Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship, Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship reviews
Just returned from a seven day cruise to the Caribbean. We have never been so happy to step onto dry land in our life. The cruise started quite well. The luggage check in the garage was first rate. After we boarded, we were able to relax in the bar area until we could enter our staterooms. We quickly made friends, as there were several people from our hometown on the cruise. We'd heard that the drinks were expensive, but were able to buy longneck beer for around four dollars each, which is comparable to any bar. While the fact that the tip was automatically added to each drink gave our servers absolutely no incentive to go the extra mile...service at the bars (with one exception on the final day of the cruise) was excellent. I found that the main cafeteria (calling this area a buffet would be like calling a burger a steak, and an insult to any other buffet on the planet), Raffles, was open while we were waiting, so we sampled the fare. The food was bland and unremarkable. There were three lines serving the same exact thing, which I'm sure was meant to make the guests feel like there was a large selection of food. One perusal showed otherwise. The desserts were so bland that I was tempted to ask the chef if he knew what sugar looked like. At this point, we immediately booked dinner at Shogun's, the sushi restaurant. The cover charge was fifteen dollars a person....not bad, considering we usually drop around sixty bucks for sushi. The service was incredible. The sushi was very good. What a difference a cover charge makes! We spoke to several people on the cruise, and a majority of them had cruised for years. As this was our first cruise, we asked them how the food on the Spirit compared to the other cruiselines. With no exception, there was a resounding "yuck" from our new friends. One couple was amazed at the stark difference in the food between the "free" areas and the "cover charge" restaurants. One lady actually pointed out that she was grateful that they served free chicken strips and hot dogs in the children's area. Unfortunately, so many adults ate there because the food in the main areas was so bad, that the kids had to compete for their food. There was also a hot dog/hamburger bar in the main pool area. Thank goodness, as my husband and I frequented this area quite a bit. Room service was a joke. The menu was so limited as to be laughable. The portions were tiny, and we actually received one correct order the entire week. The usual wait time was at least an hour. The "fruit compote" listed was a half of a canned peach in heavy syrup. The fruit plate consisted of two tiny slices of cantaloupe that were barely ripe and a wedge of pineapple the size of a quarter. The last day, we actually celebrated when they added a slice of orange to the plate! The chocolate mousse...straight out of the box with Nestle chocolate syrup drizzled on top. Sorry....I could go on about the pitiful food...but I digress.... We heard so much about the importance of booking all of our excursions through NCL...as the boat wouldn't wait if we were late...and that we would receive better service from their contract companies. So, we booked two excursions: the zip line tour in Belize and the Captain's Choice two tank dive in Cozumel. Both my husband and I love to dive, and the fact that we were diving in Cozumel was one of the main reasons we chose the Spirit. On Tuesday, we arrived in Roatan, grabbed our snorkel gear, rented a car, and toured the island as fast as we could...as the boat let us off onto the pier at five pm and we had to be back on the boat at seven. We were able to spend a grand total of twenty minutes on a beach that was so jammed with tourists that my snorkeling time was mainly spent avoiding beach balls and kicking feet. The shopping was minimal, and by five pm, most of the shops that I wanted to visit were already closed. We arrived back at the pier to find that the "preffered" car rental place that NCL endorsed was closed. So, we had to sit at the counter for almost thirty minutes, nervously watching passengers board the boat, waiting for our agent. There had been some talk about an "incident" regarding the zip line tour (the preferred one that NCL endorsed), but every time we asked a crew member, they denied any knowledge of any accident. As my husband and I were scheduled for the same type of excursion, we were looking for a little reassurance of the safety of these trips. Nada. That night, we found out that a fourteen year old passenger had been brutally raped while we were in Roatan, but again, no information from the crew as to the safety of the countries we were visiting. Now, mind you, my husband has made several mission trips to Honduras, and I used to work for the UN in Holland. We're not amateurs to travelling in unsafe countries (after all, we lived two hours from Progresso, Mexico for over two years)...but I was extremely concerned (with reason) about the hundreds of teenagers on the boat. Fortunately, the passengers gave a rat's ass about them, as NCL wasn't sharing any information, and the key phrase around the boat became "don't let your child out of your sight...go with them to the bathroom if you have to..." The next day found us in the beautiful port of Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala. I'm not making this up folks...Guatemala. Yes, we knew the itinerary, but were naive enough to think that we would have some shopping options. We docked at a port where the most interesting view consisted of hundreds of rusting metal shipping containers. To get to the unairconditioned barn, sorry, shopping mall, we had the pleasure of walking four city blocks in ninety degree weather. I felt so bad for the older people on the boat. There were two lone souls biking people back and forth, but as there were three ships docked at the same time, you can imagine how long the physically impaired had to wait for assistance. This, of course, was after they let