait to be seated. ( We are on a later schedule than some, as we don’t eat dinner till 7 or 8-which probably helped that situation) We loved the freestyle eating plan! Also, all the other restaurants on the ship (with the small cover charge) were outstanding. The captain was very friendly to all –it seemed we kept running into him around the ship. Our overall experience was 5 star- we will cruise with Norwegian again and especially on the Spirit! One tip I have….wait till you’re in port to do your e mailing. In each port we found an ‘Internet café’ and had 20 minutes online for about $2.00, Compared to .75 a minute on the ship. Happy cruising!  

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By Dan_CR

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Jan 21, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Dan Elseman This is our second trip on the Spirit the first being last May,2004 to Alaska. Let me say this first. WE, my wife and I, really like the ship and it's crew. We found the food in both Windows and the Garden room to be wonderful and the service first rate. Give me the world crews on NCL any day. They seem to appreciate the fact they have a job and go out of their way to please. Having served in the Navy I've learned that the

higher you bunk the more the ship rolls. So for us, we booked our cabin on deck 6 a little forward of mid-ship. It was perfect. My wife loved the towel animals the staff made each night and the candies on the pillow are a nice touch. Small things but it's the little things that you appreciate the most I think. Entertainment? Some were very good and others just OK but none were bad. Ports; We both felt Grenada was the most exotic even though Ivan really caused them harm. They told us it will take 13 years before the spice trees come back on line and that the tourists are the only source of income for now. Still the people we met were gracious and very friendly. Barbados; Was OK, perhaps the most developed island on the trip. The landscape, for us at least, was not nearly as exotic as Grenada or St. Lucia, our favorite. St. John left much to be desired as the smell from the open sewers put us off some. Outside of town the place is beautiful however... Tortola; Pretty much the normal island. American style stores and unlike the other islands where the cars are right hand drive and they drive on the left side of the road, in Tortola they have American cars with left hand drive and they drive on the left hand side of the road, go figure. The island is pretty and getting around is no problem. And on the note. We learned from our Alaskan trip that we could do better tours on our own and at a lower cost. However if your not used to bartering you might want to stay with the ship deals. Conclusion; We love the freestyle system used by NCL. We never waited more then ten minutes to get a table for two. Yes, some folks did dress up but for the most part a nice pair of slacks and a Polo shirt will do nicely for dinner. During the day anything but shorts and you'll look stupid. We plan on taking another cruise later this year and NCL will be a part of it. One other thing. Everyone and I mean everyone we met comments on the cleanliness of the ship. They keep it spotless. I've read some poor reviews for this ship and can't figure it out. Our opinion is that they work for another cruise line as none of what they complained about was experienced by us or anyone else we talked with.  

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Jan 7, 2005

Southern Caribbean

J. Prete We were a little hesitant to try this cruise not knowing what to expect of freestyle dining. However, we liked the itinerary so we went ahead. We are glad we did, and will explain why. First, lets clear one thing up, EVERYONE on the staff from cabin stewards to busboys, were exceptionally friendly and kind. They all went out of their way to make our cruise a delight. Every waiter was wonderful, and if you dine in the alternative

restaurants (which we did 6 times) the staff is as attentive as any 5 star restaurant you will ever go to. (Especially Jennifer and Shu at Shogun, went three times there) There were some common meals in the main dining room, however most were of fine quality. We totally loved freestyle dining, because you go to dinner when and where you want to. Yes, if you want a table for two in the main dining room, you may have to wait 10-15 minutes, however, no other cruise line offers tables for two! so those who complain about a wait, how long would you wait on another line. We wanted to be alone most evenings since we really were away for a romantic getaway, noy a meet people week. However if you want to sit with others and meet new people, you will have no wait. The ship itself is very nice, not exceptionally spacious, but certainly gracious. The public areas are sufficient, and there are many cozy spots to relax. The entertainment was good, not great (which is our experience on all cruise ships, if they were great they would be in Broadway), however the musicians that play at the clubs, lounges etc. were excellent. There is enough variety to please all ages. Cabins are a bit small, however the bathroom is the largest I have ever had. Your towels will be fresh every time you leave your cabin! I am not going to over scrutinize every detail, as if I (like some reviews I read) are dissecting something piece by piece. I will tell you that everyone I met on the cruise were having a great time, and I would personally take the same cruise again. Was Grenada not the best port? Yes, it is hard hit and run down, but maybe we need to see things like these from time to time. However all the other ports were absolutely beautiful! If you get to horseback ride on St. Lucia (Belle Cheval) you will have the experience of a lifetime. The views will be remembered forever. Book online early, there are only 16 horses. Summing it up, if you are considering this cruise, book it. It's value is well worth it. If you are a fuss pot (as some apparently are from thier over negative reviews) book Princess and be with the rest of the fuss pots.

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Nov 19, 2004

Southern Caribbean

Cathie S. First let me say that a cruise is generally what you make it... good or bad. This is a visually beautiful ship with an Asian theme. If this was your first cruise, you probably would have thought it was wonderful, but if you have been on as many as I have you probably would try another line. With that said here is my experience. Embarkation: This was very easy, if you drive to the port like we do, Port of Miami makes

it easy to pull up to the drop off in front of the pier (we got on at pier three), drop off your luggage and go and park in the parking garage. We arrived at about 1:00 p.m. and went right in. We did not wait in line at all. Our only complaint here was that the person directing traffic at the counter seemed to think it was more important to have no line than to have people backed up at the counter. So instead of waiting for people to be finished at the counter, he was stacking them up two deep. It would have been much easier just to wait for an open counter. Cabin: This was our first MAJOR problem. We got on this cruise last minute and took an inside cabin. When we got into the cabin it smelled of smoke like you would not believe. Now I'm not a super picky person, but this cabin was not livable, the stench was terrible. SO the first thing we did was go down to the reception desk and try to get moved. No Go, they were booked solid. I told them that I did not want to spend my vacation going from one asthma attack to another. They said that they would "sanitze the room". I don't know what this entailed, but it included an air cleaner that they put under the desk in the room. This helped, and they were quick to do it, but the room still smelled and if you used the hair dryer in the room, you would swear someone was blowing smoke in your face. Again, if you are a smoker, this may not be a problem for you, but it was a big problem for us. Otherwise, the room was a standard inside. The bathroom was bigger than most and the shower was very large with a sliding glass door which was nice. The beds were awful, but when they pushed them together to make a queen, they put a pad on top of them to make them softer. This helped, but it was still a standard cruise bed. The cabin stewards were courteous and made every effort to help, but they were not as friendly as I've had on other crews. I feel that this is because of the "automated tipping" process. With that said, they were still very competent. Crew: For the most part I found the crew on the Spirit very nice. Most were very friendly and truly seemed to enjoy their jobs. The cruise directors staff was friendly and made an extra effort to get to know everyone by name. Waitstaff would be the one exception to this. Again I think this is because of Freestyle dining and the automated tipping. I have never been on a cruise where the waitstaff was so unfriendly. Actually, the people that worked the buffet were the nicest, which is unusual. Dining: MAJOR PROBLEM #2 - We've decided freestyle dining is not for us. The Spirit has two main dining rooms, Windows and The Garden Room. Since The Garden Room was directly under our cabin, we ate there most often. The dining rooms opened for dinner at 5:30. If you were not in line at 4:45, you were going to wait an hour or more to sit and eat. This caused a huge tie up near the dining room with people sitting on the stairs and blocking elevators. We ended up eating at the buffett just to avoid standing on line. If you wanted a table for two, the wait was worse. There were no reservations for the main dining rooms. However.... if you wanted to pay for the alternative dining rooms they were happy to take your reservation. My husband and I tried Maxims one night as we had heard good things in other reviews. It was excellent, and it was very quiet and romantic. It also cost $50.00. The quality of the food was just slightly better than the main dining room. We didn't try any others. The food in all the venues was good, average cruise fare. BY FAR THE BEST HAMBURGER YOU WILL HAVE ON THE SHIP IS IN THE BLUE LAGOON DON'T MISS IT. We have decided that we enjoy traditional dining much more and it will be a driving force behind the choice of our next cruise. Entertainment: The production shows were AWFUL with the exception of the broadway show which was the last of the cruise. Two singers out of the four made your ears hurt. The guest entertainers were wonderful, we had two comedians on the nine day cruise and they were fantastic. They also had an impressionist/singer who was good, but really related to the older people in the audience as the youngest person he did an impression of was michael jackson. The cruise bands were fantastic and well worth seeing. Ports of Call - This was a relaxation cruise for us to de-stress after having been hit by Hurricane Charley. We had no set plans for the islands and booked no shore excursions. I suggest you spend the most time seeing Barbados, it was very beautiful and the people were very friendly. Grenada was terrible and I would not get off the boat if we were to go again. Especially if you are from the Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda area of Florida that was hit by Charley, it looks exactly like what we see here, blue roofs and total destruction. It is very poor and while I'm sure it used to be a beautiful place before the hurricane, it was not a choice I would have made for a cruise stop. St. Lucia and Antigua were roughly the same, we didn't do much there. In fact a friend of ours that we met on the cruise was mugged out in front of the craft market in St. Lucia. By far the best stop was Tortola, and here is the rub with that. We were there from 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 4 and a half hours is not nearly enough for this beautiful place. I suggest ditching Grenada on this cruise and spending more time in Tortola. General: We spent more money on this cruise than we ever have before and I can't tell you where it went. They nickled and dimed you every chance they could get and it adds up. My husband gambles quite a bit and he enjoyed the casino. I like to play bingo, but the average cost of bingo is $49.00 and it goes up to $149.00 on the last day. They payouts are very small compared to other cruises, so I recommend that you only play the last day. Drinks are what they are on other cruises, though on other cruises there are several occasions where drinks are free (Captains reception, etc.), the only free drinks on this cruise were at the very expensive art auction. There is one large pool on this ship, but it is not usually filled with kids because the children have a WONDERFUL childrens pool with slides and fountains. The childrens pool is by far the best one I've ever seen at sea. There is also a lap pool in the spa where you can swim against the current. Galaxy of the Stars lounge is where they have a lot of the late night shows and it is a very nice venue, but gets croweded quickly when there is something fun going on. The main theatre is very nice and the layout is one of the best I've seen, There is not a bad seat in the house and the view even from the back rows is fantastic. The spa is tiny, a wash cut and blow dry in the salon is $60.00 so you can figure out other services from there. They have a very nice library and internet cafe. The internet cafe is .75 per minute if you don't buy a package or you can get 100 minutes for $55.00, but you lose your minutes if you don't use them all. They also offer wireless internet access. The onboard shops are TINY. There is a movie theatre on board, but the one time we went it was full. The bars are all very nice and the little nooks and crannies are fun to find. Tipping: This was another major problem for us. This was a nine day cruise and the cruise line recommends $10.00 per person per day, for a total of $180.00 for the whole cruise that is automatically added to your bill. WHERE DOES THAT GO? We were never told how that money is distributed. I can tell you for sure that some deserved it more than others and I would have much preferred to hand the cash to those who did a really great job. The cruise line says that you can remove the tips from your account, but they make it so difficult to do so that it wasn't worth standing in line (again) to do it. This is not just an NCL thing though... all cruise lines are doing this, but others have given me a breakdown of the tips, I did not receive that here. Disembarkation: If your cruise returns to the same pier that you left on you should not have a problem. We did not get that lucky. We returned to Miami pier number 10. There is no terminal there, just a big warehouse where you get to hunt for your luggage. Getting off the ship was a relatively easy process. It was getting your luggage and finding your car that was the problem. Since we were half a mile away from the pier that we left from, we had to shuttle with ALL OF OUR LUGGAGE to that parking garage. So after picking up our luggage from the warehouse, we had to drag it to a bus, have it loaded on the bus, drive the half mile to the parking garge, have the luggage unloaded and find it again. There was long lines and mass confusion and it was not a fun end to a cruise. All in all, we had a far better time on this cruise than we would have had at home. We relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. I will not, though, go on another NCL cruise. I hope this helps, please feel free to email me if you have any questions.  

