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Robin

Age: 70

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Spirit

Sailing Date: 2011-12-25

Itinerary: 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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