Norwegian Spirit Cruise Review by Canadianvoyager
- Sail Date: September 2018
- Destination: Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony
We arrived in Civitavecchia one day before the sailing date; left Ottawa towards Toronto were we had a three hour stop over waiting for our connecting flight with Alitalia that went directly to Fiumicino Airport. Being such a straight forward flight it was really incomprehensible that such a thing could've happened.
Sad to say, not getting our luggage on final destination wasn't the first time. It also happened on our previous cruise (yes! twice in a row) with Viking; the difference was that in that case the whole situation (time tables, connections, etc.) was much more convoluted. I wrote my review of that cruise last February, so if you are interested in reading about it in detail you can have access by going to “Cruise Critic Reviews”; after choosing the location: Caribbean, you have to press “Choose ship” and way under that huge list of ship’s names, look for “Viking Sky”, press and at the bottom of that first page you will find a series of squares with numbers in them, press square number 5 and keep pressing till you reach square # 15 and on the date of Feb. 2018 you will find the review for my nightmare cruise under the title “Cruising without luggage”. Its a bit complicated but I do believe you will find it well worth reading.
The following day once at the Terminal in Civitavecchia, we borrowed the cell phone of a very helpful NCL agent and called Alitalia to find out the status of our luggage and happily learned that our luggage had been located (it was still in Toronto!). They hoped to get it to us before the ship’s departure but unfortunately that didn't happen so we have to cancel our reservation for the following night (sea day) in Bistro and couldn't attend the Captain's VIP reception that same night.
During that first day, we were in constant connection with one of the staff members on the Reception Desk; her name was Catherine and I/we cannot say enough how much effort she made trying to smooth things and trying to give us good news; a really outstanding girl that NCL should consider promoting.
After touring Dubrovnik we returned to the ship and with our minds completely blank, opened the door to the suite and what did we find???!! YES! The three suitcases, right in the middle of the living-room (note: another difference with Viking was that we didn't recover our suitcases till our return home!). At any rate that was yesterday and today was today and as you can imagine from then on everything was rosy.
Now back to business! I had read on Cruise Critic many bad reviews of the Spirit itself as well as their staff and food, and that made us very concerned how this cruise would turn out. But we are very happy to say that all those critical comments were not correct; I do not know those reviewers nor their tastes or personalities but for sure I know myself very well and I can attest that I am a very demanding person when cleanliness, service, food, etc. are concerned and from the first moment I got onboard the Spirit and with a very critical eye after all the things I had read, it was not possible to find a single fault in any area. I agree the ship is not "young" but it is kept in very good condition, having staff working around the clock, painting, scrubbing, fixing, etc.
Food in general was very good; we tried all the specialty restaurants twice and there are no complaints about slow service, temperature, flavours and presentation. Rating: * I was happily surprised with Cagney's – really good food and the staff very proper and fun; *The same happened with Toscana whose servings (even if you asked for a half portion) are enormous; the staff are tremendous, very attentive, fast, good spirit and fun. * Last but not least, Bistro - We all know that it is a mistake to have high expectations about anything and that's in the way we went there. Don't get me wrong, the food wasn't bad but it was not as exceptional as I read in many of those mentioned in C. Critic reviews; for sure the waiter we had the first time had a lot to do with it; he was very pushy for us to choose our plates (I had to call his attention) and specially because we didn't feel him honest as he had a fixed and fake smile. In the same way a cabin steward can destroy a cruise, the same happens with a server, being a restaurant, bar or lounge. Anyway the second time there, a very nice and beautiful waitress (Edroilyn Andrada) made our evening perfect and the food tasted even better!
