Overall the cruise was great. The food was fantastic, with a few exceptions and the service and crew were even better. Every crew member made us feel as though we were special and receiving extra care every time we dealt with them. Friendly yet unobtrusive we found the crew to be excellent. My wife had purchased passes to the thermal spa for us prior to cruising and those were most enjoyable. We actually lounged in the spa nice and warm for our sailaway watching the snow accumulate on the cars and parts of the city disappear in the snowy whiteness. As a part of our booking we got the UDP (specialty dining package) and UBP (unlimited beverage package) included in our booking and it was extremely convinient and enjoyable to have. Although very nice to have the UBP would not pay for itself if we had to purchase it but it was great top have and was used liberally throughout the cruise, especially on the island.
The UDP was great. We chose Cagney's on embarcation night and we also used it for the Cirque Dreams show and dinner at La Cucina. In my opinion La Cucina was hands down the best dining venue on the ship and would strongly recommend that everyone try it at least once. The menu and the food preperation was fantastic. Even though other venues may have offered the same menu item the quality and preperation was not as good as we experienced at La Cucina.
Overall this cruise was outstanding.
4 out of 5
Embarkation went well and smooth with only a slight blip. There was a very large group ahead of us at check in from outside the country and check in for them all was slow and lengthy as each passport had to be checked with an outside authority but outside of that it went well. Once past that we had a short wait and we boarded at 11:30 and went straight to the buffet as we were still early enough to avoid the crowd. The ship was two hours late leaving port. Not sure if this was due to the late fueling as we saw the bunker barge arrive at 2 or to the Customs and Port agents we noted looking around the ship about 3.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
The food was fantastic, with a few exceptions and the service and crew were even better. As a part of our booking we got the UDP (specialty dining package) and UBP (unlimited beverage package) included in our booking and it was extremely convenient and enjoyable to have. Although very nice to have the UBP would not pay for itself if we had to purchase it but it was great top have and was used liberally throughout the cruise, especially on the island.
The UDP was great. We chose Cagney's on embarkation night and we also used it for the Cirque Dreams show and dinner at La Cucina. In my opinion La Cucina was hands down the best dining venue on the ship and would strongly recommend that everyone try it at least once. The menu and the food preparation was fantastic. Even though other venues may have offered the same menu item the quality and preparation was not as good as we experienced at La Cucina.
We ate a number of meals in Savor, one of the MDR located mid ship deck 6. We prefer the smaller mid ship dining rooms to the larger one at the rear. The food and service in this restaurant was excellent.
We also enjoyed O'Sheehan's a few times and Shanghai Noodle Bar. All very good
My wife particulary fell in love with the pistachio gelato at Dolce Gelato.
La Cucina Italian Restaurant
5 out of 5
Best restaurant on the ship. Food, atmosphere, staff all ... perfect
5 out of 5
The thermal spa was wonderful. We used this all but one day and found it a great way to escape the crows and relax in the pools and warmth.
My wife had purchased passes to the thermal spa for us prior to cruising and those were most enjoyable. We actually lounged in the spa nice and warm for our sail away watching the snow accumulate on the cars and parts of the city disappear in the snowy whiteness.
Spa Thermal Suite
5 out of 5
4 out of 5
The entertainment was enjoyable.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Every crew member made us feel as though we were special and receiving extra care every time we dealt with them. Friendly yet unobtrusive we found the crew to be excellent.
4 out of 5
The ship was clean and in good shape. The design was good considering the size and number of passengers. At times there was a bit more concentration of people and congestion with line ups than we would prefer but so long as one plans accordingly it is manageable. our previous sailings have been on the smaller Norwegian ships and there was not as much congestion at certain times on those.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our cabin was what we expected from having previous mid ship balconies on Norwegian. It was clean, fresh and well maintained.
At times, depending on activities, some of the dining options may be a bit crowded with waits. Plan your dining accordingly with this in mind and anticipate waits for all venues other than those that take reservations such as Cagney's, Le Bistro, La Cucina, Ocean Blue or Moderno. On the bright side all dining venues have bars close by so check in, grab a drink or glass of wine and relax before dinner. None of the waits were excessive and all were pleasant.
Also if you enjoy a nice hoppy IPA ask for the Lagunitas. Every bar on ship stocks it and it is fantastic.
Port Canavarel was clean and looks to be all new. We took a transfer to Orlando and went to Universal Studios. We purchased the two park pass directly from Universal on line prior to our cruise. This allowed us to walk to and through Diagon Alley and take the train across to Hogsmeade. The crowd and lineup at Hogsmeade was heavy and we were not able to get close to Hogwarts to see the special Christmas show and fireworks.
The only critisism we would have was after the handling by US Customs when we arrived back at the port. They had us wait outside at the bottom of a large set of stairs and then in small groups ascend the escalator and proceed through customes. This was not a problem and was to be expected. The problem was that from here we had to walk the full length of the terminal and then walk the full length of the terminal again back to where we started and then walk up the boarding ramps to the ship. My wife found that after a day of walking this was hard on her knee.
Contrary to many things that we have heard about Nassau we thouroughly enjoyed this port. From what I could see, so long as you stay to the main areas where there are lots of other people Nassau is not the horror story that many make it out to be. Because we had ample time we had booked a tour through Trip Advisor of Nassau which took us to most of the places we wanted to see that were not within walking distance of the port. It was a pleasant drive around the island stopping at the rum cake factory and the shops at Atlantis and then the driver took us through "The Hood" up to Fincastle and the top of Queen's Staircase. Walked down rather than up and was picked up at the bottom. I never thought of the staircase as beautiful untill I walked down them and saw the plants and ferns along the side. We also stopped at the Chocolatier Factory and Watling's Distillery. The flight of rum was ok but not exceptional and the aged rum was over priced for the quality. We got off at the Straw Market and after going through here and picking up a few things had one more stop to make, Pirate Republic Brewery, which is right by the port half way between the Straw Market and the port and in my opinion is a MUST visit. They offer a nice bariety of local on premise made craft beers including an absolutely awesome Coconut Porter. The only down side was they only had a few of the beers canned to bring home. Most of the great ones were on tap only.
Loved Great Stirrup Cay. This was our second time on this itinerary and our first time on the island and we loved it. We took our time on the ship and did not rush to get over to the island. You can pre book tenders for any time before 11. We waited till about 11:05 and tendered over with no waits at all. Most of the chairs at the first few beaches were all full but they have been expanding the island and there are now 4 beaches plus and ample chairs. We found some close to the water at the third beack between the two beach bars. There are a variety of places to get food and drink scattered throughout the island and over all it was a great experience. There are some nice shops (sort of like a small straw market) to the right as soon as you get off the tender. We went there first then went and had something to eat in a nice shaded shelter and after a drink of three found some nice beach chairs and enjoyed. The food was basic but good. BBQ ribs and burgers, jerk chicken with rice and peas, hotdogs, sausages and a variety of salads and lots of fruits and deserts.
5 out of 5
Debarkation was relatively painless. We opted to drag our own luggage off and after breafast in Savor (one of the MDR) we grabbed our things and joined the lineup to get off. All in all it took about an hour including customs. We went to the terminal roof, threw everything into the trunk and headed for home.
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