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Sep 25, 2004

Alaska

Margaret Stebbins I went on the cruise from Alaska from Vancouver to port in Juno, Ketchikan, and Eureka; however, we only ported in Juno and Ketchikan. We were later informed by another passenger (not by Norwegian staff) that we would not be stopping in Eureka, where we had family waiting for our arrival. Because of the change in ports, I was forced to spend an outrageous $22 to use the internet to inform our family that we would

not be arriving. We did port in Juno and Ketchikan but we were very disappointed with both stops, as all of the shops were closing because we were the last ship of the season and nothing was open. Upon our arrival my guest and I purchased the unlimited soda program for $25 a piece; however, getting a soda was next to impossible. When going to the bar to request a soda, we would receive a cup that was about 5oz., when we requested a larger cup, we were refused each time. Because of the smaller size, we went thirsty the majority of the time. On the other hand, if I was to order liquor, the sky was the limit. You could have a helmet full of six beers at any given time, and the bar tenders and waiters were more then happy to help you if you weren’t just ordering a soda. I feel like the reason we were treated poorly by the wait staff because we did not order liquor and they felt like our business was not as important as those who ordered alcoholic beverages. Another major concern was that we could not use any of our personal items such as a hair-dryer, curling iron, or iron. We were provided a hair-dryer; however, our clothes needed to be ironed but there was no iron we could use on board unless we wanted to pay at least $5 per item. We were not informed of this prior to our trip; otherwise we would have made other arrangements for our garments, or taken items that did not need to be pressed. The food was also a major issue on board; we felt that the buffets were terrible! When we arrived at the dinning hall for dinner, all of the portions were children size, so we would leave hungry; therefore, leaving us no option but to pay to go to an optional restaurant on board. Part of the major advertising for your cruises is to bring your appetite because of the large buffets available with excellent food. This is a complete fabrication, because the items on board were not extraordinary, nor were we even close to being satisfied after leaving. I’m sure that was the intent of having such a terrible buffet, is to get passengers to go to those other restaurants and spend money. Unfortunately, that is the only place where we found that the food was even half-way enjoyable. There was no midnight buffets offered, not even on the last evening, only finger food in the casino, and a small café with little to offer. We were horribly disappointed and feel the cruise was misrepresented and did not deliver all that was promised to us.

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By Andy_CR

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Sep 18, 2004

Alaska

Andy Galles Embarkation: My wife and I made our own air travel accommodations opting not to purchase the air package through the cruise line. We arrived in Seattle around 2:00pm with the ship scheduled to leave at 4:30pm. In the baggage claim area of the airport we located and left our baggage with one of the cruise representatives. Being a police officer this always scares me leaving my bags with someone. We boarded the shuttle

bus after a short wait in the wind and rain. So far so good. The shuttle bus driver pointed out key landmarks (space needle) to us in transit, which was much nicer than a quiet ½ hour bus ride. Upon arriving at pier 66, we were given directions to the check in area of the ship. The Check in process was smooth and quick. We were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes. Just before getting on the ship we were stopped to get our photo taken with two characters from the ship, which both of us could have lived without. Very impressive to the rookie ship travelers! It appeared that you were in a five star hotel lobby. The decorating had a strong Asian theme that was different but nice. The signs on the ship pointed you clearly in the directions you needed to go. We felt that the layout was very passenger friendly. There are plenty of elevators to get you where you are going, but they were a bit slow at times. Our preference would have been totally smoke free. We visited the Galaxy of the Stars lounge on many occasions and found the smoke to be quite overwhelming at times. The ship was spotless everywhere and workers were seen constantly cleaning and polishing. Most all employees we had dealings with were efficient, courteous and helpful. My wife did take a fall down a few stairs while participating in one of the organized activities. One of the cruise directors staff told us in order for us to see an on board doctor we would have to pay the $100 fee. I protested because of the circumstances. We received a call in our cabin about a half hour later from the assistant cruise director telling us to go see the doctor at anytime and there would be no fee. This touch made us happy again. The doctor on the ship was not talkative at all and did not seem to care about my wife’s injury to her wrist. He gave her a brace and sent us on our way. Somewhat disappointing experience! Adrian the cruise director was hilarious and informative everyday in the theater! Yo Adrian! Cabin: The cabin was great. The size was fine. We would have liked more clothing storage. We had a balcony #9060. I would never cruise without one! The TV reception wasn’t the greatest but it was fine for the small amount of time we watched it. The onboard camera on the front of the ship was nice so you can see what is coming as far as scenery. The bathroom was decent sized for a ship. The shower was great! Water pressure and temperature control along with the handheld nozzle was great! We have a Tempurpedic mattress at home so the cabin mattress felt like a slab of concrete, but we still slept soundly at night. The cabin stewards were magnificent; Ana Marie and Kato took great care of our room and were extremely friendly! They did run out of those yummy mints for the pillows thoughL. Food: We ate at Raffles a few times including the chocoholic buffet night. The lines were a bit long and I found that they would only use one or two lines to get people through instead of the four-line capability of the restaurant. Seating was hard here also. We ate at Maxim’s three times! The cover to get in is more than worth what experience you get! Intimate and over the top service! The food was excellent and the service we received was even better! It was very easy to get and make your reservation to this restaurant! We also ate at Windows and the Garden on multiple occasions, having a great experience here also. The only complaint is the sometimes-long wait list to get in and dine when you wanted. We did have room service two times with pleasant experiences. The food selection on this menu is limited but all is good and the delivery time was no more than 20 minutes. Shows: We went to see most of the Broadway style shows. Neither one of us has been to many of these in the past, but for a ship out in the Pacific Ocean, I was impressed. They all last around 30-40 minutes. We also went to see the comedians Jeff Harms and a comedian juggler who were both hilarious! The shows in the in the Galaxy of the Stars were equally funny the only downside again was the heavy smoke allowed. We also played bingo every time it was offered, big mistake! Our final bill was OUCH! The odds are not in your favor of winning, the games played (only four per day) were easy and winners happened fast. I would only play the final day for the large progressive game in the future! Krak Its was also a big waste of money and they were pushed heavily throughout the cruise, which I thought was tacky. Ports of Call: Junea, Skagway and Ketchikan………rain and wind. All beautiful cities and plenty of shopping. Way too many jewelry stores in Ketchikan though. Most of the excursions were getting cancelled due to wind and rain, including whale watching. This was the last Alaska cruise of the year. The best shopping was Juneau. We didn’t get far into Tracy Arms due to the high volume of icebergs and ice build up. Still a cool site seeing adventure! Disembarkation: Smooth! We had a 2:00pm flight out of Seattle and we had to shuttle from Vancouver back to Seattle. The night before we got our tags and set our bags out to be collected. The next morning us and about 20 other people were the first off the ship. Customs was a breeze in Canada. They loaded our bags under the bus and off we went. The US customs were slow but understandable. When we arrived at Seattle, they unloaded our bags and we were two hours prior to our flight. Expenses: The onboard credit cards to pay for everything is nice, but word of warning, watch your spending because it adds up quickly over the week. We only purchased one pop sticker, as we don’t drink that much pop Packing tips: The freestyle dining is nice and the resort casual attire is even better. Don’t over pack clothes and make sure you leave plenty of space for things to be brought back. Don’t bring a hair dryer one is provided that works nicely. Curling irons are ok. Make double sure you have rain gear!!!! Also cameras with plenty of film and binoculars are a must! Also make sure to bring the Tums! Overall the best vacation I have ever been on! You are treated like a king from the moment you walk on the ship and there are no worries! We will definitely being cruising again soon and with NCL! [email protected]  .