Went once to * Gardens; too busy, extremely noisy and tables too close to each other; food was ok. * Windows has a better atmosphere, more spacious, selection of plates very good as much about temperature, flavour, presentation, etc. * Shogun was good, nice atmosphere. * Raffles, most of the time we were having lunch on the Aft section in full sunlight and much more peaceful than the mid ship area close to the pool. Service for drinks (wine) was good though sometimes a bit too slow. The selection of dishes at the Buffet was huge and changing daily, the staff behind the counters were very fast to assist you and desserts were sensational as much as the selection of breads. In this area (the Buffet) the improvements are immense comparing it to my previous cruise on NCL Star (that really IS a very bad ship). The huge mistake we made was having breakfast there on the last sea day; well, it was quite chaotic to say the least, people (grown ups) extremely rude, pushing, crossing in front of you, running to get first to the table you were heading to, etc. Though this situation was not new, it was still very disconcerting and disgusting and regardless that the food was good, it was not possible to enjoy our breakfast properly; as a matter of fact, we left before finishing. Something to mention; the coffee throughout the ship is horrendous; weak and tasteless and the orange juice is good but extremely sweet. Very happy we have a great coffee machine in our suite.
Entertainment – Taking advantage that suite passengers have a reserved balcony area we went twice; the first time the show was half way on and we realized very quickly that the singing, I should say the screaming was off the scale but thinking that it would be temporary, we sat down. We were wrong! and it got worse and worse so we got up and left!!! The second time was because of “good reviews” I had read about the show (Elements). We saw it from the beginning and realized that a magician was involved in the whole thing and unfortunately I do not like magic tricks at all but because the costumes and the lighting were very good we stayed put but it didn’t take long for us to realize that jumping and circus performances were the norm. There was only one very brief classic ballet piece that was done very well and that was the only dancing in the whole show, so in one word, for us it was a big disappointment.
The Cruise Director and his Assistant were both huge pathetic jokes and it was difficult to understand why people were laughing at the ridiculous and vulgar moves this Director was making. He had a signature cat call at the end of every time he was on stage or on the TV and that high pitch “Woo Hoo” was really silly! But it seems the personal tastes of cruisers are as diverse as colours. Both of them belong to a different kind of cruise line.
Library – Well located and appointed with good taste but the method they have for you to choose a book and take it with you is quite complicated. For one, there are two time periods in the day if you want to take out a book otherwise all the bookshelf cabinets are locked up. Not easy having to adjust your schedule according to the morning and afternoon time slots.
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The bed was the biggest bed I ever slept in! too big for my taste, besides not being possible to divide it into two singles (we are two guys), restricts the movement between wall (one side) and the closet, on the other side. The storage is good but you have to be a bit inventive to utilize the space effectively, such as putting all the life-jackets under the huge bed and that made almost all the top shelf of the closet usable. The bed is so big that also our 3 suitcases were placed there without difficulty and to top it up, the room was practically surrounded with wall mirrors and even one on the ceiling.
The towels and the slippers are really of a substandard quality for a suite and the amenities provided were very good but with "no refills", just at the beginning and thank you very much. Thank goodness the coffee machine was making fantastic coffee - pity the cups were too small.
There was an issue that might upset travellers who are sensitive to sounds and movements that are felt in the Aft of a ship; those sounds/movements were specially felt when the ship was sailing at a very high speeds otherwise it was less noticeable and you soon get used to it.
The staff at the Suite. The Butler (Constancio Fernandez from the Philippines) without any doubt was the best Butler I/we ever had. On top of things, fast to find solutions, respectful, funny, quiet and prompt doing his duties, etc. etc. For sure he will be very difficult to top; we will find out very soon on our next cruises with Oceania and Regent; our preferred cruise lines nowadays. The Concierge (Karin Goedecke from Germany) was another star! Extremely helpful and always with an inviting smile; for sure another second to none and the best so far. The Cabin Assistant (Ed from the Philippines) quietly and unobtrusively efficiency. All in all an exceptional team.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Corfu* Corfu – Again with Viator for a tour of the city before heading to the hilltop Achilleion Palace, built by the Empress of Austria (aka Sissi) and after paying the entrance fee we toured all the different levels of it and afterwards we were on our own for about half an hour to look around the beautiful and perfectly kept gardens.View All 12,794 Corfu Cruise Port Reviews
Once time was up, off to the bus and heading back to downtown Corfu were we had free time and decided to invite our Tour guide Ann Marie to join us for lunch. Had a fantastic time the three of us enjoying delicious Greek dishes (chosen by Ann Marie) with good wine and a taste of the national spirit called Ouzo. Great tour and great finish.
