If you’re a UK resident and you feel the feel the need for a short break, then Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced something that’s a little bit off the wall, and just a little bit different from the mainstream.
During the autumn, winter and spring, the elegant, oriental themed Norwegian Spirit is offering several eight and nine day cruises, sold as a round trip from Barcelona. But the line is now also allowing the option of booking a tasty little two night ‘sampler’ cruise, sailing between Malaga and Barcelona, and at some very agreeable prices, too.
The day between the two ports is spent at sea; an ideal opportunity to experience the considerable charm and style of this very distinctive ship, with her gorgeous, Roman styled pool on the upper decks, and a central, rectangular atrium lobby that is easily one of the most beautiful of any ships afloat anywhere.
In terms of decor, the Norwegian Spirit is very different to her fleet mates, being suffused with a rich, deep, oriental style- a hangover from her early days as the Superstar Leo. That point made, she boasts many of the signature Norwegian amenities, such as Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. The showroom is a lovely space that faces aft.
Cabins are not the biggest, but they are more than adequate, and come equipped with all the normal facilities. With the prices being so reasonable, you might want to consider springing for a balcony room. These are slightly larger, and they also give you your own small, private, window on the world.
The ship is distinguished by some wonderfully curved, stepped terrace decks at the stern, that cascade down towards the children’s play area. And, at 78,000 tons, she feels more intimate. The layout of the ship is actually pretty easy to find your way around.
Other facilities include an open air, upper deck bier keller, an extensive, opulently indulgent spa, and a beautifully atmospheric main restaurant- Windows on The World– that flaunts a full wall of floor to ceiling glass windows across the stern. The ship’s disco looks like nothing less than a Maharajah’s harem, while the casino is possibly the most opulent I have ever seen on a ship.
And, of course, if you have a latent curiosity about the ship, this is an ideal way to sample her without breaking the bank. Equally, if you have never cruised Norwegian before, and are curious to see if the whole Freestyle concept works for you, then this is also worth a look.
Of course you’ll have to arrange your own flights and transfers, but this is hardly rocket science. Easyjet offers good, competitive fares to both Malaga and Barcelona from a range of UK airports, while British Airways also offers a fairly comprehensive, reasonably priced series of connections via a string of regional hubs.
From Malaga Airport, you can take the metro into the city centre, and then grab a cab (around ten euros) to the ship. In Barcelona, the metro again runs to the airport, and there are cheap airport buses that take you from the city centre as well. Or you can take a taxi from port to airport for around twenty five euros. Be aware; if flying Easyjet out of Barcelona, the terminal is set a little way away from the main terminals. Actually, this can work out for the best. Barcelona Airport is a well renowned rugby scrum at best.
I did this trip in April of 2013, and it was an absolute treat. Especially when book ended with a pre and post cruise overnight hotel stay in both Malaga and Barcelona; each of these is worthy of the extra day and night for sure.
For something with a bit of style, distinction and delightful indulgence, these sweet little breaks are worth a look. Enjoy!