Cruise Review – 11 Day Mediterranean Cruise – Norwegian Spirit – Day 1

This cruise for me was a symbolic restart. The day before I left Canada for Italy, I received my final divorce papers. The last time I sailed on the Norwegian Spirit was on my honeymoon, about 12 years to the day of boarding her this time. Getting onboard was like an ultimate “letting go” for me, new cruise, new memories, fresh start… In the Med (and Italy) of all places ๐Ÿ˜‰

I chose this cruise for the amazing itinerary, that’s the one thing I find NCL does really well. Here was the itinerary for my sailing:

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Day 1 – Civitavecchia (Rome) – Embarkation Day

I woke up crazy early again (4:30am) as I still hadn’t got quite acquainted to the time zone in Rome, did my last walk around to Trevi Fountain and had my last coffee (espresso) near Spanish Steps. One thing about being an early riser in Rome is that you have most of these amazing places to yourself. Headed back to the Hotel de Petris, checked out and ordered a cab around 10:30am. Of all the personal research I’ve done, taking a train to Civitavecchia from Rome was actually the most cost effective option. It’s about 80 kilometres outside of Rome, so taxis are horribly expensive. The one way on the express train was โ‚ฌ16 per person. Trains are efficient and run on time (in most cases).

Buying tickets at Termini was an experience. I was approached by someone trying to “help” out, however my senses were screaming “don’t trust her” and “watch your bags”, I knew this was some type of scam. I told her “no grazie” several times and then physically kind of body checked her gently out of my way, blocking her from the ticketing kiosk. She got the point then and moved on to another set of tourists. In this situation, it’s best to look like you know what you’re doing, if you have no idea how to buy tickets through the kiosks, just go stand in line at the ticketing counter. With luggage securely in front of me, I purchased my ticket from the ticket kiosk and headed for Civitavecchia.

The train was pretty quick, it’s about an hour journey (90 minutes by car, so the train is faster). Once at the station I’ll give you a heads up. There are no elevators if you are dropped off on one of the centre platforms. Its stairs down into the corridor, then stairs up to exit the station. There are rumours that they are working on this, however everyone else is in the same boat, so cruise passengers I think tend to help each other. I know I did. Once at the station, head into the small convenience store attached to the station and get a ticket for the shuttle bus to the terminal, it was โ‚ฌ2 per person, however just ask if they are actually running when you buy and not on a siesta like they were when I arrived. If that’s the case, there are several vans just outside the station touting rides for โ‚ฌ5 per person, this was my choice, I was done waiting in the hot sun. Ride to the terminal was quick, just over a mile away, it probably is walkable, maybe 20 minutes walk from the train station, however with luggage I thought it would be too much work in 42C heat haha. Once at the terminal (more like a bus stop), you file into lines for your cruise ship and board another bus to the actual cruise terminal that your ship is docked at (this is free from this point to the ship).

Once at the cruise ship terminal, you walk your bags into the drop off area, then into the check in area. Another quick tip for you is to take a photo of your luggage before you hand it over (I do this for flights as well), if something does wrong and you luggage goes MIA or gets damaged, you can at least provide an exact photo of your luggage and in what condition it was handed over in. As they were already boarding the ship by the time I arrived, the check in line was super quick. Just a note about passports, they do keep them for safe keeping from this point onwards (it was Day 9 when I got mine back), however I always have a photocopy kept on me of my passport (and another photo of my passport on my phone in case that one goes missing), but I could see how this could make some worried, it’s just standard procedure. There she was, the Norwegian Spirit!

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Once onboard, the rooms were ready, so I headed up to mine (balcony cabin 9052) to find it filled with goodies. As I am a travel agent (a certified Norwegian Cruise Specialist) and sell quite a bit of Norwegian, my NCL Business Development Manager added some goodies to my file, which are called Partners First perks. I essentially was upgraded to the same benefits as a suite guest and then some. My room was filled will welcome gifts (2 bottles of sparking wine, 1 bottle of red wine, 2 trays of chocolate covered strawberries and a fruit basket) from the Hotel Director, Concierge and Group Services Coordinator. I could totally get used to this! I was slightly regretting not getting a beverage package before leaving for the cruise, but that feeling melted away very quickly.

Norwegian Spirit Cabin 9052

I then did a walk around the ship to get reacquainted and ended up settling on lunch at Raffles (the buffet area). After lunch, it was back to the room to unpack and settle in before the Muster Drill at 4:00pm. After muster and a few glasses of sparkling wine on my balcony later, I attended the Spa Raffle (didn’t win anything this time) then relaxed in Galaxy of the Stars (the forward facing lounge) for sail away, it was so nice and quiet in the lounge (I think most people were either at dinner or at the sail away party on the pool deck). I was exhausted, so decided to actually call it a night.

