NCL Renewed Spirit

Technically she’s not brand new but with a $100 million dollar facelift you could fool me. You might not recognize the reimagined Norwegian Spirit and you can forget the old saying beauty’s only skin deep, because this striking gal is gorgeous to the core. It’s a textbook case of what money will do to you.

Initially joining the NCL fleet in 2004 the ship quickly became a gem that earned a stellar reputation. Sixteen years later and never one to be afraid of change, NCL took on an impressive makeover prior to the pandemic. With a tweak, tweak here add a restaurant there, here a lounge, there a bar, everywhere a new room she’s reincarnated with all the bells and whistles of a new ship.

For the third time in two years I decided to experience another Norwegian Cruise Line sailing. They had previously delivered considerable bang for the buck on a recent Mexican Riviera cruise and served up exciting destinations on a Mediterranean itinerary. This time I went for something more exotic with a repositioning cruise from Tahiti to Hawaii but that’s for later in this saga. The brightest spotlight was on the ship itself.

This unprecedented renewal went far beyond the comprehensive transformation of every stateroom and suite, creating touch points of contemporary design. Sailing as the smallest ship in the NCL fleet with a capacity of just over 2,000 guests, it’s an ideal size offering the essential elements of larger vessels but small enough to retain a significant sense of intimacy.

The central pool deck is spacious enough on its own but adding to outdoor elbow room is the fabulous restructured amphitheater style pool area at the stern. In addition to multiple decks of lounge chairs with plenty of shade, you can also enjoy meals from the adjacent Garden Cafe while overlooking the pool and ocean from the comfort of table seating.

Spinnaker Lounge

The Spinnaker Lounge is perhaps the most striking of the public rooms. Trendy furnishings adorn the room with a wall of windows providing splendid views of the passing scenery during the day. At night it comes to life with dancing and music by a high energy house band playing every genre of music imaginable.

Speaking of music, each unique lounge offers a variety of entertaining artists. Henry’s Pub features a guitar player and vocalist playing all of your favorites and Magnums has easy listening vocals and piano bar music creating a suave atmosphere for specialty cocktails. The multi deck Atrium is a convivial gathering area with live music combined with the functional convenience of the adjacent reception/guest services and even a Starbucks coffee bar.

The hallmark quality of NCL entertainment is in the spotlight each night with choreographed production shows and high energy guest entertainers in the Stardust Theater. Well deserved kudos go out for the thoughtful design of this exceptional venue with unfettered sight lines, comfortable offset seating and an excellent sound and light system.


NCL has successfully navigated the previously unchartered territory of dining when and where you like with their stroke of genius Freestyle Cruising concept. The undeniable attribute and irreversible trend in the cruise world has been retained in ten diverse eateries aboard the ‘Spirit’. Variety may be the spice of life but it is also a key ingredient in a sure fire recipe for enhanced dining.

The main dining rooms Windows and Taste provide full service international cuisine while the Garden Cafe is the come as you like, when you like buffet serving up breakfasts and themed lunches and dinners. Sushi and Asian fusion dishes are prepared in Silk, French cuisine in El Bistro and Cagneys is the place for prime steakhouse fare. The newly added Onda by Scarpetta is a must for lovers of refined Italian gastronomy. The Bier Garden and Poolside grill provide convenient alfresco quick bites and The Local is one of the coolest ideas to come along as a complimentary 24 hour eatery catering to after hours munchies.

You Make Me Feel Brand New

With multi millions focused on the ship’s new image, NCL didn’t forget about the most important element of cruising, YOU! The upgraded Mandara Spa has everything needed for personal renewal as trained therapists work their magic with a plethora of contemporary massage options, facials and skin rejuvenations. A certified acupuncturist treats every condition imaginable and the secluded thermal suite is a sanctuary of respite with heated loungers, sauna and steam room.

If you’ve scrolled through lists of engaging itineraries, the NCL fleet seems to be everywhere but if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary the NCL Spirit covers the vast span of the Pacific Ocean plus the beautiful Inside Passage of Alaska and winters spent down under in Australia and New Zealand. Given my personal propensity for days at sea there’s nothing like the ship’s spring and fall repositioning cruises. Blending relaxing days at sea with exotic port calls in Hawaii, Tahiti and French Polynesia I’m all in.

The transformation of the ship is remarkable and after a 12 day cruise from Papeete to Honolulu, I’m calling it a comeback although it never really went away. You might call it a reinvention or transformation but regardless how you frame it, it’s a new spirit, specifically NCL’s Norwegian Spirit.

As a former Cruise Director, Steve has been cruising the world for the past forty years. Bringing a new dimension to cruise journalism, he continues to spin the globe searching for off the grid cruise adventures and unplugged destinations to share with Porthole Cruise Magazine readers.