NCL Freestyle on the Spirit. You will enjoy this ship, no matter what your age. The Spirit exudes "energy" and gorgeous Asian decor. The ship is very beautiful - a very Asian feel - art everywhere, full sized Terra Cotta Soldiers and Samurai Warriors line the halls leading to specialty restaurants. Art is displayed in every staircase landing. The highlight of the 6 story atrium is the grand piano on the first landing of the double curved grand staircase, surrounded by fountains, greenery and glass elevators. The first balcony has a champagne bar and a few duty free shops. There is a very elegant feel to the Spirit - nothing glitzy.
Leaving from NYC... of course will attract many from NY, NJ, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Many Asians were on board. Is it because the ship leaves from NYC, home to many of them, or because it was originally designed and built for the Japanese sector? A surprising number of families were on this cruise, even though school was in session, since "kids" sailed free on this particular week. Quite a few passengers from Canada and few Europeans were also enjoying this cruise.
Everyone seemed excited to be on vacation and they all took part in many activities, excursions, pool games, trivia, gambling, bingo, dancing—they wanted to do it all, making the cruise very exciting with a high level of energy.
Dining and public rooms are concentrated on decks 6, 7 and 8, making it easy to find your way around. Levels 11, 12 and 13 were for pool, fitness, sports and kid's club. This was also the area for the after midnight crowd with the Galaxy Lounge and Disco. Rooms were of average size - about 172 sq. ft. The balcony rooms can only accommodate three passengers - I found them comfortable for two - would be crowded for three, but many were connecting rooms. The interior rooms can sleep four with upper bunks and five with an extra cot......but boy they sure do look messy and crowded with that many in such a small space. The bathrooms are interesting in that they have three compartments with sliding glass doors. I've written another entry on the rooms.
The gym area is smaller than on many ships, but well attended— mostly treadmills and a few weight machines. Many classes and seminars are presented throughout the day, about 40% of them have a surcharge of $11.50 per session. The sports deck was always busy on days at sea with basketball players and golfers perfecting their swing. Golf clubs are left by the cages and you just practice as you want - no fuss with reserving time and signing out equipment. Adjacent to the gym is the very serene spa with it's aroma therapies and great views. Have your hair and nails done there too. The brochure rate for treatments is quite high, but if you're willing to wait, lots of specials come up each day. Embarkation day bookings provide a discount and days in port always had less expensive options. If you are a repeat guest, your "Latitudes" card will save you a little.
Freestyle dining is great—decide day by day when and where you wish to eat. You can make advance reservations or take your chances last minute. There is a board that is updated with info on how long the wait is at each restaurant—you will be given a beeper so that you can wander around rather than wait in line. We made a few advance reservations but on many days just called late afternoon or early in the evening and could easily get a reservation and our ship was full. The is a very limited room service menu but the Blue Lagoon; a small casual pub-like restaurant, has food available 24 hours a day. We especially liked their wings and wonton soup, almost to the point of having an everyday snack. Windows dining room is quite formal and one of the most beautiful restaurants afloat. A different theme is featured each night. The dinner buffet on the pool deck also changes daily. Lunch buffet does get monotonous after a few days with rotisserie chicken being the daily carved me