Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

In a curious East-goes-West journey, Norwegian Spirit was originally built for the Freestyle cruising concept and launched as SuperStar Leo for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Asian parent, Genting Hong Kong Limited (formerly Star Cruises). In winter 2004, Norwegian’s fledgling Hawaiian venture nearly sank when a freakish storm filled its flagship with water while it was nearing completion in Germany. With a month’s worth of bookings and no new ship, arrangements were made to deploy a substitute in Hawaii and transfer SuperStar Leo to fill the gap left in its wake.Read More

Rechristened in spring 2004 and updated to better suit American tastes, Norwegian Spirit still retains fine examples of Asian artwork. The casino is huge, and facilities for children and teens are particularly extensive, only rivaled by the Disney Cruise Line ships and Norwegian’s own newer vessels.

Norwegian Cruise Line set sail in 1966 with an entirely new concept—regularly scheduled Caribbean cruises from the then-obscure port of Miami. Good food and friendly service combined with value fares established the line as a winner for active adults and families. Innovative and forward-looking, Norwegian has been a cruise-industry leader for decades, and its fleet is as much at home worldwide as in the Caribbean. Several of the line’s ships cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage, including one of its newest, Norwegian Bliss.

Noted for top-quality entertainment, Norwegian combines action and high-energy activities as well as a variety of dining options in a casual, free-flowing atmosphere. Norwegian’s freestyle cruising signaled an end to rigid dining schedules and dress codes. Norwegian ships now offer a host of flexible dining options that allow passengers to eat in the main dining rooms or any of a number of à la carte and specialty restaurants at any time and with whom they please. The ships’ accommodations include some of the largest suites at sea, studio cabins for solo travelers, and a private ship-within-a-ship complex called The Haven, a more luxurious area with personalized service.

From a distance, most cruise ships look so similar that it’s often difficult to tell them apart, but Norwegian’s largest, modern ships stand out with their distinctive use of hull art. Each new ship is distinguished by murals extending from bow to midship.

  • 10 passenger decks
  • 4 specialty restaurants, 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator (some), DVD (some)
  • 3 pools (2 indoor), children’s pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 8 bars, casino, dance club, library, showroom, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • dry-cleaning, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
There is a bridge-viewing gallery in the observatory lounge
You may find solitude in the library or writing room
More than 300 staterooms connect
Facilities for children are more expansive than the spa and fitness center
There are no self-service laundry facilities
Some top suites have forward-facing balconies that are too windy for use on sea days

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Cabins
Suites
Amenities
Accessibility

More than two-thirds of Norwegian Spirit‘s cabins are outside with ocean views, and more than two-thirds of those have private balconies. Cabins have adequate space, including a sitting area with sofa, chair, and table. Every cabin has closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as limited bathroom storage. Most bathrooms are compartmentalized with sink area, shower, and toilet separated by sliding glass doors.

Suites include walk-in closets and such amenities as whirlpool tubs and entertainment centers with DVD players.

Light-wood cabinetry, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a tea/coffeemaker, a personal safe, broadband Internet connection, duvets on beds, a wall-mounted hair dryer over the dressing table, and bathrobes for use during the cruise are typical standard features. Electrical outlets are designed for Asian-style 220 volts and, although there’s a 110-volt receptacle, it should be reserved for low-wattage appliances. Plug in a megawatt hair dryer, and you’ll likely get to meet a ship’s engineer because you blew out the power. Bathrooms have shampoo and bath gel in a shower-mounted dispenser.

Four interior staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

Two complimentary dining rooms serve open seating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Specialty restaurants that carry varying cover charges and require reservations include Norwegian’s signature French restaurant Le Bistro, a steak house, an Italian eatery, a Pan-Asian restaurant, a sushi and sashimi bar, and a teppanyaki room. Screens located throughout the ship illustrate the status (full to empty) and waiting time you can expect for each restaurant. Casual choices are the Lido buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Blue Lagoon for soup, sandwiches, and snacks around the clock; the poolside grill for lunch; a pizzeria; and an ice cream bar. A coffee bar serves specialty coffees and pastries priced by item. Room service is available 24 hours from a somewhat limited menu.

Entertainment

You’ll find a nice selection of bars and lounges where musicians or DJs provide dance tunes and the entertainment staff hosts Norwegian’s signature late-night parties after performances by the production company, comedians, or featured entertainers in the showroom. A traditional English-style pub features dartboards, big-screen TVs, and complimentary pub snacks.

Spa & Fitness

While the facilities aren’t as extensive as on newer ships, Mandara Spa offers a lengthy menu of massages, body wraps, and facials. A medi-spa physician is on hand to create individualized therapies. A sauna and steam room are available to all at no charge.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
1999
Number of Cabins
1,009
Passenger Capacity
2,018(2,475 max)
Crew Members
949
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.13
Gross Tons
75338
Width
105 feet
Length
881 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/436–4000 or 800/327–7030

Explore More Ships in this Line

Explore More Mainstream Cruise Lines

COVID-19 Travel Updates