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  • New

Sep 11, 2004

Alaska

Stewart Cohen I had a great time. The staff was incredible. Very friendly and accommodating. They really work their tails off, especially in Raffles and Blue Lagoon. The ship was immaculate too. They are making an extra effort to avoid Norovirus. Now if only passengers would too (one used his menu to cover his sneeze). Food was very good for the most part. Raffles for breakfast worked better for me than the dining room. Excellent

selection. And the desserts at lunch outshined the ones for dinner in the dining room. Some of my favorites were the chocolae and pecan torte, guava cheesecake and linzer torte. The barbecue out by the aft deck was a favorite too. Real charcoal grilling and more than just burgers and hotdogs. Dinners were the most inconsistant meals. Sometimes the menu was excellent from start to finish (most notably the President's Dinner and the Farewell Dinner). I also had a terrific dinner at Maxim's if it weren't for the drunken boors making a racket at the next table. The other alternative restauarant I tried was the Teppanyaki Room in the Shogun. I was the only diner that evening which in a way was sad but I had the full attention of the staff which made it a fun and personal experience. As for freestyle dining, I found it had its' advantages (dining where, when and with whom you chose) and its' disadvantages (waiting for a table). If it was handled like Princess where you can reserve a specific time it would be better IMHO. I was very happy with my cabin 11050 which is an outside with balcony. Very comfortable and the coffee maker came in handy, especially when I wanted to use the balcony and it was a bit chilly. I was able to brew herb teas and also make hot chocolate from the packets from the buffet. The balcony door can be locked in place so if you want a little air and ocean sound while you sleep that is possible. I suggest taking in the pads for the chairs when you aren't using the balcony. Not only is rain a threat at night but the window washers may also arrive unexpectedly and drench them. Inadequate drawer space is the only negative I found with the cabin. I did manage to find a place for everything but I was by myself after all. I did ask for a mattress pad and I had no problems with the bed and the duvet was very comfortable. In fact, the bed linens were the softest I've ever had on a cruise. The towel animals were fun. I liked the way they either held out the pillow chocolates or else the chocolates were used for eyes. There was one every night except the first. Richard and Gladys were my stewards and they were as nice as can be. For the most part, the ship's decor was beautiful. The artwork in the stairway landings was lovely and the use of mirrors gave them a spacious look. I liked the atrium very much. Lots of natural light from above. The best way to appreciate its decor is the view from the glass elevators. Speaking of which, I very rarely had to wait for an elevator. There seemed to be a lot of entertainment and activity options, although very little devoted to the Alaska experience. The emphasis was more on bingo, crackits and sales pitches. I attended one show in the Moulin Rouge which is the main theatre. No poles, so no obstructions and the seating is raked so the view of the stage was excellent. I found the shore excursion dept. to be run very well and I enjoyed the one shore excursion I booked with them (Taku Glacier Lodge and Flightseeing). I had booked a different excursion ahead but it was easy to return the ticket which was in my cabin upon my arrival and I had no problems with the price being removed from my onboard charge account. The ports of call were all good. I even liked Prince Rupert. I went to the Museum of Northern British Columbia which has a beautiful collection of First Nations arts and crafts and also attended a performance of stories and songs presented in the long house across the street from the museum. The town is presently working on upgrading the cruiseship terminal facilities and there was a bit of construction but nothing that really inconvenienced anyone. I had been to all of the other ports before but found new places to visit. I already mentioned my shore excursion to Taku Glacier Lodge which was out of Juneau. In Ketchikan I took a walk to the salmon hatchery, which was very interesting and also features 2 live bald eagles which were rescued and aren't able to be released. It's a great opportunity to take some up close photos of these magnificent birds. It's very difficult to get that close to an eagle in the wild. Most come out like white dots in snapshots. Across the creek from the hatchery is the Totem Heritage Center, which although was smaller than expected, does have a beautiful display of old, preserved totem poles. Also, outside there is a shed where a new totem pole was being carved and painted. The City Park is also right there which contains the ponds from the original fish hatchery. In Skagway I visited the National Parks Visitor Center and saw a film about women during the goldrush who mined their fortunes from the prospectors' trousers, if you know what I mean. Although the ship visited Tracy Arm which words can not do justice to, we had to turn around before arriving at Sawyer Glacier due to the amount of ice in the water. There was this enormous blue iceberg which looked as though it was saying to the captain, "Want a piece of me?" So we had to settle for the magnificent views of waterfalls, icebergs and hanging glaciers. As for sea life, there was a nice bit of it. The captain gave advance notice of where whales had been spotted on previous sailings, and there they were (this was after we left Ketchikan, at about 7 pm). Just before that I spotted one of the most incredible rainbows which I captured on film (actually digitally). Another exciting wildlife spotting was a huge group of dolphins while we were cruising through British Columbia. I actually saw this twice and someone told me that they saw this at a third location. At first I thought it was wavelets. Then I thought perhaps flying fish. But as they got close to the ship it turned out to be something like 30 or more dolphins. They got close enough to the ship to see while they were under water. The other location which took my breath away was after we left Skagway and passed the town of Haines on the Lynn Canal. There were beautiful snow capped mountains, hanging glaciers and on an island, one of the most beautiful lighthouses I've ever seen. I was a bit disappointed that our final day would not be cruising the Inside Passage but out in the Pacific instead. As it turned out, the seas calmed down by noon and we had a beautiful, sunny afternoon which I enjoyed from my balcony. Fortunately I had a starboard cabin so the sun was facing it. I ran upstairs to Raffles at 4pm to bring back some smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, whipped cream and strawberry jam for a nice al fresco afternoon tea. Was there anything I really disliked about the cruise? Just the tedious embarkation and the slow reboarding at the ports of call. You forget about those very quickly when you're having a good time and I wouldn't say it spoiled the cruise in any way.

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By Dana_CR

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Aug 21, 2004

Alaska

Dana Mudd Pre-cruise: We arrived the evening of Thursday, July 19. I had already made arrangements with Townepointe Limousine (http://www.townepointelimousine.com) to meet us at the airport and take us to our hotel. Greg, from the Townepointe was extremely helpful in arranging this service. Glen met us at Baggage Claim. If you do arrange for a car service, ask the driver to bring the car around while you are claiming your bags. Glen

