This cruise had some high points (the rock wall, ropes course, water slides and some of the dining options). It also had many low points (cigarette smoke you couldn't avoid, some to the dining options, the awful drinks package for kids). Based on my experience I am seriously considering not taking another Norwegian cruise.
3 out of 5
Lines were slower than I have experienced on other cruise lines and I had to re-provide information that I had entered online. There was no way to check in my party of 2 cabins as 1 group.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
Drinks package is definitely expensive at $100/ day for adults with no real options.
The biggest problem is the kids drink packages. It is SODA ONLY. You cannot even get juice with the package. Of course you can walk up as the adult and get a juice and an adult beverage and hand it to your child but your kids cannot get anything but soda on their own and there are absolutely no other options. The inclusion of juice is just logic and maybe creation of a plan that includes virgin cocktails - This is a cruise for a family but NCL doesn't think kids might like a nice drink!
The buffet was ok, other crusies were better.
The sit-down experiences were very good and enjoyable. Ate here for almost every meal. There was also an alternative buffet for breakfast on deck 8 that was much better than the main buffet (though slightly less selection).
The sit down restaurants varied. La Cucina's food was not up to what I would expect and service was underwhelming. The Steakhouse and Brazilian restaurants were both excellent and complete meet all my expectations. I would not pay the a la carte prices and probably would not pay the price for the Premium dining plan and only went as it was included in our deal
3 out of 5
The pools were often crowded, especially the 1st day at sea. The kids loved the climbing wall and ropes course. Mini golf was OK though a bit better signage would be nice. The hours for the rock wall were really limited as were some other climbing / sliding options for kids - even on at sea days.
3 out of 5
Only went to one show (Rock of Ages) and is was excellent. The options otherwise were just not interesting enough for me to plan my evening around attending (7pm show would either rush dinner or make it too late and the 10pm show just didn't work with our parties schedule)
The kids did not use either the kids or teen club. The teen club seemed OK from the 1 time it was checked out.
Service and Staff
3 out of 5
Some staff were great. Other's (cabin attendants) english was poor so you were never sure requests were fully understood. Bar staff were OK but not friendly - maybe because of workload - wait staff in restaurants definitely were nice.
1 out of 5
The ship is generally clean and layout is OK. Given the size I would have expected at least 3 locations for elevators instead of 2 but I can handle this.
What really ruins the experience is where NCL permits smoking. The casino is on deck 7 midship and is open to decks 6 and 8. They allow smoking in the casino which means you cannot walk from aft to stern on any of these 3 decks with the stench of cigarette smoke, even when the casino is closed. You cannot sit in some parts of the french restaurant without the smell of smoke. In addition, they have a smoking area near the pool but it is quite near the pool bar the breeze when underway has smoke blowing into the pool bar so you cannot even get a drink without smelling smoke. This is a huge negative and major design error in my opinion.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
The cabin was nice with a large balcony with a great aft view. Also, as it at the aft there was very little wind to disturb your time. The problem is the soot that accumulates over the duration of the cruise. By day 4 we could see ash that had landed on the deck and some days it was enough it would mark clothing. The deck was not cleaned during the cruise (just on the day you boarded.
Boarding was OK, just the lines were a bit slower than the could have been if NCL made better use of the online check in process and data to be ready and not require to redo things that you already did online.
Port is under construction when we were there but is was OK. The excursions were good and the dive company they contract with is excellent. For non-NCL excursions, the providers were excellent but finding them at the port can be a challenge (maybe harder because of the construction)
The private island is nice if you want a beach to lay on and enjoy the sun. There is also a small splash park. You can go swimming in the sea as well but the water clarity was really bad. There is also a bit of shopping. Otherwise you are stuck on a small island with not a lot to do and expensive food and drink that is not included in your drinks plan. If you want to sit on a reasonable but crowded beach with no shade, there are lots of better and cheaper places to go. There were excursions but with the boat ride to the mainland and the options available (at the NCL prices) they did not seem worth it as they would be rushed.
This is also a port built to handle the cruise ships and nothing else. There were lots of stores. There was also a free pool (but the chairs required you pay for them or buy an expensive drink. There were a number of NCL excursion and lots options you could buy when you got off the boat but there was no a lot to do. It is a cruise ship stop, not really a place to explore a country.
The Punta Langosta Pier definitely takes you into the heart of a city. You can walk a few block and be completely away from the Pier. There are lots of shops here from well known chains to tiny little mom-and-pop shops. The diving on Cozumel is good as well and you can find lots of different options if you want to dive. The location makes it good to chose a non-NCL excursion or make a day of it once you arrive
4 out of 5
Being in a test group for facial recognition that was being undertaken, the disembarking process was really fast and easy. I would rate it excellent but know the slow lines that the normal process required of some people and hence decided not to rate it quite so highly.
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