The mid-sized Norwegian Spirit sails from Venice on its very popular Grand Mediterranean itinerary.Norwegian Spirit – a 12-day Grand Mediterranean voyage from Venice to Barcelona Peter & Beverley Kerr March 31, 2017 9270 Rated by Cruise Critic as “the best mid-sized ship for value and money”, our cruise was a memorable living history lesson; including Venice, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Athens, Mykonos, Naples, Rome, Florence, Toulon and Barcelona This 12-day Mediterranean itinerary offered by Norwegian Cruise Lines is arguably one of the best voyages for people who want to visit historic Mediterranean destinations. Many of these once dominant city states are the crucibles of our Western civilization. Democracy and philosophy from ancient Greece, engineering from the Roman Empire, and more recent cultural traditions and innovation in the arts, cuisine and fashion are all memorable features of this Grand Mediterranean itinerary. And of course – there is the important religious aspect of travelling to Rome, the seat of ‘modern’ Christianity. There are churches and cathedrals in every city; from a small fifty-seat chapel in Sorrento to the magnificence of St. Peter’s in the Vatican City. A map of the 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary Our 12-day cruise started in Venice, and after a day at sea, we sailed up a fjord to the postcard worthy port of Kotor in Montenegro, followed the next day by the fascinating Dubrovnik before another relaxing day at sea before landing in Piraeus, the port city for Athens. After an educational and busy day in Athens, we spent a relaxing day at the beach on Mykonos, before another sun-filled day at sea. Our trip up the Italian coastline took us to Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), and Florence (Livorno) before arriving at the French Riviera coastal town of Toulon, and then onto Barcelona where we disembarked. Many of our fellow guests included pre and/or post cruise packages with their holiday; and we recommend that you give this serious consideration. The Norwegian Spirit then visits the same ports in reverse order during the spring, summer and fall; with periodic alternate 10 and 11 day Mediterranean itineraries. The most frequent route is the 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary. During the winter months she sails a southern route from Barcelona to Casablanca before continuing on to ports in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Spain. After sailing up a fjord in Montenegro, The Spirit docks in the medieval town of Kotor In addition to boomer couples like us; this itinerary is popular with families with teenagers. We spoke with many parents who wanted their children to see places like The Acropolis in Athens, the canals and artistry of Venice, the many wonders of Rome, the spectacular beauty of the Amalfi coast, and the simple elegance of the small French coastal city of Toulon, a short drive from the Principality of Monaco. History and European culture are made real for all age groups. With approximately 2,000 passengers and a 900+ crew, The Norwegian Spirit is a mid-sized ship by today’s standards, and she is able to dock in smaller ports such as Kotor in Montenegro, Dubrovnik in Croatia, and Mykonos in Greece. Launched in 1998 as part of Norwegian’s sister company Star Cruises, The Spirit was designed to cater to a wealthy Asian clientele, and you’ll see a lot of wood panelling, high-end decor and finishing. Hotel Director Carlos Dinis noted; “We’re very proud that we received a rare perfect score from the US Coast Guard and the US Department of Public Health in November 2015 and again in March 2016. We don’t know when or where the inspectors will come aboard; and their inspections and crew interviews are very rigorous. After brief conversations with the Captain, me, and some other senior officers, the inspectors spend most of their time visiting all corners of the ship and interviewing individual crew members. The Coast Guard arrives with six inspectors, and they cover the ship from the top deck down to the engine room. To achieve that exceptional rating twice within six months is an achievement that the entire crew is proud of.” Le Bistro is our favourite specialty restaurant on NCL ships The Spirit has 11 restaurants, and guests enjoy the flexibility of Freestyle dining. Pre-set dining times are a thing of the past onboard NCL ships. One of the biggest differences is that each meal is cooked to order, as in any fine restaurant. You can just show up when you want, or make reservations; the choice is yours. Large screen TV monitors provide information about the occupancy level of the different restaurants and approximate waiting times on the occasions when one is at capacity. Reservations are recommended for the immensely popular specialty restaurants that include Le Bistro (one of our enduring favourites on board all NCL ships), Cagney’s Steakhouse, La Trattoria (Italian), Sushi (Japanese) and Tappanyaki. The specialty restaurants also have modest A-La-Carte pricing, taking into consideration that your cruise fare already includes meals. The elegant Windows Restaurant There are two main dining rooms, Windows and Garden. Befitting its name, Windows has three massive two-storey windows forming the back wall of this elegant dining room. The Garden Dining Room has a similar decor and both share the same kitchen and varied menu. The menu is in two parts, one offering different selections every evening, and the other offering traditional favourites. Low sodium items are identified. The dress code on Norwegian Cruise Line ships is resort casual, but the main dining rooms, Le Bistro and Cagney’s also provide an opportunity for guests to ‘dress up’. NCL has replaced ‘Formal Night’ with the more inviting ‘Norwegian Night