waited to see how much luggage we had and then went to get the car. It seemed to take forever for him to come back to us! After being on a plane for 5 hours we were ready to go! He had lots of information about Seattle. He gave us a great map of the area. We had other maps but his turned out to be the best. The ride was going smoothly until we realized Glen had the wrong hotel-there are 2 Best Western Hotels within a block or so of each other. Not sure how this happened, I looked at my e-mail when I got home and I had sent the correct address. Oh well! We could see the right one so we just went around the block. No problem. We had really enjoyed the ride and the conversation with Glen. My sister-in-law made reservations through Priceline. Best way to go in my opinion. Hotel rates in the downtown Seattle area were outrageous! Best Western Executive Inn was the chosen hotel. When we arrived in our room, we realized immediately that it was smoking room and we had asked for a non-smoking room. We tried to get it changed but the hotel was full. Apparently, if you book through Priceline you basically get whatever is left. The staff was great though. We went to the lounge for dinner and they brought some kind of machine to the room that got rid of most of the smell. I am extremely allergic to cigarette smoke and never had a problem after the machine ran for about 30 minutes. The hotel was nice and clean. It was very convenient for the things that we wanted to see in Seattle. The restaurant had great food. There is a Laundromat down the street that we used on Saturday morning before we went to the pier so that we would start off with all clean clothes. Neither my sister-in-law or I are good with directions, needless to say we got lost but a helpful gentleman pointed us in the right direction and then showed us the new machines to use! Not sure of the name but it was next to the Five Points bar. The owner of the bar also owns the Laundromat. The hotel has a free shuttle that will take you to the airport. It starts running around 10:30 but you can call the front desk and they will take you earlier. I would advise doing this. We called around 9:30 and we had to wait for a group ahead of us. The ride is only 10 minutes or so. Seattle: It took us months to decide what to do with our day in Seattle. I e-mailed the chamber of commerce and got great information and coupon books. I contacted the transit system and received several route maps. After discovering the ride free zone would take us where we needed to go, we decided against renting a car. This was a great decision! We are from the Atlanta area and the bus system is not that great so we were a little apprehensive. The ride free bus area was wonderful! A little confusing as to what bus to take but we always found a helpful person to point us in the right direction. On Friday morning, we found the right bus to take us to Pike Market (www.pikeplacemarket.com). We had breakfast at the Athenian Inn. Great food at very affordable prices. The market was amazing! Beautiful flowers, produce, etc. I wanted to take all the flowers home with me. The prices were incredible. Biggest lobster tails I had ever seen at the stand next to our breakfast place. Of course, we had to go to Starbucks. That was a necessity for my brother-in-law. Then we headed over to the aquarium (www.seattleaquarium.org). We had coupons that were good for this attraction. $2 off adult admission. Really neat place. My daughter loved it! We were there for a couple of hours. Then we did some shopping around the downtown area. Our next stop was the Space Needle (www.spaceneedle.com). It took us a few minutes and a few wrong turns before we figured out what bus we needed to get us to that area. If the monorail was working that would have been what we needed. Oh well. This is the only time the bus went out of the ride free area but it only cost us $1.25. We had make reservations for 12:45 at Sky City. Yes, the lunch prices seem high but not if you consider the $13 price tag for the observation tower that we were going to do anyway. The observation Deck is included in your lunch price. Amazing view and the food was good too! Very relaxing and the view kept our 3 year old entertained. After lunch, we went back to our hotel, which was just across the street to drop off some things. On our way back we made reservations to Ride the Duck (www.ridetheducksofseattle.com). Their office is right across from the Space Needle. Reservations are recommended for this attraction. Then we headed back to Ride the Ducks. Our driver was Helen and she was a hoot! This was one of the highlights of our trip! We saw lots of downtown and we went into Lake Washington where we saw the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. I would highly recommend this tour! After our duck, we went back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the next day. Embarkation: When we arrived at the pier, there was a guy there with a cart to get all our luggage, we checked in with someone curbside and they directed us into the waiting area at the pier. It was about 10:15 and the check-in process would not start until 10:30. Everyone was told to wait downstairs until the gates opened upstairs. We had a stroller and my husband has a bad knee so we started looking for the elevator. It was around the corner to the right so we went ahead and took it upstairs. No one yelled at us so I guess it was ok! We were the first ones standing at the gate when it opened. One of our fellow cruisers was able to place us on the VIP list. We were literally the first one in line to register. They were handing out numbers to everyone else-not really sure what the numbers were for. We are also Latitudes members. Registration was painless and quick, then it was off to the VIP room. There were drinks and snacks available to us and a window with a great view of the Spirit. Also, a bathroom was close by. Someone from NCL came to get us around 11:30 and we were the first ones on the ship. AMAZING! The lobby looks as if it belongs in a luxury hotel. In fact, my daughter kept asking me when we were getting on the big boat! It does have a heavy Asian theme but it was beautiful. And I am not one for Asian décor! The decks were a bit confusing. By the end of the week, we had finally mastered the right elevators to get us to either Windows or the Garden Room. Casino was nice but smoky. My husband did get lucky there with the slot machines. Restrooms all over the ship which came in handy with our toddler. We liked going up to Galaxy of the Stars-great observation area. Also, you could go downstairs and view the Captain’s bridge. I was fascinated by this! The hot tubs were a busy place. My husband and brother-in-law used them one night. My daughter went to the kid’s pool once. It was nice! But the weather was a little too cool for us. The pools were heated. It was just the thought of getting out that bothered me! The ship is so amazingly clean. I literally someone scrubbing with a toothbrush! The staff everywhere from the restaurants to Kids Crew to deckhands were extremely nice. Although, we did think the staff at the reception desk was the least friendly. There was a gentleman there that was very nice but the ladies were not. They weren’t rude-just not very helpful. The camera shops staff was a lifesaver. My brother-in-law accidentally reformatted the disc for his digital camera. They were able to recover all his pictures. We also bought a few pictures. We had already booked all our shore excursions so we did not have much contact with this area. They did fix a price for me where my 3 year old had been charged an adult price. This was done very quickly. The seas were mostly calm. There night that we left Skagway was rough when we were in the Pacific Ocean. We had bought bio-bands and they worked. At least, I am assuming they did because we were never sick. Cabin: We had balcony cabins 10532 and 10536. They were adjoining cabins. We had to call the front desk when we arrived to have someone come and unlock the adjoining doors. The balconies did not join, this would have been nice. We used our balcony a lot. I can’t imagine cruising Alaska without one. Well worth the price. Our room stewards were Horace and Liwang. They were great! Always a clean room! We also had towel animals every night! They brought extra hangers and an egg crate for the bed to us on our first day. They were so cheerful and seemed to love what they were doing. The bed was hard but the egg crate did wonders. The duvet cover was so warm and comfy. I have now purchased one for our bed at home! I think the bed was supposed to be a queen but it felt bigger than a queen to me but not as big as a king. 10536 was the cabin designated for 3 or more persons. The small couch folded out to a bed for our daughter. It was good for her but I think an adult would be uncomfortable. I had to lay down with her the first night and it felt like what it was-a sofa bed! It would be fine for small children. The adjoining room was the same except that it had a chair and a floor lamp. It also appeared that the chair folded out as well. No refrigerators! I really missed not having one. My daughter loves milk first thing in the morning so we would have to hurry and get her some from the buffet. On the Sun, I would fill her cup up the night before and have it there when we needed it the next morning. Don’t know where they would put one. The closet had plenty of hanging spaces and some shelves-but they were in the corner and not very user friendly. There were 4 small drawers in the cabin. I could have used more shelves for jeans, fleeces, etc. My daughters clothes were a problem They don’t fit on adult hangers and there were not enough shelves or drawers for them, so I left them in the suitcase and laid it on its side in the closet and just took out what I needed each day. Luggage fit under the bed except for one piece we just had to leave behind the drape. We could have given it to the steward but it really wasn’t in the way. We did not need a nightlight. We left the light on in the bathroom and then cracked the door. We did take a stick up for the bathroom to help with any odors. The shower was awesome! Sliding glass door and great water pressure. Best ship shower ever! Bathroom had plenty of storage room. A lot of people take the over the door shoe hangers but we didn’t need one. I had packed mostly travel size bottles and they all fit nicely and there was a large shelf under the sink that held a lot. The drapes were heavy and kept the room dark in the mornings. Bring a travel alarm clock as the only clock is on the phone or on the ship’s TV channel. My husband watched a lot of TV. They do get TNT for all you race fans. They were playing some good movies on the movie channel as well. Food: We ate at both the main restaurants, the Blue Lagoon, Bier Garten and Raffles. The food was incredible-I now have 5 pounds to lose. We eat out a lot so we are good judges of restaurant type food. Raffles was always our quick breakfast place before excursions. We loved the hamburgers and the rice at the 24 hour Blue Lagoon and they would wrap stuff up for us to take back to our room. We had lunch at Windows almost everyday. We ate at the Garden Room once for dinner and then at Windows 3 times for dinner. The other nights we went to the Buffet. We would always look at the menu earlier during the day to decide where we wanted to eat. The first night we just did the buffet because it was easy and we were tired. The other nights we didn’t care for the menu. There was always something at Raffles that we liked. They seemed to have solved the earlier issue with keeping the food warm because we did not have a problem. There were occasional waits to find a table in Raffles for breakfast. Other times we had no problem. We never waited longer than 20 minutes for dinner. Try doing that at a mainland restaurant on a busy night. 