Built in 1998 for Star Cruises as SuperStar Leo the ship transferred to Norwegian Cruise Lines in 2004 as Norwegian Spirit since which time it has built up a very loyal following across the world. Norwegian operate a fleet of 17 ships with Spirit being their smallest weighing in at only 75,900gt and carrying just over 2,000 passengers.
My story begins on boarding the ship on a wet and windy Friday morning in Southampton. Stepping on board, entering the atrium with spiral staircase, backed by water fountains you suddenly forget the inclement weather, surrounded by warmth, colour matched décor, glass fronted lifts and happy people the weather outside becomes a distant memory. Only one way to explore this ship, start at the top. Into the lift and up to deck 13, yes there is a deck 13, no superstition on this ship. Here are located golf driving nets, basketball court and running track whilst the front of this deck is home to the Celebrity Disco, sun bathing area and observation area.
Drop down to 12, the front of the ship becomes Galaxy of the Stars, a tastefully furnished lounge featuring white leather bucket type chairs and sofas, white top tables forming a contrast with the rich pale mauve carpet, very light grey design taking away any blandness, floor to ceiling windows on three sides affording the same view as the bridge on the deck below. Descend the small winding staircase to the bridge viewing area, watch the workings of the inner sanctum, an area that is normally ‘out of bounds’ and hidden to passengers. If you want to really relax visit the ‘Roman Spa’ and fitness centre, steam and sauna area, aqua swim and finally Oscar’s hair and beauty salon. If you just want to sit and let the world drift by the well-equipped library is nearby, stretch out in one of the comfortable chairs and read, perhaps even have an afternoon nap. Head out onto the open deck, take a dip in Tivoli Pool, the main swimming pool, but not today. Moving on to Raffles Court the ships buffet and La Trattoria the Italian speciality restaurant.
Decks 11, 10 and 9 are mainly staterooms of various categories from inside no view up through balcony to opulent suites with their own dining, living and sleeping areas, however all are well furnished with a mix of single and double beds, even the lowest category equipped with flat screen tv, coffee maker, hairdryer, electrical sockets are of the 2-pin USA design so don’t forget your adaptors. For the very young, they have their own supervised area on deck 10, Charlie’s Child Care Centre and Buccaneer’s Wet and Wild.
Deck 8 is home to Stardust Theatre which extends down to the deck below and unusually is situated at the rear of the vessel. Moving forward you discover the Sushi Bar, Shogun Asian Restaurant and Teppanyaki, an area where guests sit round the large griddle whilst a trained chef cooks your dinner in front of you, performing tricks and antics with the utensils, something very different. Further forward is Champagne Charlies, jewellery shops, duty free, galleria, photo gallery and photo shop.
Deck 7 is one of the busiest areas on the ship, not only home to the lower level of the Stardust Theatre but also The Café, Grand Centrum, Reception Desk, Henry’s Pub, Blue Lagoon Café, Le Bistro, Maharajah’s Casino, Maharini’s Lounge and Nightclub whilst the 2 main dining rooms, Windows and The Garden Room are on deck 6. Whilst onboard was an opportunity to sample the main dining room food at lunchtime. A table in Windows Restaurant was well laid out and as soon as being seated a smartly dressed waiter presented the menu and took my wine order. The menu was excellent offering a choice of 8 starters, 4 entrées, 4 sandwiches and burgers and 4 desserts, what a choice for lunch!! My choice, Atlantic chowder with broiled salmon, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions and carrots, very tasty, as a main, shrimp burger on a pretzel bun accompanied by crispy onions and curley fries, to finish, the most delicious roasted peach in a lime blanc manger topped with chopped crystallised almonds all washed down with a very acceptable chilled white wine.
Next year Norwegian Spirit goes into dry dock for the biggest makeover and refurbishment any NCL have undergone, I can’t wait to see the result. So, who would this ship appeal to, very much to the traditional cruiser, someone who enjoys beautiful wood panelling exuding an air of quality, large tastefully furnished lounges offering panoramic views, many categories of well-equipped staterooms, good food and much more. Having said that, with a choice of 6 restaurants, 5 speciality restaurants, 8 bars and lounges plus 9 entertainment and activity centres, added to which, some truly wonderful itineraries stretching across the globe, who would it not appeal to!
Alan was a guest of Norwegian Cruise Lines.