Ann Marie was born in Amsterdam but after visiting Corfu (like the Durrell’s TV show) fell in love with the place, moved there, met and married a Greek guy and the rest is history. Like Tina in Split, her knowledge of the area was immense and like Tina a never ending story. Had a great and dry sense of humour and we really enjoyed her company during lunch.
View Cruise Critic's Corfu Cruise Port Review
Dubrovnik* Dubrovnik - After that sea day we arrived in Dubrovnik (a site well known to us); used the ship transfer ($15 return) and we toured on our own. We knew what we wanted to do (one of the few things still not seen) so on arrival walked over to the cable car ticket office (for about 15 minutes) ; no line ups but we considered the price of a return ticket quite excessive (22 Euros); after that there is another long walk to the entrance to the cable car itself (luckily the line-up was quite small); the view from the top was breathtaking, helped by the superb sunny (and hot!) day we were having. There is an outdoor restaurant up there but it was quite busy so back to the main plaza, found a very nice and tranquil trattoria (St. Blaise @ Lucarica St., right side of the church) with very polite and nice servers. Good food and very good but pricy wine!! Great time and much needed. Indeed Dubrovnik is a tourist trap and is nothing you can do to avoid it.View All 1,176 Dubrovnik Cruise Port Reviews
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Katakolon (Olympia)* Katakolon (Olympia) – We have been here once before doing what every first time visitor does in this place, that is going were the First Olympic Games took place and visiting the Museum, etc. Having done that already and as it was such a sunny and hot day we decided to have a beach break. If you plan to go around on your own, this is what you have to do. When you leave the ship and after a short walk you will find a taxi stand and staff who offer round trip taxis rides to wherever you would like to go.View All 550 Katakolon (Olympia) Cruise Port Reviews
We hired one for about 30 Euros (cash) and went to Agios Andreas Beach, chosen after reading info from their site: “beautiful scenery, sandy beaches, clear waters and a tranquil atmosphere”
The reality couldn’t far more from the truth! It was true about the view and waters (colour and transparency) but if you want to swim you have to walk a lot over stones and pebbles to reach it. The beach itself was very narrow and crowded with little room to walk between water and beach chairs/umbrellas. Tranquil atmosphere?
Our lunch started very peacefully but all of a sudden huge groups of people were arriving from nowhere, moving tables, chairs, talking and laughing quite loudly. We realized that more and more people were coming and others disappearing. Really, we didn’t know what to think. When leaving we discovered why! That beach resort was one of the stops of the Hop on Hop off bus route!!
After the swim and sunning we had lunch on the elevated decks with great views of the beaches and waterside Lunch consisted of a large Greek salad that came with a tremendous piece of feta cheese! Good fried red mullets and a nice bottle of white Greek wine.
We waited for our driver for the arranged pick up time to return to the ship. When going back to the NCL Spirit we had to cross one of the town’s 3 main streets and we had the chance to learn how great that whole area is and how much more we would’ve enjoyed spending time there instead! Next time if our next cruise ship stops in Katakolon we will know exactly where to go and NOT go!