7-8 seemed to be the busiest time. We prefer early dinners but Kid’s Crew did not open until 7. We learned that if we went to dinner at 6:30 the wait time was shorter and then I just took our daughter to Kid’s Crew at 7. Some servers were better than others. Candinodo (sp?) from the Philippines was wonderful-kept my daughter entertained during our first lunch onboard. One night we did not get the iced tea we requested. We could have asked again but we were fine with the water. Not a big deal in the big scheme of life. Sometimes you just have to let things go! There was a waitress in the Garden Room that for some reason did not like us and was not very friendly but she was efficient. The evening we were sailing Sawyer Glacier we did not want to miss the view or change out of our fleece! So, we went down to the Garden room and ordered off the menu and then room service brought it to us. That was really nice! We weren’t sure they would do it but we thought we would try! We had a soda card and The Bund on Deck 7 was where we got most of our drinks. The soda card was well worth the price for us. I am a soda fanatic. No problems getting soda at lunch or dinner either-even in Raffles. The chocolate buffet was amazing too! My favorite was the fruit fondue. Yummy! It was served around the pool area the day we sailed Sawyer Glacier so we didn’t miss out on the view. Dress code was relaxed. We were told that jeans were acceptable in the dining rooms as long as they were not torn. This was great. We didn’t wear most of the dinner clothes that we brought. I usually wore black pants and a nice shirt and my husband wore dockers. Some days we didn’t even have to change for dinner because what we were for the day was acceptable. Wish I had known that before I packed. Not sure if the other ships are following this dress code or not. Room Service was always prompt and correct. Love this! The food was always great. Shows: The only show we saw was Jane Powell and she was great! At the beginning it was slow and we were wondering if we had made a mistake but then it picked up! We were so glad we stayed. So, if you go be patient-the best is yet to come! Ports of call: Ketchikan We went to the Tongass Trading Company so my husband could get a new pair of sneakers. They had a huge variety of things-even a hardware store! We then went to the rain gauge to meet Jarred from Island Wings for our Misty Fjords flight seeing trip. This was the first excursion that we have ever done independently and things went very smoothly. The trip was fantastic! Amazing scenery. Michelle’s plane was the cleanest plane that I have ever seen. We had a party of 5 and we were joined by another couple. Plenty of room. Michelle was good about pointing out things of interest along our journey. We landed on a lake and walked around the beach for a while. We saw bear tracks! I had read tons of information on cruise trip regarding this excursion and that is why I booked and because they did not charge for my 3 year old because she sat in the middle and did not have a window seat. Was she personality/tourguide extraordinaire? Not really, maybe I expected something different given the rave reviews. But who can argue with the trip itself-so amazingly beautiful. By the way, we though it would be chilly on the plane-think again! Don’t bundle up too much or you will get hot. We still had time to explore when our flight was over, so we went to a few souvenir shops and stopped at a restaurant to have some appetizers. Then it was back on board. We docked when we arrived in Ketchikan but had to tender back to the ship. One of the staff captains was standing near us and he was so nice! We talked a few minutes about weather in the ports to come and the cruise in general. We had excellent weather in Ketchikan. Juneau/Sawyer Glacier Another beautiful weather day. We did the Mendenhall Glacier/ Wildlife Quest through NCL. This excursion is ran by Allen Marine Tours (www.allenmarinetours.com) We wanted to see the Glacier and go whale watching and this was the only excursion we could find that did both. Time is tight in Juneau-wish there had been more time. This excursion was breathtaking. We saw eagles, seals, sea lions, whales. We had thought about doing the Tracey Arm Excursion but didn’t want to really spend another 5 hours on an excursion. In hindsight we should have since the ship could not get really close to Sawyer Glacier. Because of the 90 degree temperatures this summer, lots of ice is melting and breaking away so it was not safe for the ship to go any closer. But it was still neat to be in the water with icebergs everywhere! Beautiful scenery, waterfalls and majestic mountains. By the way, some people are negative about the ships excursions saying they are overcrowded, etc. We had 53 people on this tour. Not crowded at all! This is the tour you will need your warm clothes for! It was very comfortable down below but up top was windy and cool. Bring gloves, hat and scarf for this excursion. Skagway We did the Best of Skagway tour. Again through NCL and there were only 22 people on this excursion. It started with a bus ride up through Skagway and into Canada. We stopped several times for photo ops. Beautiful scenery! We then too the White Pass Railway back down to Skagway. This simply can’t be missed. We really enjoyed this. Beautiful waterfalls, etc and a great narrator to point out sites along the way. Back in Skagway we again boarded the bus for our Salmon Bake and tour of Liarsville. Ok, I must confess that none of the 4 of us like Salmon but we thought we had to try it in Alaska to see if it was different. Well, I am sure it was wonderful but not to us. Although my 3 year old loved it! The side dishes were great and they had hot cider and cookies! We are just not fish people. Liarsville show was entertaining and then we panned for gold. Not actual panning since the gold rush actually occurred 600 miles to the north. But it was fun. Then back on the bus to the Red Onion Saloon for a tour of the brothel. Interesting. We then had some time to shop before going back on board. We found several interesting souvenirs at the White Pass Railroad store. The train at least one way is a must but not sure the other things were a must. Another beautiful weather day! The train was a little chilly though so bring a jacket. Prince Rupert: We would have done the Bear Sanctuary if it was still in season but it wasn’t and none of the other tours looked interesting. So we just got off the ship to explore on our own. I needed to make a stop at Safeway and when I came out it was raining so we just went back to the ship. There really didn’t seem to be anything of interest anywhere. Wish we could have gone to Victoria instead. Oh well. We had a relaxing day onboard. Might be a good stop if you are on a 10 or more day cruise but with only 4 ports, I would have preferred a port with more to offer. **Note: The tour guides that are used on the NCL excursions seemed to be mostly college students from Washington State. They were great! What a fun way to earn money for school. So, don’t forget to tip them if you have a good tour! Kid’s Crew: Fantastic! Love the sea days when they are open almost all day! My daughter cried when we left and woke up every morning begging to go play with her friends. She is 3 so she was in the 2-5 group. I am a stay at home mom so she is not used to daycare. But she adapted very quickly. The counselors were great and the activities seemed to be well planned. The whole area seemed to be well organized-staff seemed to be mostly from Canada. We did buy the backpack and the soda card was worth the money! Although next time I will ask for a sticker instead of the band-it was hard to keep track of! I wish that they would open earlier in the evening though-we like to eat at 5 or so but had to wait until 7 for Kid’s crew to open so that we would have a more enjoyable dinner. The last night the kids had a pajama party and dinner. The dinner was in a sectioned off part of Raffle-again well planned. Everyone on board was so nice to out toddler, always a pleasant smile for her. From the passengers too! There were a lot of older passengers onboard and I think they missed their grandkids! Disembarkation: We needed earlier color tags so we went to the reception desk and got these without a problem. We had breakfast and were off the ship by 9:30. Went through customs and then retrieved our luggage. All of it was mostly together. Very quick. Transportation to airport: Again, set up through Townepointe Limousine. We called as soon as we were off the ship and they sent a limo over. We were earlier than expected because things had gone so smoothly. We did have to wait a few minutes but the weather was beautiful and we were better off outside that at the airport anyway. Tyler soon arrived and had us on our way. Checked baggage at curbside and then went to security. We did have to wait in a long line so I would not push it close with departure times. We ate lunch at the airport and then boarded our plane for our long journey home. Expenses: Yes, tours are pricey but you get what you pay for. I wouldn’t change any of ours. Except maybe adding the Tracy Arm Excursion. We booked through an online travel agency back in February so we had a few months to pay off the cruise. We booked our own airfare. Also, so that we would not be left with a huge bill after the cruise, throughout the year I purchased traveler’s checks to pay for our onboard account. We set it up with a credit card during check in but on the last sea day went to reception and paid the balance in full with traveler’s checks. Now I will not have a big credit card bill next month! The soda band really worked for us. We purchased water at our first port stop. Bought some souvenirs but didn’t go wild. Didn’t have the luggage room for a lot anyway! For those of you with kids all of the above excursions were perfect for our 3 year old. She is a great traveler and I do believe that every child is different. Some people suggest that you don’t do long tours with toddlers but ours has always done fine. Of course, she will sleep anywhere! The umbrella stroller is a must anything larger would be really cumbersome. I have a packing list for toddlers if anyone is interested. She is potty trained now so life is easier. We just took some of her favorite snacks, juice boxes and every medicine known to man and we were well prepared. Pack comfy clothes for playing on board. We didn’t pack any toys just some coloring books for the plane. She was easily entertained. There is a child lock on the balcony and we had the talk about not standing in furniture, etc. We had no problems. If you have a climber you may want to have the furniture removed from the balcony. She was never out there without us. The kids menu was great and they would always bring it right out to her. We did room service a lot before going to Kid’s crew and also for PB and Js for shore excursions. Just be aware that the doors are very heavy. We had smashed fingers on the first day! We also brought our portable DVD player. This was useful on the plane and on the ship. Packing tips: Leave the hair dryer at home. It will not work on the Spirit. You are limited to 500 watts. The hair dryer on board was fine. Take a power strip. You will need it. Most of the things we plugged in were small wattage-cell phone charger, DVD charger, curling iron, etc. By the way, we didn’t use our cell phones the entire time. Not sure if we would have had coverage with Verizon. We just wanted to escape everyone for a week! Our family had the emergency number on the ship if they needed us. Now for clothes. We had 5 suitcases for the 3 of us. Remember this summer was unusual for Alaska-it was very warm. They had 90 degree temps earlier in the summer. So, my husband packed mainly jeans and a mixture of short/long sleeve shirts, a few pairs of shorts and several fleece pullovers. I packed 3 pairs of jeans, 2 docker type pants, 2 thin stripe cords and a mixture of long/short sleeve shirts with things that I could pull over these shirts. Fleece, lightweight sweaters, long sleeve shirts. I did take a few shorts but I never wore them. I was cold on the ship most of the time. Layering was the key. We used just about everything we packed except for our dinner clothes. For dinner I had packed mostly Chico’s travelers collection. If you are not familiar with their clothes you should be! Great travel clothes. I only wore one outfit though. When I was packing I took a pair of pants and then paired it with a short sleeve top, long sleeve top and then a pullover of some sort. I also packed a light weight jacket and a medium jacket. Same for husband and daughter. For my daughter’s clothes, I packed things that would be worn in spring/fall. Long sleeve shirts with leggings or short sleeve shirts with sweaters and pants-both jeans and cotton pants. Gymboree outfits with the matching shirt/sweater/pants were perfect. I had packed some things for dinner that were never worn. She is the one I over packed for but you never know with a toddler. I should have left the dressier things and brought more casual. Of course we packed gloves, scarves, etc. These were needed on the balcony as we cruised Sawyer Glacier and on the whale watching trip. They did not offer the $20 bag of laundry deal as they offer on several other ships. This would have been nice. I hate coming home with dirty clothes! All in all a wonderful cruise and we are all ready to go again. I wish that NCL sailed the Greek Isles-that is our cruise for next year. So I guess we will try another cruise line. At least it will give us something to compare with NCL. We love the Freestyle concept-it is the main reason we started cruising. I would like to do the Southern Caribbean cruise on the Spirit. Maybe in a year or so. We would also like to do a cruise that goes farther north in Alaska. Next year NCL will be offering various Alaska itineraries. We love NCL and have never had any problems with customer service. I have called a few times and had great service every time. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] .  

