Taryn and Sarah
Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Spirit
Sailing Date: February 9th, 2006
Itinerary: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.