Great First Cruise
Sail Date: March 01, 2008
Reviewed: 7 years ago
Traveled As: Couple
Room Type: Suite
The freestyle cruise format was one of the reasons why we chose Norwegian Cruise Line and we were not disappointed. The dining experience aboard ship was much better than we expected. There were enough restaurant choices so that dining was always an adventure and breakfast in the Venetian room was pleasant and consistently good. We liked the fact that portions were reasonably sized so that you cold enjoy a variety of items from the menu without feeling that you had overeaten. Dinner in the Venetian was excellent also. We thought that the food quality was great and the presentation was pleasing and artistic. The wait staff was helpful without being fawning, friendly without being intrusive; in short, very well trained and professional. We enjoyed getting to know them. Freestyle dining means that you dont have the same servers every meal but we enjoyed that too. Perhaps interacting with the servers is what made the dining experience so much fun. We avoided the buffet so cannot comment on its quality or variety. The specialty restaurants, though, are the real treat on NCL. Le Bistro was top notch and we enjoyed The Bamboo (asian), Impressions (Italian) as well as the sushi bar. In our opinion, they were all worth the extra cover charge. We are not big steak eaters so we didnt try Cagneys. The only negative dining experience was the Aqua room, which we felt was too noisy even though the food was still good. In truth, we had been prepared for the catered fund-raiser banquet type of food on a cruise ship and the reality far exceeded our expectations.
We were grateful for the readily available exercise options. We had been warned that we would gain weight because of too much food and too little exercise aboard ship. But we were able to get in our 2 to 3 mile walk every day. Didnt gain an ounce.
We booked a penthouse suite (Category AE) located at the stern and were really pleased with the room. Lots of closet and drawer space, convenient layout, great bathroom with a tub, separate vanity, king sized bed (pretty comfortable too), and a separate sitting area. The big plus was the balcony with room for two lounge chairs and a small table. Even in port, we did most of our relaxing and sunbathing there. Perhaps the location contributed to the room being very quiet as we seldom heard any noise from those around us, or, maybe the rooms are particularly well insulated. We loved the perks that came with the suite also; VIP boarding and debarkation, butler service, and the concierge service. One of the best perks was that we were able to make dinner reservations for the whole cruise when we boarded. We thought the penthouse was well worth the extra expense. Our room stewards were great in all respects and went the extra mile to take care of all our needs. NCL really treated us well.
This was a spring break cruise and the ship was packed (the rumor was that there were 900 kids on board) but we never felt crowded, overwhelmed, or bothered. I think its a tribute to NCL that they can provide so much for so many different folks. We did sort of avoid deck twelve (the pool) though. The selling pitches didnt bother us either. We just ignored them. We were able to do what we wanted when we wanted with no pressure.
We did book two shore excursions, one to the national park and mangrove forest on Semana, and the city tour/botanical garden on Tortola and were happy with both. We were glad that we booked ahead of time on line as there was quite a press at the excursion desk on the first day at sea.
All in all, we had a great time and are already planning our next cruise with NCL.
Pros: Great Service and friendly crew, Penthouse suite amenities, VIP treatment, Food and the whole dining experience. We felt like we lived in luxury for a week
Cons: Not much. Anything that was less than perfect we chose to ignore.