When our original honeymoon cruise was cancelled, our apartment became panic central. Within a few hours we were discussing a land vacation, Paris, Hawaii, other cruises, or just cancelling all together. You may remember that after an exhausting late night, we got into bed and I blurted out “LET’S JUST TAKE THE NORWEGIAN CRUISE.” It was the near identical itinerary to our cancelled cruise, just a lot more expensive. But, we had the money in the bank and we decided to just go for it – eek! The next day, Mr. BFT changed our flights and then I booked the new cruise. And the rest is honeymoon history.
After we were booked on our new cruise on the NCL Spirit, I tweeted at NCL (@CruiseNorwegian) and asked them if they have anything special to offer cruisers who were screwed by Carnival. Guess what – they responded IMMEDIATELY. Good customer service, NCL! They gave me an email to write to, which I did. I told them about how our honeymoon was almost ruined by Carnival, but NCL saved us! But, it was a lot more money. But still, we were very happy to now be sailing with them.
I’m super happy to report – NCL took AMAZING care of us! We got VIP treatment, literally! We found out on the last day of the cruise we were entered in the system as VIPs, which explains the wonderful treatment we received from the crew. But more on that later.
As soon as we boarded the ship and got into our cabin, we found the room had been decorated!
Our cabin was nice and clean and recently updated, but still small. Unless you get a suite, I don’t think you can avoid “small” on a cruise ship. One thing I noticed between NCL and the Disney Cruise, was on NCL we had a King bed. On Disney we had a Queen bed and it made a load of difference as far as walking space. Mr. BFT and I couldn’t walk by each other at the foot of the bed – there was a lot of “bed stepping” as we ended up calling it. Still, we loved our little room and never felt cramped or crowded in it.
We were greeted on that first day with lots of goodies – a fruit plate, a bottle of champagne and two flutes, and a tapas plate with fish and caviar (which we sadly returned because we came aboard late and we weren’t sure how long it had been sitting out). Our goodies made us feel very special!
The Spirit was not originally a Norwegian ship. It was built in 1998 as the Super Star Leo and was built for cruises around the Orient. After purchased by Norwegian, they kept some of the Asian flair – and since I am a HUGE Mulan fan, I found the Asian touches to be super awesome!
You can tell that the Spirit has been recently renovated and is kept in great shape. Everything looks new and clean. The staff is incredibly friendly, considering their long hours and their very long appointments. Our favorite bartender, Ed in the Blue Lagoon on Deck 7, had just returned for a 9 month assignment. That’s completely insane. Still – everyone is smiling, happy, and ready to serve. It’s just incredible.
Speaking of serving, this is Nengah, our room steward. He was THE BOMB. He knew our names from Day 1, he always had a huge smile, always asking us if we had a nice day. Any time we needed something, he was there within minutes. He made the bed, cleaned the shower, vacuumed, and made towel animals. He refused to come home with me. Don’t think I didn’t ask!!
Let’s talk about the food!
For early port days, we ordered room service the evening before, with a delivery time. It was always on time, or early, for each day. When we had extra time, we usually ate in the Raffles buffet, just two floors up from us. We would either make a plate to bring back to our room, or enjoy the sun on the upper deck. The above photo was taken on the day we sailed into Izmir, Turkey. We made good use of our orange juice and champagne flutes, by making mimosas almost every morning with our breakfast.
At night we usually ate at the Windows dining room. The photo above was from our last day on the ship – they were changing over from breakfast to lunch. Yeah, we were pretty late risers on the days when we didn’t have to be somewhere. Windows dining room is huge and the food was almost pretty excellent – I say “almost” because a couple dishes were loaded with sodium and on the last night was served some lamb that was so fatty I couldn’t even cut it. Aside from that, the food was wonderful and the specialty restaurants we tried were also to die for.
Oh, and the Chocoholics Buffet on the last night was ah-maze-ing.
As far as being VIPs – we received desserts every night, usually truffles or chocolate covered strawberries, 24 hour concierge service (if we needed it, and we didn’t because Nengah took good care of us), a free dinner in a specialty restaurant, and VIP disembark service which basically meant we could disembark at any time on the final morning. Our luggage tags labeled “VIP” was the giveaway that we were, in fact, VIPs! We felt super spoiled and very special!
Some people have asked me my favorite spots on the ship. I have a couple:
Upper Deck Aft on Sea Days.
Me and my new pal Joann were lucky to find a secluded corner on the Aft upper deck (I think it’s Deck 13) on the last Sea Day. If it’s not too windy, this place is perfect for some quiet reading (Joann) or napping (me). Most people try to find a spot by the pool or along the sides of the ship, so the Aft is relatively forgotten about. A little bit of tranquility after a hectic 12 days. (By the way, I know my ankles and feet look relatively normal here, but I swear they felt like they were ballooned three times their size on account of all the walking you do on this itinerary. They were throbbing for days after!)
Seating outside Raffles, Aft.
This tiered seating overlooked the kid pool (which was pretty quiet all cruise). The lounge chairs and tables are nice, especially for late night secluded reading or snacking. Love this spot!
(Not Pictured): The Blue Lagoon Lounge. On my first day on the ship, we went to the first bar we could find, which was The Blue Lagoon on Deck 7, just off the atrium. I explained to Ed the bartender that I had a corn intolerance and I needed a margarita made with real sugar, and not corn syrup. He told me I needed to order the “Ultimate Margarita” which was made with “organic” ingredients. He made one for me and I was hooked! I didn’t order from him every single day, but I made sure to always stop by and say “hi.” I was surprised one morning when I was at The Cafe ordering coffee and I hear behind me “Good morning, Mindy!” I turn around and there’s Ed! He recognized me even outside of his station. I heart Ed and his margaritas. Blue Lagoon was also a great place to order a burger, chicken tenders, or a salad if you needed a quick snack. We ate dinner here a couple times when we didn’t feel like going through the pageantry of a sit down fancy dinner at Windows.
My overall rating of Norwegian Cruise Lines and the Norwegian Spirit? A solid A. They took really good care of us when Carnival ditched us. Everything on the ship ran smoothly (as far as we could tell). We had some issues with our toilet not flushing early on but they were there to repair it within minutes. That was our only hiccup. The staff is wonderful and friendly. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the service is worth it. I would love to sail with NCL again. The Spirit itself does not have the bells and whistles of the newer, monster ships that are being built, but we loved its simple charm and easy-to-navigate size.
Thank you Norwegian for saving our honeymoon and allowing us to have this trip of a lifetime!