us out of the hall we were locked in for forty five minutes...we had the pleasure of being caught in the middle of a "drill"...with about fifty other people. We rented a cab to take us to the single mall within forty miles, and as we pulled out of the gates of the port, we were greeted with the sight of sagging buildings, gun toting policemen and teenagers swaggering down the streets with loaded spearguns. We actually did enjoy the shopping, and our cab driver showed up on time with a smile to take us back to the port. We returned to our room to receive a call from the excursion desk. They had cancelled our dive excursion in Cozumel, as, according to them, we hadn't been on a dive in the last twelve months. We asked the guy, who was a dive instructor, if there was any way we could take a "refresher" course...and they said sorry. You're not diving. And if you take an "unofficial" excursion...and you're late...you're on your own getting back to the United States. At this point, if airfare could have been arranged, we would have packed our stuff, told them to go to hell and gone home. Unfortunately...I was the director of our group of thirty six people...so I had to stay. Now, I'm an attorney...and I looked through EVERY piece of literature regarding this dive. There was absolutely not ONE WORD regarding the one year dive requirement. On to the next day...and the one excursion that they let us go on...the zip line tour. Our excursion ticket said to report to the dock at ten twenty...so at nine forty...we reported to the debarking area to get on the boat. The woman in front of me was on an excursion with the same meeting time and place. She was extremely upset, due to the fact that a crew member told her that she had not allowed enough time to tender to the dock. That she had likely missed her excursion. She was still going to try to get to the dock, to see if possibly she could get a taxi to the excursion spot...or even catch her group before they left. I tried to ask a crew member if we had missed our excursion, also...and the man snapped at me and chewed me out out until my husband stepped in and told him to watch his tone, or he'd find himself on the floor. As it takes A LOT to get my husband riled...and I was trying to keep my own cool...I was able to calm my husband down. The crew member realized he'd gone too far and retreated back to an area behind the ropes. We were able to catch our group in time to go on the tour. The excursion consisted of a three hour round trip on a rattling school bus with minimal air conditioning to a place in Belize that was so remote that the tour guide jokingly told us we were going to get a "free massage" from the bumpiness of the roads. We soon found out she wasn't kidding. We arrived at the tour, had a great time zipping from tree to tree, stopped for a quick lunch that was delicious, and were on our way back to town. I felt a tap on my shoulder. The woman behind me asking if I had any Benadryl. All I had was a Claritin quick release tab....which she promptly took. Her face was rapidly swelling, and she became quickly distressed. That's when we found out two items that NCL's "official" excursion company failed to tell us. One: there was absolutely NO medical or first aid kit on the bus. Two: some of the trees we were zipping through and grabbing onto to steady us on the uneven path were extremely poisonous. Joy. The guide kept stopping at every store on the way back to town, but none stocked Benadryl. My husband is a nurse, and I'm a registered respiratory therapist, so we knew that, at the least...we could do CPR on her if she stopped breathing before we got back to town. Which, thank god, she didn't. However, she was having serious difficulty by the time we finally got back to civilization. While they put her in an ambulance, we had thirty minutes to frantically grab souveniers before the last boat to our cruise ship departed. Wait...it gets better...we get back to our ship...to find that one person in our group had contracted serious gastrointestinal issues the night before. Before she and her daughter could get medical attention in the onboard clinic, they were lectured extensively on the fact that midnight was an inconvenient time for the doctor to have to see anyone. Then, they were quarantined in their cabins and their shore excursions revoked. All of a sudden, there were scores of crew members wiping down every surface on the deck...as a lot of people were getting sick onboard. I give them kudos for that. I felt a little queasy one night, but after twelve years in the medical field, there's not much that my husband and I haven't been exposed to...so we were lucky to not have to be quarantined, as well. The next day, we decided to book an NCL-endorsed snorkel excursion in Cozumel...as any number of delays could occur on a dive trip...and the next port of call was going to be New Orleans. Missing our boat back home would have been the perfect end to an already hellish cruise. Okay, we're divers, but we also enjoy the occasional snorkeling trip. Every snorkeling trip we've taken consisted of a swim in fifteen to twenty foot water, deep enough for the occasional dip, but still shallow enough to be warm, with a couple of reefs and some friendly fish. The NCL excursion boat took us out to the middle of the bay, and dropped us off in water that ranged from thirty to sixty feet. Chilly would be an understatement. I watched divers pull up next to us...donned in three mm wetsuits...while we were freezing our butts off in swim suits. Now, my vision is pretty good, but when most of the fish are sixty feet away...cruising alone the sand...I couldn't even begin to identify half of them. The guides kept herding the fifty people in the water in a tight circle, and after a few kicks to the head by the various snorkelers, I was ready to get back on the boat. My husband fared no better....one of his Mare fins was actually ripped of his foot by an overzealous swimmer trying to get a closer look at a sea turtle, and he had to dive to catch it before it hit the ocean