View Cruise Critic's Katakolon (Olympia) Cruise Port Review
Koper* Koper – On our own, second time there so we knew where to go and what to do. It is an interesting place but we realized this time the very small choices of in or outdoor bars or restaurants. For sure, it’s worth a visit especially if you plan to buy some souvenirs.View All 85 Koper Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Koper Cruise Port Review
Malta (Valletta)* Malta (Valetta) – We were very much looking forward to going there!! No idea why it took us so long to do it!! Regardless that it was our first time we decided (after informing ourselves in depth about the area) to go around on our own. Was unfortunate that the ship arrived so late (1PM), regardless it was schedule to leave at 8PM. We left the ship as soon as possible and headed to the lifts that are not too far from the cruise ship dock; ticket is a bargain at 1 Euro round trip.View All 598 Malta (Valletta) Cruise Port Reviews
Once up there (about 300 feet high) you are very close to the Barrakka Gardens, a very nice and peaceful area; from there we walked towards Republic Street that is a main shopping area and where the St. John’s Co-Cathedral is located, paid the entrance fee (10 E & 7.50 E Seniors) that included a “tour audio phone” and a numbered floor plan of the Cathedral, went in; there are not enough words to describe the interior of that place! Stunning? Unique? Breathtaking? All those things and more!! After being in so many churches and cathedrals (including all 5 Cathedrals in Rome) I thought I had seen it all!! How wrong I was! This is a place that shouldn’t be missed. On top of all that luxury there are two beautiful paintings of Caravaggio shown in another very elegant chamber.
There was one very upsetting thing and it was how tremendously hot the interior of the Cathedral was!, regardless the amount of fans all around.
We left and started discovering the streets of Malta and all of a sudden we were in front of one of the oldest cafes in the city (if not the oldest), whose interior was also something to see. I am talking about the Café Cordina located also on Republic Street; we sat in the outdoor area the Cordina has across from their place and had, can you guess? Of course! A very nice glass of white wine. After relaxing for a while and looking at people going by, it was back to the ship. God willing, next tine in Malta I hope I’m able to see more of this fascinating island and very important, that the ship docks much earlier!!
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Split* Split/Trogir – This time we used the excursion tour service of Viator and it involved about a half hour ride to Trogir with a walking tour of that very interesting and crowded city; after that walk we had 45 minutes on our own so we strolled along a wide palm treed esplanade were all the bars and restaurants were located and, needless to say, we found a great and ample outdoor bar and enjoyed a beautiful local white wine.View All 395 Split Cruise Port Reviews
Once the free time was over we got back to Split where another walking tour around that city was scheduled. Having been many times in that place we opted to leave the group and head back to the ship.
The tour guide (Tina, who looks a lot like Celine Dion) was overwhelmingly knowledgeable about all the areas and we found it many times that too much information was given, info that after a while you will not remember at all. Once on the ship, the usual.
View Cruise Critic's Split Cruise Port Review
Venice* Venice (o/n) – Well know this city so on the first day we decided to go on our own and experience/discover how to get to the Piazza del Popolo from where the water taxis and vaporettos’ ticket booths are. Using a monorail called “The people mover” located about 200 yards from the wharf – a fun ride costing only 1 euro. Another new thing for us was taking a vaporetto towards the Academia stop that is the closest stop to where we were planning to go the next day, which was the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (15 E or 12 E for seniors).View All 1,423 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
Once that was accomplished we went back to the main Plaza and started walking towards Venice itself over the large pedestrian bridge then along by the rail station etc. We found a great outdoor restaurant and enjoyed tremendously a local pizza with a fantastic Pinot Grigio. Back to the ship the same way.
The following day after breakfast in the cabin, we left following the now known route towards the Piazza; and took the vaporetto to the Academia stop and then walked over to PGM. For those who enjoy oil paintings this place is a must; you find unknown paintings from Picasso, Dali, and Peggy’s protégée Jackson Pollock and other lesser known ones. Also a few done by her only daughter (who died tragically very young). All the show rooms were very nicely laid out with very good lighting. In a back courtyard there is a smallish open air café/restaurant that was completely full. Because Venice, as usual, was crowded we went back to the ship for a very tranquil lunch on board at the Aft of Raffles. Glorious day, sunny and quite humid; we recommend, for those art lovers, a visit to the Museum but DO NOT use the vaporetto for transport as there are many stops. That is unless you don’t mind travelling standing up in a very crowded and narrow space surrounded by people who are completely and absolutely rude.
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