Jan 20, 2014

Cruising with the Cotés: The Norwegian Spirit

You guys know how big a fan I am of cruising. 3 sailings in one year? We are cruising crazy! If you would have told me before moving to Europe that I'd love sailing on a giant vessel, margarita in hand and the world at my fingertips, I would have told you...WHAT THE HECK ARE WE WAITING FOR! Let's set sail! Sounds like pure bliss, right? When you cruise with the right cruise lines and on the right ships, cruises can be some of the greatest vacations of your life. I'm living proof of that. Our first cruise last May with Celebrity kicked the cruise-fever off...but our last cruise of 2013 on the Norwegian Spirit really solidified my love for sailing the open seas on a floating hotel.

For the purposes of becoming a well-rounded cruise connoisseurs, we decided to forgo our beloved Celebrity Cruises and see what it was like sailing with Norwegian Cruise Lines. We got super lucky with the 9-day Canary Island itinerary (as it was called...even though we never ended up getting to the Canary Islands, but that's a story to come). Not only would we be checking 3 new countries off our list, but we were going to sail on the  Norwegian Spirit, one of Norwegian Cruise Line's most popular mid-sized ships! The 2,018 passenger, 13-deck Norwegian Spirit was originally named SuperStar Leo (of Star Cruises) and launched in 1998 for sailings around Asia. Eventually, the SuperStar Leo was acquired by Norwegian, was renamed the "Norwegian Spirit" in 2004, and was partially refurbished in 2008. Throughout the ship today, you'll still find much of the Asian-inspired decor, but the Spirit has been updated to include 11 restaurants, eight bars/lounges, and many family-friendly features. The Norwegian Spirit has all the amenities of an ultra-luxe ship with a very modest price point...precisely what excited us most about our decision to sail with Norwegian. Another great feature? Norwegian Freestyle Cruising. This style of cruising allows you to have the freedom to enjoy your vacation on your own terms. No set dining times, no assigned dining tables, relaxed dress codes, and more complimentary dining options than on any other ship we've sailed on. While we did miss having a set waiter every night (we love building relationships with the staff), we did LOVE not having formal nights and being able to choose when we wanted to dine. If we were tired from a long day exploring in port, we'd take a quick nap and dine a bit later that night! The Freestyle Cruising concept helped to make our vacation super relaxing and less rushed. Another reason why Norwegian really sparked our interest!

So, let's go on a little tour of the Norwegian Spirit, shall we?
[It's a long tour...so hang on!]


After touring Barcelona (where our fabulous cruise departed from), we hopped aboard the Spirit around noon after a super smooth check-in process. As with most cruise ships, staterooms aren't ready the second you step onboard...so while you wait, they do allow you wander around the vessel to explore your floating home. Each restaurant, pool, entertainment center, and bar is open for the viewing...and the buffet restaurant is usually already serving up hot food and allowing guests to grab a bite to eat in between independent touring sessions. Of course, one would be silly to miss an opportunity to photograph the ship void of dozens of guests, so we set out to see what all the Norwegian Spirit had to offer.

Deck 13- Home to the Bier Garten (a German-inspired bar, how appropriate!), the running track, the helicopter pad (which doubled as a sweet place to catch some sun in your lounge chair), the Celebrity Disco (teenage club), and a basketball court. I'm sure you can guess which one of these amenities we used the most! :)




Deck 12- Tivoli Pool (spent lots of time there!), Roman Spa & Fitness Center (got myself a nice massage & a few workouts in), Galaxy of the Stars Lounge (where lots of nightly parties and entertainment took place), Captain's Bridge (where all the important ship driving stuff went down), Raffles Court Buffet & Terrace, and La Trattoria specialty restaurant (we never ate there).



Deck 11- Mostly staterooms. This is the deck where our balcony room was located! It was nice being so close to the pool and buffet. You'd think it would be loud, but we never heard a peep from inside those walls! 



Deck 10Home to more staterooms, the childcare center, the arcade, and a little kiddy water play area called Buccaneer's Wet & Wild. Deck 9 was all staterooms, so it's safe to say we never went there.


Deck 8- While this deck also had staterooms, it was also the location of the Stardust Theater (where nightly shows took place), Champagne Charlie's (a fun piano bar overlooking the atrium where we played lots of cards & cruise games), the Photo Gallery, the Galleria Shops, and the Shogun Asian specialty restaurant/teppanyaki/sushi bar (we ate at the Teppanyaki station for my late birthday celebration--yum!).



Deck 7- Home to Maharajah's Casino, Maharini's Nightclub/Lounge, Le Bistro French specialty restaurant (ate here---fancy, fancy!), Henry's pub, Shanghai Bar, Blue Lagoon Cafe (burger and fry cafe), Coffee Cafe, the ground floor of the Atrium, Cagney's Steakhouse specialty restaurant (at here for a friends birthday--really good!), and Guest Relations.