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Jul 24, 2004

Alaska

This was a vacation of a lifetime!! This is my first cruise, so I did not know what to expect. I was so pleased with our overall cruise experience. The staff was so friendly and bent over backwards to try to please you. Our room stewards were friendly, visiting our room twice daily for cleaning then in the evening to turn down your bed and leave a chocolate. I traveled with my husband and two children. A 2 1/2 year and a 4

1/2 year. Now before you wonder what got into me for taking two pre-schoolers, it turned out to be a very positive experience. There was planned childrens activities. I could even leave the little angels in daycare. There was a beautiful play area, and beautiful childrens pool. When I asked my 4 1/2 YO what his favorite part of the cruise was, he answered the kids pool! Our inside room was small, but then there were 4 of us in the room. We basically just slept and bathed there, then we were off for adventures. Next time I would want a window. The Alaskan cruise through the inside passage is so pretty you don't want to miss anything. I was a little batty about never seeing daylight in my room. Embarktion was a long process with 2 tired cranky children. Lots of lines, lots of people. And we were early to boot. YUK. Our shore excursions were fun: Juneau: Whale watching cruise. We saw a pod of 6 whales "bubble" feeding. The staff on our tour said we were especially lucky to see this. We watched for a good long time as the whales repeatedly surfaced and dove with a beautiful flash of tail. It brought tears to my eyes. I was glad the deck was windy or my hubby would have teased me for choking up! :) Ketchikan: Went to Totem Pole State Park. Our guide was full of knowledge about the indiginous people of the area. Unfortunely, this was lost on my 2 little guys and they were very fidgity. Cool totem poles. Saw eagles and salmon in the rivers. Skagway: Took the narrow gauge railway up about 27 miles. VERY beautiful scenery. I split from the rest and took a bike ride back down, while they took the train. Easy bike ride, all down hill! Prince Rupert: Not too much going on here. A blue collar city of 15,000. Not set up for cruise ships. We took no excursions but just planned on walking around. Not anything going on. Food on the ship was fantastic. I loved the "freestyle" eating. Took advantage of their free child care a couple nights so the hubby and I could have a relaxing dinner. One of my favorite parts of the cruise was our trip on the cruise ship toward Sawyer glacier via Tracy Arm fjord. I CANNOT DESCRIBE THE BEAUTY OF THIS PLACE. We even got to see a little seal sitting on an ice floe. Chocolate buffet. Need I say more? I cannot wait until my next cruise!!

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Jul 3, 2004

Alaska

NORWEGIAN SPIRIT 7/03/04 TO 7/10/04 We had a great cruise on the Spirit. Here’s our review: Embarkation – Went very smoothly. We arrived at the parking garage across the street from the terminal about 11:15 and by 12:10 we were having lunch at Windows after dropping off our carry-on stuff in our stateroom. There were no lines to speak of for check-in but we got there before they started loading the ship so we had to wait about ½

hour before loading began. Our room steward was just finishing up with the room so we asked him for some type of pad (eggcrate foam or whatever) to soften the hard mattress. By late afternoon, it had been taken care of and we enjoyed a comfortable bed all week. The weather was beautiful in Seattle and it got a little warm for our “lifeboat drill” at 4:00. As we pulled away from the dock around 4:45, a fireboat serenaded us with a water show which was enjoyed by all. Day at Sea – Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day at sea with temperatures in the mid-60’s. It was a scenic day while cruising the inside passage – we took over 50 pictures that day alone. Ketchikan – We pulled into Ketchikan about 6:00 on rainy Monday morning. It rained the whole time we were there (over 2” of rain that day) and the temperatures were in the mid-50’s. We got right off the ship (no lines) about 8:00 for our excursion (Totem Bight & Ketchikan City tour). After we got back from our excursion, we walked to Creek Street and around town. Getting back on the Spirit around 1:30 was no problem at all – we just walked back on. Juneau – We arrived in Juneau quite early, around 5 in the morning. There was a very low cloud ceiling and it was “misting” out (light rain) and again the temperatures were in the 50’s. We didn’t book any excursions in Juneau and had planned to go up the Mt. Roberts Tram, but it was so cloudy out and the visibility was so bad, we decided it wasn’t worth it. So, we set off walking to explore Juneau – we went to the Alaska State Museum which is quite nice. Again there were no problems or lines in getting off or back on the Spirit. We did dock quite a ways from downtown, but the shuttle busses were there to take you back and forth so that was no big deal. Tracy Arm & Sawyer Glacier – We left Juneau promptly at 2:00 and entered Tracy Arm Fjord around 4:30 and were at Sawyer Glacier about 5:45. It was cloudy (at least it wasn’t raining), so we didn’t get to see some of the magnificent colors that abound when the sun is out. We viewed the entire event from our balcony (Deck 9, starboard side) and had a fabulous view and could keep popping back into our nice warm stateroom when we got too cold (and it was cold). There were a lot of icebergs so we didn’t think we were going to be able to get very close, but we did – I kind of felt like I was on the “Titanic” hitting all the icebergs we did, but we got quite close to the glacier (didn’t get to see or hear any calving, though). There were hundreds of seals (a lot of babies) lying on the icebergs. Skagway – By 4:30 in the morning we were docked in Skagway. We saw the NCL Star dock right beside us around 5:30. It was quite cool early in the morning (about 48) but warmed up to the low 70’s in the early afternoon. We also watched the Coral Princess, Serenade of the Seas, and the Spirit of Endeavour dock nearby. We got off the ship about 7:45 (again no lines or problems) for our first excursion (Klondike Dredge & Gold Panning, which was really a lot of fun). After we got back from that excursion we walked around a “packed” Skagway (too many ships in port), going back to the Spirit for lunch and a little rest before our afternoon excursion (Skagway Street Car, which we also enjoyed). Both of these excursions give you a good background of the history of the area which we liked. We did some more walking around town until around 4:00 when we got back on the Spirit (again no lines or problems). That night after leaving Skagway, the waters were a little rough causing a few passengers to get seasick. Prince Rupert - We arrived at our last port of call about 2:00. It was mostly sunny in PR with temperatures in the low 60’s. Hoping to get acquainted with the city and its history, we had signed up for the City Tour. We were somewhat disappointed because the tour guide just read a script “word for word” and gave a lot of boring information. We know PR is new to the cruising industry and hasn’t had much experience yet, so we need to give them some time. This is a good place for a self-guided walking tour. They have a great museum just up the hill from where the Spirit docks with all kinds of information on the area. Day at Sea – Finally a day to sleep in since we had been getting up around 4:00 each morning to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and scenery. We cruised on the west side of Vancouver Island so there were really not many sights to photograph. Luckily the waters were quite calm and the weather was nice enough to enjoy the outdoor barbecue. It was a day of meetings (debarkation talk), demos (ice carving and towel folding) and shows (crew show, passenger talent show, Jane L. Powell). Debarkation - We arrived in Seattle around 5:45 right behind the Diamond Princess. We had a nice breakfast in Windows, then went back to our stateroom to watch the unloading (and preparations for reloading) of the ship. The first group of passengers (those with flights before noon) debarked at 7:55, and about every 15 minutes they would announce the next group. Our group (Deck 9) debarked at 9:10, walking right off the ship, right through immigration, picked up our luggage (had trouble finding one of our bags because it was put with Deck 8) and walked right through customs with no problems. Dining – We usually got a light early morning breakfast (between 6 & 7) via room service – coffee, milk, juice, fresh fruit, a muffin or Danish. You fill out the little card and put it on the outside of your stateroom door the night before, indicating what time you want it delivered. They were always prompt, in fact, usually about 15 minutes before the time we had indicated on the card. Later on in the morning we would either go up to Raffles Buffet or Windows for a nice breakfast. Both were good (Windows a little better, though) and we never had a wait at either. We had lunch at Blue Lagoon once, which was pretty crowded around noontime but service was still pretty fast (soup and fried rice were pretty good). Several times we went to the Raffles Terrace barbecue – that was always good and usually no line (except hard finding a table on the nice days). We also had lunch at Windows several times, probably the best place for lunch, and we never had a wait there. We had dinner at Windows, Garden Room, Raffles Buffet and Maxim’s. We were rather disappointed with our $50 dinner at Maxim’s – our waiter was busy with a large party and pretty much ignored us and the meal was not much better than what we had at Windows. We normally ate rather early (between 5:30 and 6:30) and never had a wait anywhere but when we left after dinner at Windows or the Garden Room, there usually was quite a long line of people waiting for tables. The buffet was better than we had expected and the desserts there were really good and we always had an excellent meal at Windows or the Garden Room. Our only complaint with dining was the “background” music in the restaurants was pretty loud and sometimes annoying. Also, they needed faster clearing of tables both at Raffles Buffet and Raffles Terrace – it was difficult finding a table at times. A recommendation for dining is that you be willing to share a table with fellow cruisers. You get to meet a lot of people that way and it helps speed up the dining for later arrivals. It seem ed like most of the tables for 4 in Windows, had 2 people sitting at them while there was a line of people waiting. Cabin – We were very happy with our balcony cabin (the only way to go on an Alaska cruise because the scenery is never-ending). Our room steward did a great job and kept our ice bucket full and replenished our towels as needed. Storage space was pretty good – there were about 4 shelves on the side of the closet and another shelf on the bottom for shoes and there were 4 small drawers under the TV area. Our largest suitcase would not fit under the bed but there was plenty of room in the closet for it. Also there were 4 shelves in the bathroom on either side of the mirror. The bathroom was a good size (a lot bigger than the Sky had) with a separate toilet area (very tiny with a frosted glass door) on one side and the shower (very good size) with a glass door on the other side. There were only about 10 hangers in the closet so you might need to ask for more or bring some of your own. Entertainment & Activities – We weren’t much into the activities and entertainment as we wanted to be outside on deck or on our balcony as much as we possibly could. We did see some shows (Great Adventure Showtime, Night on the Town, Jane L. Powell, and our favorite was the comedian, Bud Anderson). There were all kinds of activities – just check your Freestyle Daily every evening when you get it for the next day’s activities – bring a highlighter pen so you can mark your choices! One thing we did enjoy was the viewing area for the bridge of the ship. The curtain is not open very often or for very long, but if you check the Daily you can find out when viewing is available (noon to 2 on embarkation day and then usually only when in port from about 11 to 1). Complaints - Our main complaint was that the cruise was over way too soon! No, seriously, we really don’t have much in the way of complaints – nothing is 100% perfect and you should expect a few problems. We would have liked to have the Spirit cruise on the east side of Vancouver Island (southbound direction) instead of on the west side as there is nothing to see but the ocean, and the inside passage is so beautiful and full of wondrous sights that you can’t get enough of them! So, we’re ready to cruise once again to Alaska – just want to find a ship that cruises the “true” inside passage the whole trip. Norwegian Spirit –On Channel 3 on the television in your stateroom you get a “Report from the Bridge” every 15 minutes (miles traveled, miles to next port, miles from last port, current temperature, sea conditions, wind conditions, exact location, etc.) and then between those updates there was a continuous map showing the route you were on and the Spirit’s location. In fact we got a map of the inside passage and attached it to the wall in our stateroom (the wall had a vinyl covering) and marked our route as we sailed along. The Spirit is a beautiful ship with a fabulous crew who do their best to serve you well – everyone was friendly and took time to converse with you if you were interested – we found the staff in both of the main restaurants (Windows and Garden Room) to be attentive and, in fact, outstanding. It appears the crew of the Spirit has made great advances from the first few cruises making this a great choice for your Alaska adventure!  

