Either before or after reading this review on the NCL Spirit, please read my rules on reading ship reviews.
This review was written shortly after the cruise late summer in 2007:
Okay after being back a day and trying to get caught up, I thought I would try to type up a quick review of the NCL Spirit and the whole “freestyle” cruising.
I met so many wonderful people, both crew and passengers. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The itinerary was from to the Eastern Caribbean 8 nights including (surprisingly my favorite), Tortola and St. Thomas .
In regards to the Freestyle cruising, I spoke with a lot of people and overheard a lot of conversations regarding this and most of the response were the same, They did not like it. I was once again surprised that I didn’t like it. I thought I would like going to dinner any time I liked, but you really loose that personal touch from the wait staff. It showed in their service as well. They were running around crazy and a lot of times you had to wait for a table, then you had to wait for your water glass then even your water. On the Spirit they have 2 dining rooms, Windows and The Garden Room, but you can also go to La Trattoria (specialty) restaurant which does not have a service fee. We (my niece is the person that came along with me) went there and again the service was very poor. The food was good, nothing spectacular, but good. I did not try any of the other specialty restaurants, they were just too over priced for me, unless you make a reservation after 830pm then it’s half price. But I can’t see eating that late. Some of the people that me met told us when they went to Le Bistro (French) they had the $20 cover charge, but if they wanted the really good authentic cuisines it was an additional charge on top of that!! I did make a reservation for Teppanyaki for lunch, since they didn’t have anything available at a decent time for dinner. However, I ended up canceling after talking it over with my niece, we decided that paying the same $20 per person for lunch was ridiculous. I heard from other passengers they had gone for lunch and they regretted it, it just wasn’t the same type of atmosphere as it is during dinner. That was the other reason I canceled, I didn’t think it would be the same. They really need to lower the price for lunch.
The shows on the ship were good. I was a little disappointed that the NCL performers only did 2 shows. But we found out on the last night from the manager of the dancers (he gave 4 of us a backstage tour…amazing!) that they had just canceled their 3rd show the week before. The other shows were really good. The adult only shows were hilarious. The only problem with the shows were the times. They had about 3 shows where there was just one performance. That made it very difficult for dinner and for getting seats in the theater. It’s not necessarily true that they always have 2 shows. Some complaints about that.
The crew, they were WONDERFUL. They were so polite and a lot of fun. I met some many of them and they remember my name when passing by. That’s a nice feeling.
Activities on the ship. This is a difficult one. This was the first cruise I have been on during the summer months and let me tell you it was LOADED with kids! Which was good for me to see how the cruise line handled them. Our cabin was actually located right next to the kids center. They have a great center and program for the younger kids. Now for the teenagers, different story. There is a video arcade, they get bored with that very easily and there is a very very small disco behind the arcade, which wasn’t open every night. They just didn’t have anything for these teenagers to do in the evening. One night the kids were running down the hall knocking on cabin doors and running away. Another night, they were running around kicking over the “caution water floor” signs. All this took place around midnight or later. They do have a larger disco up on deck 13, just for teenagers, because they had a sign up the would not allow parents in unless they were meeting their kids. But, then they put a restriction on the age of the kids, anyone under 18 couldn’t be there past 11pm. Well, what’s the point in that?! They’re on a ship, they’re not going anywhere beside causing trouble!
Aside from the lack of children/teenage activities, they did have the regular cruise activities to do. BINGO anyone! Pool games, tarot card reading (I did this), Murder Mystery Dinner (that was fun, we were the characters), etc.
I’m going on the NCL Jewel in December after her renovations, so I’ll be curious to do a comparison between the 2.
As far as departing from NYC. We got to the cruise terminal about 11am, we were on the ship right about 115pm. I had paid for the transfers with NCL back to LGA and that was not very organized, but that’s not a reflection on NCL, that has to do with the people outside. We got back into port around 930am, a little early. But they started disembarking about 10am. We were off about 1015am. Our flight was schedule for 455pm. When we got to the airport the line was down the sidewalk just to check in the luggage. I would say, if a client books a flight around 1pm, they will be pushing it. I would recommend at least a 2pm flight when departing from LGA, now departing from or EWR they would need to allow for even more time.