Deck 6- The Garden Room restaurant (smaller version of the main dining room), Windows Main Dining Room & more staterooms. Decks 5 & 4 are reserved for staterooms and the medical center. Lower decks are for crew.





Beautiful ship, right? We sure thought so! We were pleasantly surprised at how much we loved sailing with Norwegian and aboard the Norwegian Spirit. The food, the service, the wonderful accommodations, staff, and plethora of entertainment & dining options really sold us on the Norwegian way of cruising. I'd highly recommend booking a cruise with Norwegian! We can't wait to try a Caribbean sailing with them in years to come!
Stay tuned for port recaps from Morocco, Portugal, and more from sunny Spain!

32 comments:

  1. Cruises are the absolute best vacation. You don't have to do anything but relax!

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  2. No Canary Islands? What the what? Can't wait to hear about that! This post made me excited for our cruise. T-minus 27 days...not that I'm counting or anything :)

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  3. Yay! We are headed out on this cruise on this boat in a few months! Thank you for sharing! I'll be watching your posts as they come in!

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    1. I'm so excited for you!!! You're going to have a blast!!

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  4. This looks amazing!
    I am going on my first cruise in June, and I can't wait!

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  5. I so want to go on a cruise vacation! Looks like you guys had a wonderful time!

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    1. Do it, do it! One of the best vacations we've been on! :)

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  6. Ship looks amazing Casey! Can't wait to read more.

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    1. Doesn't it?! Very chic ship. Can't wait to share more from our adventure!

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  7. It seems like you always get a balcony room, is that from picking that or working your blogger magic into an upgrade? Would you recommend a balcony over an inside room (like is it worth it)?

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  8. I'm so jealous! I've been wanting to go on a cruise for years - I am looking at saving for one next summer!! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. You're so welcome! I hope you're able to do one soon…they're really fun! :)

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  9. Fun! My dad used to be the head chef of a norwegian cruise ship (and disney at a different time) and my sister and i did the Hawaii island cruise with NCL! Definitely a fun time :)

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  10. amazing pictures! i have never tried freestyle cruising before but always wanted to :)

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    1. Thank you, Diana! Freestyle cruising was so nice! Not having to be as worried about what time you had to be ready for dinner or how fancy your outfit should be was so refreshing!

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  11. i sailed in the bahamas a year ago on Norwegian! it was great! your ship seems a lot nicer than ours! i am going on a caribbean cruise on my honeymoon in 3 weeks on royal caribbean! i can't wait! i'll be sure to give a review for how it is! have you ever sailed with royal?
    laurenofthedoxey.blogspot.com

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  12. We have only cruised with Carnival and will be again in November but we are looking into NCL for a cruise to Alaska within the next two years! This post definitely helped! The ship is beautiful!

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  13. My boyfriend and I are going on a European cruise on Norwegian Cruise line later this year, I'm so excited. This all looks so wonderful, glad you enjoyed your trip!

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  14. I've always been so iffy on cruises, but this ship looks nice. I don't know if I'll be singing up for one anytime soon, but thanks for sharing.

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    1. Always happy to share! And I feel ya…we never would have started cruising if it wasn't for all the different places you get to see all in one vacation. But now that we've done a few of them, I can't quit! They're such fun vacations! :)

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  15. This makes me want to go on a cruise SO BAD. I wonder if I can find a good Asian itinerary one... who am I kidding? I bet I can.

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  16. Oh every time I read your blog you've been somewhere more amazing than the last place! I've been wanting to go on a cruise for a while now...this has really made me think it would be a great idea!

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    1. We do love getting around! Haha! You absolutely should go on a cruise! They're so much fun…and you get to see lots of places all in one vacation. :)

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  17. I mean really, you two have seen more places than most people in this entire world. I am so insanely jealous...but so happy that you guys have gotten to explore to some of the most gorg places on the planet!! I have never been on a cruise...but this one...I could dream of!!

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  18. Oh, this cruise just looked like bliss - I have only been on a very small cruise ship when I went to Egypt, nothing this luxurious. This is something I would love to do in the future - the food alone is reason to do this trip! Yum!

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  19. We have decided that the next time we go on a cruise, we're getting a balcony. That view looks amazing!

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  20. I am daydreaming looking at these photos hahahha…. Such a wonderful cruise. I love to try this too someday.

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    1. Hahaha daydream away, my friend! You and me both! I so wish I was on a ship right now! :)

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  21. I can't wait to hear about your cruise!

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  22. I LOVE cruising! Thankfully my third Carnival cruise sailed just BEFORE the great Carnival catastrophes (Re: Triumph), but we are still open to cruising in the future. If only other cruise lines would sail from the Gulf Coast...

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I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

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