* Event Details
First, you need to know that I won the cruise. I paid for airfare & the pre-cruise hotel, but the cruise/port fees/gratuities were all covered for me and my husband. I went into the cruise hoping that I would come out of this trip willing to pay for the next one. The answer is: yes!
We’re fortunate to be experienced cruisers (10+, but all on another line), and I have to say that for us check-in was the easiest that I’ve ever had in any port we’ve ever embarked from. After signing a couple of forms, we got on board in maybe 10 minutes. The Norwegian Sky is a little smaller ship than what we’re used to, but she’s in good shape overall and had most of the amenities that we like on a cruise. We had an interior cabin, midship. It was about the size we expected, and even had a pull out couch, though it would have been impossible to walk around with it fully extended. There was practically no drawer space though, so luckily this was a short cruise and we didn’t have much stuff with us.
I thought the food was ok. We went to Crossings for dinner the first night, and our meals were excellent. On the last night, we went to the Palace and our meals were perfectly average. In between, we went to the buffet and I thought it was well done for a buffet. I appreciated that there were lots of choices, both healthy and not-so-healthy, and there never seemed to be a long line for anything. Some foods were not as warm as we would have liked, but that’s the risk of the buffet. I loved being able to eat outside at the back of the ship. It was a great place for breakfast, coffee, or an afternoon cocktail.
There were lots of cool activities going on all the time – interesting speakers, music by the pool, watching the American Ninja Warrior crew ham it up, or just talking to all of the friendly people and rubbing elbows with OCR royalty. Besides meeting a bunch of NE Spahtens, we met people from all over the country who were just as excited to be there as we were. I’m not really sure why Norwegian stuck by the old cruise ship routines of an art auction and Broadway shows, because to me it seemed obvious that Spartans are not that kind of crowd, and according to the crew, almost nobody attended.
Schwag: This is where Spartan Race missed the boat (oh come on, you know you want to laugh). We’re on the INAUGURAL cruise for something that has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE BY ANYONE and there is no different lanyard for the ribbon, nor a location specific finisher shirt. Really?! This is where you make it special, guys! Everyone who has done a Spartan Race has expectations about the obstacles being challenging and well built, but the memories are what counts for the non-elites like me. This Sprint finishers shirt will be no different from the rest that I collect this year and that makes me sad. Yes, I bought an event-specific shirt in the gift shop, so if that’s was SR was aiming for, then good job. But really – not even a special lanyard? That’s one of the things I love about the stadium events and I was hoping for one here. If cost was the issue, then raise the cost of the cruise by $2. I guarantee that no one wouldn’t have gone because the cruise was $801 instead of
* Race Details
The setting for the race just couldn’t be beaten. We had to take tenders off the ship to get to the island of Great Stirrup Cay, and the process went very smoothly for us. I’ve been to the island “next door” (Coco Cay), and GSC is much bigger and has more to offer. I don’t think the obstacles were all that new or challenging, besides the swimming and lily pad leap. With the temperature being almost 70 degrees warmer than what we had been used to in central CT, the heat was a real obstacle for me. Every swimming leg was greatly welcomed. The race map is available on the Spartan Cruise Facebook page if you want to see it. Lots of people complained that the course was too easy, and I can see that point. However, the thing to keep in mind is that this is a tiny island in the Caribbean and that means that you’re not going to have the kind of challenging terrain that most SR’s offer. Additionally, everything has to be shipped to the island. Finally, there are restrict
ions about what can be done to the terrain of the island. These islands can be reclaimed by the sea at the bat of Mother Nature’s eye. That means you can’t tear up dunes to make obstacles without compromising the integrity of the island, and I’m sure NCL wants the island to be there for a long time.