Friday, March 25, 2011

0nboard the Norwegian Spirit

We‘re sitting on the pool deck of the Norwegian Spirit while docked in Cozumel and in the final days of our celebration cruise for Ben‘s 65th birthday. (When did we get this old?) We‘re also taking advantage of NCL‘s generosity to us for being top NCL sales producers for Cruises Inc. last year. Thank you, NCL!

So, you ask, can she write an unbiased review of this ship? Actually, I think I can. Have we been treated especially well? Absolutely. But we've often dined and utilized facilities and services like other passengers, too, and those will be the thrust of my review.

Truthfully, among all NCL ships, the 14-year-old Spirit has received the most mixed opinions from my clients. (Well, the NCL America products did, too, in the initial stages, but the Pride of America gets very good feedback these days.). As a result, my expectations of the ship itself were not very high. Although we could have selected from numerous other ships and itineraries for taking advantage of this award, a quick analysis of our 2011 travel schedule and our first grandchild due in August convinced us to book now and with the convenience of a New Orleans departure.

Ben and I have both been very pleasantly surprised.

The Spirit originally sailed as the SuperStar Leo under the flag of NCL‘s parent copmpany, so she was constructed with the Asian market in mind. That meant a much more larger casino--and it‘s huge! There was originally even a separate room off the main casino that served as a high roller‘s club. It was transformed into a dedicated art gallery--a fact that makes this ship a favorite assignment for the onboard art auctioneer.

The decor also reflects the Spirit‘s Asian heritage. The atrium area is quite lovely with two water fountains flanking a baby grand resting on a glass covered pool of water. The pool deck takes you over to Italy, however, wth Roman Forum-style columns and statues. The kids‘ area in the back of the ship is amazing, with clever water slides and play equipment and a tiered sitting area for parental observation--and a convenient bar to keep the grownups happy while observing!

I had expected our balcony cabin to be much smaller than it is. Another suprise. We found plenty of storage space (if you know how to wink it right), and loved the bathrooms with separate areas for the shower and toilet, each with a sliding glass door for privacy, and with the sink in the middle. Think Epic without the cabin entrance door in between!

Watch for part two of my review next.

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