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Dec 18, 2003

Southern Caribbean

NCL Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review Southern Caribbean Lynda Eldridge My husband and I were looking forward to a relaxing Christmas cruise. We had sailed on Royal Caribbean and Princess previously. The Asian decor of this ship was truly beautiful and we were quite impressed with the size of the bathrooms. The shower door (instead of shower curtain) and a separate toilet area allowing a little more privacy was a welcome alternative to

the other cruise cabins we had experienced. We will probably not sail with NCL in the future for the following reasons. Our biggest disappointment was the number of children on board this cruise. We heard there were upwards of 600 kids on board. Although they had access to their own Wet and Wild Pool area, there were very few children swimming in it in all of 12 days of the cruise. Children, and teenagers swam in the only adult, albeit small pool, monopolizing all 4 hot tubs as well. Children were everywhere. It was impossible to avoid bumping into strollers, teenagers hanging out on stairways and deck hallways. We had a beautifully presented and delicious meal in one of their specialty restaurants, "Cagney's". The meals in their other main dining rooms were good, but we enjoyed better food on Princess. The buffet area, "Raffles", seemed disorganized and tasted mediocre, at best. We were warned not to expect great choices here and it lived up to our expectations. We were also advised to ask for an additional comforter to soften the mattress in the staterooms. We did, but it didn't seem to help much. The entertainment throughout the cruise lacked the quality of the productions we had experienced on our other cruises. Toward the end of the cruise, we weren't even bothering to attend the so-called production numbers. Of the ports visited, St. Thomas, Barbados, Antiqua and Tortola were our favorites. The beaches in Barbados and Antigua were absolutely crystal blue watered with soft light colored sand. Grenada was still reeling from the effects of hurricane Ivan with many of the homes still abandoned and in ruins. It was Christmas Day in Dominica, with many of the port shops closed. We spent the morning wandering just taking in the sites at the port. Many, if not all of the buildings were run down and in disrepair. The two and a half days at sea at the beginning and end of our cruise were not as enjoyable as we had hoped, due in part to the number of kids on board and the rough seas on our return to New York. In the future, we will seek out more adult style cruises.

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By Lori_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Overall, I would say that this cruise was just okay. We have only sailed on Princess before, and based on hype and other comparisons, expected NCL to be similar. I had even greater hopes because I had read that the Spirit is not as gawdy as normal NCL ships because it was not really built for them. I was leary of the small scale furniture, however. I even bought a Cruise Rewards voucher from them for a future NCL cruise, I was so convinced that

we would love this cruise. I was wrong, and plan to use their 30 day guarantee to return the voucher. The two biggest problems with the Spirit is the food and the lack of things to do. I even asked the front desk if and when they would have dance classes (I thought that this was a staple on cruise ships. I was wrong.) The reception host took down our cabin number and told me she would get back to me. She never did. There were no ice carving demonstrations, no galley tours, no nothing. There was an occassional trivia contest, but that was it. If you are not a sun worshipper, then you better bring a book to read. We spent a TON of time in our cabin watching the 13" TV. My son must have spent 15 hours at the basketball court because he was bored. My husband's biggest peeve was that the crew members didn't know what was going on. If he asked someone a question, they had to go ask someone else. You often got several different answers for the same question, depending on who you asked. The food was very dissappointing. The breakfast in the Raffles Court on 12 was actually very good, as long as you got fresh-cooked eggs at one of the 3 stations. And all the breads on board are very good, particularly the pecan sticky buns in the morning. Their desserts, however, SUCK. Probably why I didn't gain any weight this cruise. Almost everything has a gelatine base to it (coconut cream pie tasted like jello!) The souflees in the main dining rooms tasted like hot marshmellows. And they were the tiniest things I have ever seen. My husband's creme brulee was excellent, however. The lunch is the worst meal of the day. They can't make a pizza to save their lives, and the grill around to pool is often closed. The dinner in the buffet does give you a lot of choices, but the quality is just so-so. I think they do this so they can charge you more at the specialty restaurants on board. We only went to one, La Trattoria, and what a joke. They curtain off part of the buffet and call it an Italian restaurant. Quality of the Italian food was about equal to Chef Boyardee. The Garden and Windows are the 2 "free" dining rooms. You are supposed to be better dressed in Windows, but we saw people in shorts and t-shirts in there in the evening! The main difference between The Garden and Windows is that Windows is huge, and the service in Windows is MUCH better. We were in an outside cabin, no balcony, with a 3rd bed on 8 forward. We loved the location of the stateroom because it was so close to the main lobbies. The room was pretty good. The bathroom was better than I expected, with a separate "room" for the toilet, vanity, and a glass shower that was a good size (about 26" x 40"). They don't give you individual soaps and shampoos. There is a wall mounted dispenser on the wall for soap over the sink, and shampoo and shower gel in the shower. It is Elemis brand, so it is very good. No conditioner, though. The hair dryer is attached to the wall over the sink, and it takes a long while to dry thick hair. But it is better than hauling your own. The beds are normal size (I was worried because this ship was built for the Asian market, and the lounge furniture is TINY) and fairly hard. I thought they were great. Our exterior cabin had a 3rd bed that folded down from the wall, and the ceilings were so low in the cabin (about 7'-3" ceiling height) that you could not sit on the lower or upper bed when it was down. The TV is a TINY 13" and there is no reason, since there is plenty of room for a bigger one. This is our BIGGEST complaint. Very few activities. We were pretty bored. We spent a few hours in the card room playing with delapidated cards, we went to a few trivia contests. I was constantly looking at the Freestyle Daily looking for something to do, but there wasn't much. My son and I actually got SCUBA certified because of this cruise. We took 2 dive excursions, booked through the ship. If you dive, book the excursion through the ship. No telling when you will actually arrive, and most dive shop trips will leave too early anyway. Surprisingly, the cost from the ship was reasonable, and at least you don't have to worry about getting back in time. Cozumel is just incredible for diving, and Costa Maya doesn't really have much else to do anyway. We went cave tubing in Belize. Someone died on a Carnival cave tubing excursion in Sept 08 because the rainy season had left the river going through the caves too high and swift and Carnival did not cancel the excursion. Ship excursions don't provide enough guides for the amount of people for this excursion, and cost twice as much as booking it independently. The independent guide we booked could not have been more careful or courteous. If you want an experience of a lifetime and can hike 4+ miles over river rocks, do this excursion. My husband and son loved it. My feet hated it. This cruise left from New Orleans and sailed to Costa Maya, Guatamala, Belize, and Cozumel. The weather could not have been more perfect. Boarding in New Orleans was smooth and fast (we were on by 11:30) and we had high expectations. We had great excursions lined up, which were great. But the time we were on board was boring and just plain dissappointing. Things that I thought were staples of the cruise industry, like dance classes and lobster night, were non-existant. They had plenty of martini tastings, wine tastings, margarita tastings, and mojito tastings, at $15 each. The informality of the ship was even too informal for us, and we are from Texas! They are constantly telling you to do what you want, this is Freestyle cruising. Only problem is, there is nothing to do.

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Nov 30, -0001

Caribbean

AMAZING EXPERIENCE! I've sailed on most all other cruiselines including NCL before. I was not that impressed with NCL in the past. However, this cruise was amazing. The ship was spotless and the staff could not have been any nicer. The food was VERY good, and lots of it. You never had to wait much in line for food as you may at buffets on other cruiselines. In fact, for breakfast they had 4 omlete stations set up to move people thru. I was

in an Outside state room. We had plenty of room and the bed was very comforatble. I liked most, that in the bathroom the shower had a sliding glass door instead of those nasty shower curtains that stick to you while in the shower. In addition, the toliet was seperated by another glass door. The shower was much bigger and deeper than other showers I've been in. I like the fact that they have activities going on all day long, but they aren't coming on the PA every 10 minutes telling you to hurry up and get to bingo, or a show or whatever was going on. It was on your paper if you wanted to know what was going on, but they weren't trying to hurry you up with PA's. Was not impressed with the resort in Guatemala. The resort was nice but the beach was dirty with lots of trash, and the water was brown. I've sailed NCL 2 other times and it was OK, but I had placed them towards the bottom of my list for other cruises. I've sailed on Princess and others, and they were nice, but this last trip on the NCL Spirit was the BEST. I've never been on a cruise that when you walk onboard at embarkation, they hand you a glass of champagne in a REAL FLUTE. Very nice touch. The ship was in great shape and cleaner than any ship I've ever been on.