Here are the “dailies” for Day 1 (Embarkation Day):

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Next up… Day 2 – Livorno (Florence)…

Norwegian Pearl – 1 Night Repositioning Cruise

Back in June I was given the opportunity to sign up for a one night repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Pearl on September 25th, which I totally jumped on! The cruise left Seattle, WA and travelled to Vancouver, BC. To get to Seattle, I took the Amtrak train from Vancouver. The train ride was very relaxing, and going through White Rock it really gave a different view. Usually I’m walking along the pier watching the trains go by, this time I was on it ๐Ÿ™‚ By Amtrak it is a 4 hour journey from the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver to the King Street Station in Seattle. The train does have priority, so we only had to wait a couple times briefly for a cargo train to finish passing. Once I got to Seattle, it was a $8.40 USD cab ride to Pier 66 where the Norwegian Pearl was docked. I arrived at the pier at 11:30am, checked in, waited 5 minutes then we were boarding the ship. They did say that the rooms were quite not ready when we entered the main atrium, however mine was. I was assigned a balcony stateroom (10586), Category BA. The NCL Pearl is going into dry dock February 2017, I’m going to be honest, it needs it. The carpets in the staterooms are quite loud, it’s currently a colour ย theme that fits the Caribbean, not necessarily anywhere else haha. The bed was quite comfortable, bathroom is quite small. The Pearl has a coffeemaker in the room, great for coffee on the balcony in the morning. I was hoping to take a look at a room service menu (as I heard that NCL started charging for room service on some items) however I couldn’t find one in my room, possibly because it was just a short cruise.

After settling in a little bit, I went to the Summer Palace to eat lunch. This is the main dining room on Deck 6 at the very back of the ship. It’s definitely starting to look a little tired. However the food and service was excellent. I had a Caesar Salad to start, followed by a delicious burger and a peanut butter cup chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Did I mention the food was good? After lunch I explored the rest of the ship. The Starlight Theater was beautiful and I can’t say enough great things about the Mandara Thermal Suite (except for a customer service issue at the end). The sauna has an amazing view! If you are ever on this ship, it is a must do, the saunas are part of the female/male only areas which for me is an even bigger plus. I really loved the heated mosaic loungers, the only downside is that they are not facing the windows as I’ve experienced on other ships. The outdoor areas have lots of deck space, the back of the ship has a rock climbing wall and a huge multi sport area. The promenade deck has oversized checkers, chess and shuffleboard. There are so many lounges onboard, having a drink while listening to live music is always an option. The “sail away party” was held midship at the Tahitian Pool, great atmosphere and enjoyed sailing out of Seattle with the daily drink special of a Long Island Iced Tea ($7.95 plus 18% gratuity). It was strong! Thank goodness there are free drink stations around the ship, I refilled mine with regular iced tea and made my drink last about three times over.

After the sail away party, I headed to the Thermal Suite for some relaxation before dinner. It was so nice watching the sunset from this area of this ship. Afterwards, I headed back to my room, took some more sunset photos from my balcony and got ready for dinner. The only main dining room open tonight was the Summer Palace again, Indigo was closed for this cruise. The food was good, I had a bit of a chill so the French onion soup and fried brie starters took my chill off, followed by steak frites and a raspberry chocolate torte for dessert! After dinner, they had live entertainment in Spinnakers Lounge, there wasn’t enough people onboard to use the Starlight Theater, which I understand. The entertainment was great! What you would expect from a live cruise ship show. By this time the shops downstairs did open and I bought myself a couple shot glasses and my cruise ship magnet ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a crazy busy day so after shopping I went to bed and had an amazing sleep! I woke up briefly to cruising under the Lions Gate Bridge and docking ever so gently at Canada Place. I fell back asleep for another hour and enjoyed the view of downtown Vancouver from my balcony. I did have breakfast at the Garden Cafรฉ Buffet, there were quite a few great choices and pretty good coffee. The one issue I did have was they charged me for the spa, when I had a free pass. Apparently this happened to a few other guests and they simply handed us a card to contact guest relations off the ship. Kind of disappointed that they didn’t handle it onboard, especially as the agents were quite rude to the customers next to me. Didn’t leave the ship with the greatest memory, but it was a pretty good trip overall. I’ll definitely sail with NCL again and hoping they sort out the spa pass issue soon ๐Ÿ™‚

I love cruising and can’t wait until my next full voyage!

Cruising is certainly my happy place! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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