Out’, beginning with the Captain’s Welcome champagne reception in The Grand Atrium. There are multiple excursions for each port, and we recommend attending the informative port excursion presentations to assist in making your selections. The certified local guides bring history to life with their commentary, adding to the appreciation, understanding and the historical significance the monuments, cities and countryside we visited. We liked our balcony suite, but thought you’d like to see a Penthouse Suite We booked a well-appointed balcony stateroom and enjoyed arriving in port while sipping our morning coffee. We had ample room for a sitting area, desk, flat screen TV, coffee maker, minibar fridge, plenty of closet and drawer space and individual reading lights. For families, The Spirit has over 300 adjoining balcony cabins. She also has luxurious penthouse suites, one-bedroom suites and two owners’ suites; all of which come with added perks and concierge service. Deck seven and its soaring Grand Centrium is the centre of activity. Guest services on Deck 7 include the main reception desk, Shore Excursion Desk, Henry’s Pub (an authentic English pub), Le Bistro Restaurant, Cagney’s Steakhouse, The Blue Lagoon, Maharajah’s Casino and the Stardust Theatre at the aft. Unlike many newer ships, The Spirit has an exterior wooden promenade on Deck 7 that continues around the entire deck. The Grand Centrium on Deck 7 is the focal point of the ship Onboard shopping, the duty free shop and the photo gallery are on Deck 8, connecting to Deck 7 with a grand staircase. Champagne Charlie’s is a very popular intimate bar offering nightly entertainment with alternating solo and small combo performers. The Buccaneer Wet & Wild water-park and pool for kids and teens is located on Deck 10 at the aft of the ship; as is the area reserved for Splash Academy for children up to 12. Teens have their own club called Entourage, and they have their own very cool Teen Celebrity clubhouse on Deck 13. Decks 11, 12 and 13 are action-central for outdoor activities, including the Tivoli Pool, performance stage, lounge chairs, The Bier Garten Grill, the basketball court, golf driving net, jogging track, and quiet sunning areas. Three Officers on the Norwegian Spirit Captain Roger Gustavsun Hotel Director Carlos Dinis Cruise Director David Klooster The Mandara Spa and Fitness Centre are located in the forward section of Deck 12, as are the Internet Cafe (Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship), Library, Card Room, Oscar’s Hair & Beauty Salon, steam and sauna rooms. Also in the forward section The Galaxy of Stars lounge is a popular bar and meeting place. During the day the floor-to-ceiling lounge windows make it an ideal location to watch The Spirit approach and depart the ports. It was a fine vantage point to watch our night-time passage through the narrow strait between Sicily and the ‘toe’ of the Italian coast. Entertainment continues to be one of Norwegian Cruise Lines many strengths. We’ve sailed with numerous cruise lines, and the calibre of onboard performers and guest entertainers is outstanding on The Spirit. Cruise Director David Klooster explained; “The company has moved all the production of our main stage shows in-house; into a massive studio and training facility in Tampa. That’s where we conceive, rehearse and stage our shows before they ever move onto the ships. We know that some form of Broadway song presentations will always be popular. In addition to our big show, we’ve discovered that our Broadway Cabaret with just the vocalists and a piano player has been a success. We also recognize that we have whole new generations sailing with us, and they enjoy hearing the music they grew up with, like rock ‘n’ roll, classic rock and rhythm and blues. We have Cirque-inspired shows that take a tremendous amount of preparation, from conception to sets, costumes and of course the acrobats, singers, dancers and musicians.” David earned a Master’s Degree before working as a dancer for twelve years, and he has a good understanding of an entertainer’s life. “We’ve been given creative input into what type of entertainment works best on our ship. Of course we have the major shows developed in Tampa, but we do have a say with our talent agency who books the guest entertainers.” “Most guests are in contact with the Cruise Director’s staff, from attending one of our shows in the Stardust Theatre to one of our deck parties or even a Bingo session. The crew and our staff are what make a memorable and happy cruise experience for our guests.” The Norwegian Spirit is unique within the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet; her mid-size enables her to dock in smaller ports like Kotor in Montenegro, Mykonos and Toulon. The exceptionally high ratings from the US Coast Guard and US Department of Public Health reflect the leadership of the officers and dedication of the crew to making the holiday of each passenger and family one of lasting memories. Our next door neighbours on the ship told us that they were travelling with their adult children and grandchildren; and their Grand Mediterranean Voyage on The Norwegian Spirit satisfied everyone, and was the “best holiday we’ve ever had”. Travel Planner For more information about this 12-day cruise or other European itinerary offered by Norwegian Cruise Line, please contact your travel agent or visit: www.ncl.com or call 1-866-234-7350. The Spirit alternates this itinerary with Venice and Barcelona departures. In the winter she sails a southerly route from Barcelona to the Canary Islands and Spain’s Costa del Sol. Bon Voyage! Learn about some the Norwegian Spirit Mediterranean Excursions. A view of the fascinating walled medieval city of Dubrovnik Related
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