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By Rich_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Mexican Caribbean

We were traveling with family: six adults, five children ages 9 through 15 and all had an excellent time. This was a very enjoyable cruise overall. Our biggest complaint was the staff. Specifics are below, but food service, bar and lounge staff members apparently had little interest in serving customers on NCL cruises. They were reluctant, slow to replace empty drinks, reluctant with non-alcoholic drink requests, uncreative and unwilling to step outside

the box NCL has clearly forced them into. The food was very good. I have always had a problem with the fact that cruise food is little more than glorified hotel banquet food, however such prejudgment was not substantiated by our experience. While none of our meals could compare with our finest shore-based dining experiences, the food generally exceeded expectations. The staterooms are dated and a bit worn. The decor was completely unappealing. It's hard to believe the Spirit is only 10 years old! The whole stateroom areas could stand some serious face lifts. Our stateroom head (bathroom) was completely tiled in 2" tiles with cartoonish sea creature motifs. It felt like we were stuck in an drained kiddie pool from the '80's. Hardly a romantic environment. Family friendly? Maybe too much so. The beds and pillows were passable. Everything could have been cleaned a little more to maximize comfort. If typical cruising oddities such as casino and bingo are your desire, you'll be satisfied. If you're looking for more, look elsewhere. We heard some deplorable Asian crew member renditions of classic lounge music. The Asian staff musicians were lacking in appeal (Slangers in the Night, exchanging grances...). The add-ons (musicians, comedian, magician, etc.) were fantastic, however. The technical staff does great work making lighting and sound make everything look and sound first class. The ship is very well appointed for live entertainment and actifvities. And improved staff would make everything all the more One whimsical note: the ship was built for an Asian Cruise line in 1998. NCL purchased it from that line. But clearly the ship was built for smaller clientele as the sneeze guards at the buffet were set at an average person's elbow height. Try grabbing anything from a second row at the buffet with that arrangement. We all looked like Tyrannosaurus Rexes working our serving tongs. Very funny. Costs Maya had an incredible number of excursions and they all looked (and from feedback we received) were first rate. Cozumel excursions are also phenomenal. We chose clear kayak and snorkeling. It was fantastic. There were so many great choices in Cozumel. We wished would could have had more time to do others as well. Overall, a great trip. We all enjoyed ourselves. But the lazy staff kept it from being a top shelf experience. The ship needs more attention to detail. The passengers need more attention from the staffers. We could have lived without the stops in Belize or Guatemala. More time should have been spent in Cozumel and Costa Maya. The whole Philippino staff needs to be replaced by a group that underands how to cater to and serve a customer on vacation. I'm sure they've been 'trained' but there appears to be a cultural gap because the problem was chronic from bow to stern in all areas. The bar tenders and staff were the worst. Whenever we asked for water (in the tropics, we believe in keeping hydrated when drinking), every staffer's shoulders would droop and they would sluff away as if we had run over their kitten. I guess since they can't run your room card for free water, they didn't feel they wanted to provide service. Surely they knew a $14 pair of drinks would follow every request for a glass of water, no? They never got it. Very disappointing and uncomfortable. Empty bottles and glasses would sit for 15-45 minutes without any attention ("let me get this, may I bring you another one, sir?"). I suppose it's a good thing. Our bar tabs were probably 1/2 to 1/3 what they would have been if the bar tenders and wait staff was proactive.

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Nov 30, -0001

western caribbean

Overall, we had a great time. We had good weather and enjoyed the ports we visited. There were a few things that I think could be improved by NCL, but generally speaking it was a fun, relaxing week away from home. I had read some negative things about the ship and staff, but we thought the ship was nice and the staff was fairly friendly - certainly never rude. The worse thing I saw wrong with ship was that there were a lot of foggy windows with

condensation that need to be replaced. All in all - a wonderful vacation. My husband and I both thought the food was average - everything was pretty tasty, but nothing was special. We did not eat in any of the up-charge restaurants, sticking to the main dining rooms and buffet. We discovered that the Gardens restaurant was better than Windows. Even though it was the same menu, food was served quicker and at a better temperature than in Windows. We have been on other cruises with other cruise lines and felt the food was a notch above what was offered on NCL. We ate breakfast at the Raffles buffet several times during the week and it was good - in fact the best meal Raffles served. We ate at Raffles one night and I did not like it. It was just like any all-you-eat-buffet restaurant you might visit. The salads were okay, but the main courses and desserts were not very good. In fact, I would say that desserts were the poorest quality of all the food they served, even in the main dining rooms. For example, they had a souffle on the menu 3 nights - one night vanilla, one night strawberry, and one night coconut. It was the best desserts I had, but 3 nights? Couldn't they come up with a couple of new desserts? My son had the chocolate torte one night and it was dry. The fries and chicken strips at the Blue Lagoon were really good. But don't bother ordering cheesecake - it wasn't good - not rich and creamy at all. None of us gained weight on this cruise. My husband even lost weight! Our room was fine - no complaints, except the TV was crummy, but really, who cares too much about the TV in the room? The room was small, of course, but no more than we expected. The beds were slightly hard, but we like a hard bed. I did not even ask about a mattress topper or egg crate. The bathroom was pretty roomy - the shower was a good size and plenty of hot water. The entertainment was mixed. We all like Second City - we watched them several times. The magician and comedian were enjoyable as well - not great, but certainly a good night of entertainment. However, watching the shows put on by the ship's production crew was just like watching a high school show, except with a high school production, you usually know some of the cast and enjoy watching the kids. This show unfortunately did not have that appeal. We also enjoyed the Arvin and Emily in the Galaxy of the Stars lounge. They were good and fun to watch. The Not So Newlywed Game was fun to watch, so was the passenger talent show. We enjoyed the crew talent show also, some may not have been great ,but at least they gave it their all. I was afraid that we would be pressured to buy art on the ship, based on some of the comments I had read, but we weren't. They did put a lot fliers in our room and there was art on display every where, but it didn't bother. The best deal on the ship was the photo package "Photo Frenzy." For $79.99, you could have all the pictures of taken by the NCL photographers. We came home with 25 8X10s and 35 5X7s. That s a really good deal, in my opinion. We took 2 NCL shore excursions - one at Belize and one in Santo Tomas De Castilla. Guatemala was first and we traveled by bus to the Mayan ruins of Quiriqua. Our travel guide was a 27 year old college student named Fernando. We absolutely loved him, he was so sweet and knowledgeable about the ruins. He took time on the long bus ride to come around and meet each one of us individually. He brought a CD of local music for us to listen to and gave every one a little map of Guatemala. He was very proud of his country and plans to start his own travel company when he graduates from college. He will call it "Guatemalan Quest," so be sure and watch for it if you are traveling to Guatemala in the future. The only negative thing I can say about the excursion is that it included a boat ride back down the Rio Dulce River. The boat ride was long (3 hours) and while it was pretty country, it was sort of boring after about an hour. Lunch was included, and it was OK. Now Belize was a different story - again we traveled by bus to look at the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. Our guide this time was named Anthony. He was an average sort of guide, knowledgeable about the ruins and quipped a few jokes here and there. However, he acted sort of bored with whole thing - it was obvious he did this day after day. He didn't have the enthusiasm and joy that Fernando had and it showed. The ruins were fantastic, lunch was better than the other tour lunch, and the boat ride back was 100 times better! We saw crocodiles, iguanas, dolphins, manatees, monkeys, and even bats! All in the river, up close and personal! At Costa Maya, we chose to walk off the ship and visit the little resort type area built for the cruise lines. It was pleasant. There is a nice relaxing beach with hammocks and chaise lounges under little grass roofs. Surprisingly it was pretty quiet, I think most of the kids go off on beach excursions. We also took a taxi to the little town of Mahahual and ate lunch there at El Faro's. The food was very good. The tomatoes were the best I have ever eaten. A couple on the beach said they were afraid to eat in Mahahual because they were afraid of the water in which the vegetables and fruits had been washed. We ate it and suffered no ill effects. It was yummy! At Cozumel we just shopped. We have been there before a couple of times and decided to have a leisurely day wandering in and out of shops. It would be much better if the store employees were not so aggressive about trying to get you to walk in their shops. That got old. We ate at Poncho's Backyard. We have eaten there before and it's always good. Even with few complaints we had - I would go again today! Embarkation was painless, we had to wait an hour or so to get on the ship, but that doesn't bother us. We expected it and realized that everyone has to get off the ship before we can get on. Disembarkation was the same. We chose not to walk off the ship because we had a lot of luggage, but again, we didn't mind the wait. Once our luggage tag color was called, disembarking went quickly and smoothly. All in all, the problems or bumps we experienced were minor. NCL did a good job providing a fun atmosphere and pleasant experience. Lowest marks would go to quality of food and production crew. Highest marks to eating whenever you like, getting on and off the boat at all ports, and comfort of cabin.

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