There were lots of good things about the cruise (good ports, great food, excellent entertainment), but some negatives (no bringing beverages of any kind aboard, no chair in our cabin) that will make me think twice about another cruise with NCL.
4 out of 5
Our embarkation was fast up to a point. We got to the desk to check in quickly, then were assigned to a waiting area. There were groups of perhaps 10 people sitting, waiting to be allowed to board. I'm not sure what happened, but for some reason the line stopped for a time. However, more groups were called to board. It ended up with a very long line of people waiting to board. This was the case for about 15-20 minutes and then it got moving again.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
I would rate the food among the best I've had on a ship. We were fortunate enough to have the dining package as a free perk when we booked the cruise and the restaurants we reserved prior to to the cruise were excellent. There was only one complaint about any of them and that was the calamari in Teppanyaki. It was tough and rather tasteless, not at all good like the calamari in a local teppanyaki place. We also got the drinks package. I realize that everyone's tastes are different. There are Pepsi people and Coke people and oddballs like myself who like diet Mountain Dew. When I can't have diet Mountain Dew I like Coke Zero or Pepsi Zero. The ship doesn't have diet Mountain Dew nor does it have Pepsi Zero so of course I wasn't happy. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that, unlike every cruise line I've ever sailed with (Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity), Norwegian does not allow guests to bring aboard any variety of drink, even including bottled water.
5 out of 5
After over 20 cruises I often feel like "been there, done that" about many cruise activities and am happy to edit photos on my laptop or read. But I did peruse the cruise activity schedule and found quite a number of interesting activities and games.
5 out of 5
The stage show "Six" was absolutely amazing, the best I've seen on a ship with the exception of Royal Caribbean's Allure's production of the complete "Mama Mia". We also enjoyed the comedy magician, Mr. Parent. "Burn the Floor" was also good, so energetic that I felt worn out when it was over.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The service onboard was excellent, especially after our room steward explained the switch on the wall that we somehow hadn't noticed that, when turned on, shows the steward when to make up the room. However, we did have problems occasionally with bartenders forgetting the lime we requested for diet Pepsi to make it more palatable.
4 out of 5
The ship was very clean. However, we missed some rooms that don't exist on the ship, a game room and a library. We snidely concluded that they are omitted since they wouldn't produce revenue. Unlike the Allure, the ship frequently felt crowded, especially the Atrium on deck 6, where many of the activities take place. The chairs in that area are arranged haphazardly within an area defined by a back row of chairs. I really did not like those chairs. They are exceptionally long from back to front so that, without a pillow against the back, someone my height (5'4") can't lean against the back of the chair. Also, with so much demand for space in that area, the size of those chairs is a bit counterproductive. The other high backed chairs that define the area don't have that problem but are also not quite comfortable. All of them appear somewhat worn, not surprisingly since that area is used a lot. On deck 8 there area areas with much more comfortable chairs.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
The cabin is very well arranged with a lot of storage space. The bed and pillows were comfortable. However, there were a couple of things that weren't great. First of all, there is no comfortable chair. There is a weird cube with a tray on the lift-off top that can be used for storage. The top is very lightly padded so that it isn't really comfortable. The lack of a back also makes it uncomfortable. For someone like me, who is uncomfortable lounging or sitting up on a bed, this is unacceptable. Also, the bottom sheet wasn't big enough so that by morning it was coming off the mattress. The bedspread was also a bit skimpy. The shower worked well except that it took awhile for the water to get hot. Also, it could be improved by having a little bar across a corner to help with leg shaving, something that several ships I've been on have. I did really like the shelves in the bathroom, which were great. So really the bathroom was a hair above average.
Don't expect to bring your own drinks aboard and expect to spend more on board than on most cruise lines.
Our son, daughter-in-law and I booked a river tubing excursion through Cruises Only and it was the best excursion I did on the cruise. We tubed down the Rio Bueno. Our guide was excellent and we had a super time.
We booked an excursion on the internet to Stingray City. The waves were high so it was a bit hard to enjoy the rays. There were supposed to be two snorkel stops, but we only had one, I'm sure because of the high seas. I made the mistake of not getting out for that stop, which turned out to be very good.
I have mixed emotions about this port. The port is beautifully landscaped and has some neat features (a butterfly enclosure, nice beach, some shops, a lighthouse) and means that the ship can dock. This can mean that the port doesn't get missed because it's dangerous to tender in. On the other hand, it makes going to the mainland prohibitively difficult so that some excursions such as cave tubing are impossible. This means that the very expensive ship excursions are the only way to go. In the long run this port will probably be a good thing for the town of Placencia. My husband and I just walked around the cay and I bought some earrings at a silver shop.
Another great port. We took a taxi to the Money Bar, where we bought lunch and lounged on lounge chairs. Unfortunately, as with every port and while at sea, the waves and winds were high. My husband went snorkeling and reported that there was a strong current and that it was difficult to get back out. I didn't go in. There is very good shopping at the port area.
2 out of 5
The disembarkation was one of the worst we've dealt with. Part of the problem, I believe, is that the ship got in late because of high seas (9-14 foot waves). It took a long time for it to start. Then there was insufficient time given for the independent travelers (people taking all of their own luggage off) to get off. Then the next colors were called so that very long lines resulted. Apparently, whoever was calling for the people with different colored tags to get off was unaware of the progress of the disembarkations progress. Thinking of a past really bad disembarkation with Carnival, I told my husband that it was positively "carnivalian".
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