floor. The ride back was much better, as they served free alcohol all the way back to the dock. Sad to admit...that was my favorite part of the trip. While we were in town, we found several dive shops who would have had no problem taking us out that day....for an average of fifty to seventy dollars less than NCL's prices. We did get back to the dock in plenty of time to shop and hang out with friends, and there was a great assortment of merchandise for us to choose from. The next day was a cruising day for us...and we had booked massages. A marvelous end to the trip. Great service all around in the spa. We'd signed up for the beer tasting session in Henry's Pub for that afternoon, and arrived to find that they had cancelled it, as only six people had signed up...and they had to have fifteen to hold it. So, no problem...we were relaxed and ready to just hang out on deck. We took our complimentary bottle of wine that NCL had given us for booking the trip up to the outside lounge area, and I asked the bartender for a couple of red wine glasses. He told me he didn't have any. Now, I've been known to drink red wine out of a paper cup, if the need arises...but I saw people sipping wine out of stemmed glasses all over the bar. The guy swore that there were no wine glasses behind his bar...he said, "I guess they brought them from another bar." So...I went to four different bars before I found one that would let me have two red wine glasses. I was told by both bartenders at the bar..."you have to bring these back when you're done with them." Not a problem. At this point, I'd covered four floors...and was on the other side of the boat from my husband. I wanted to get back to him to continue our vacation. As I was walking back in the lounge where my husband was waiting, I passed the same bartender, who had sworn on his life that he had no stemware at his bar, walking out to deliver four wine glasses to a group two tables away from us. At this point, I was so weary that I just gave him a dirty look. What did he care? His tip was already built into every ticket....whether we wanted to give it to him, or not. Okay, I know I've written a novel...but as we both now feel that the only way we'll go on another cruise is if we're bound and there's a gun to our heads...we just wanted to give potential cruisers an accurate and honest assesment of some of the pitfalls. The other passengers who cruised regularly assured me that the other cruise lines were much much better....from the food to the service...but once bitten, twice shy. From now on, we're flying to our destination and staying at a hotel.
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The Christmas sail on the Spirit was wonderful. We had a inside stateroom on Deck 11, with 4 people which did have it challenges. Note Room 11131 is very noisy, there was some type of machinery that was very loud at night.
The food in the Windows and Gardens was below average, food was bland and cold. The blue lagoon was great for lunch. The raffles buffet was average, the specialty cafe's were superior. The fish and chips in henrys pub was good.
The Chocoholics buffet did not limit to what you could take, and believe me most people just piled it on plates and took a few bites and threw most of it away which was a shame. For
the ones in the back of the line not much to pick from. We sailed on the Dream last Christmas the food was 100per cent better, what gives?
We did not buy any shore excursions, we hired cabs.. It was half the price. Just make sure you find one with A/C. Make sure you see all the islands... they are all so different.
There is a excellent library on board so leave your books at home. The entertainment was so-so. you can watch it in your
cabin less fuss. The wine tasting is not to be missed. Bingo was too expensive for my taste.
I think the pre tipping makes for inferior service, no incentive for a tip since your already have it taken out of your credit card. The bartenders and room stewards were great, the waiters were burned out and not very talkative.
We sailed with 2 teens, they had allot of fun. Met lots of friends. Plenty of activities for them.
The ship itself is stunning, lots of woodwork and art. Loved the decor. Would I sail again? Yes, but I would eat at the specialty cafes almost every night.
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Our sailing was from New York on December 18th 2005 on the Norwegian Spirit, upon embarking the ship checking in went quick and smooth.
We were on the 11th deck and had a balcony room. The rooms are quite small with limited space for clothes. The bathroom had plenty of room with storage for your cosmetics. The bathroom had a separate shower cubical and separate toilet with sliding doors. The NCL is freestyle dining, which suited us. The 1st 2 days were quite rough at sea then it was calm sailing all the way.
There were plenty of activities on the ship however some of them were very pricey i.e. like the bingo was $45 to play.
The buffet restaurant was Ok but we proffered to eat in either Windows or the garden rooms. Book these restaurants was a doodle. If you did not want to book in advance then you would go to the restaurant and they would book you in and give you a bleeper. You could then go for a drink and when the bleeper went off your table was ready. The specialiality restaurants were also very good and had a small service charge for each restaurant.
The trips were very reasonable on this sailing so we did do some organised trips. The niggly points of this cruise were that they charged an extra 15% gratuity on the drinks and $4.50 for a bottle of Evian water which was a rip off. We did not mind paying the $10 per person per day auto gratuity that was all well and good and the staff did earn it without a doubt, It was the little add ons that we thought were not justified.
The whole ship staff and crew from start to finish exceeded our expectations and we have previously sailed with other cruise lines. We would use Norwegian again without a doubt.
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