Great family vacation, with some minuses
Our group consisted of 11 people (grandparents, kids and grandkids) ranging in age from 8 to 83.
I was prepared to be disappointed. I had read reviews that complained about the ship, service, food, accomodation, embarkation and disembarkation process, etc., etc. I therefore was not surprised when the embarkation process started on the wrong foot. Our party included two people that required wheel chairs for whom I had requested and prearranged boarding assistance starting at the drop off point. When we arrived at the pier and went looking for the prearranged assistance we were informed that no wheelchairs were permitted to be brought up to the taxi and that the people who needed the wheelchairs had to WALK INTO THE BUILDING where the wheelchairs were available! Something about liability and other bureaucratic nonsense. No amount of discussion changed the facts--the two people had to walk, with help from others, to the embarkation building at which point two wheelchairs were brought out. I was royally upset and was on the verge of creating a scene. Not a good start! The rest of the embarkation process was typical--time consuming. We were taken to our cabins, five of them on deck 13. Three cabins were balcony cabins.
We had taken cruises before, mostly on Holland America but decided to try NCL because of the highly touted kids' programs. NCL came through.
My assessment is based on comparison with Holland America, which while a good line is not considered to be a top of the line luxury (expensive) line. However, we like it and have cruised several times to Alaska and Carribean.
The cabin was somewhat small but adequate. There was no room for a desk chair. The balcony was narrow--barely enough room for two people to have breakfast. The bathroom was somewhat small. NCL should spend a few dollars and purchase a higher quality toilet paper--not the sand paper provided.
Open seating was a good idea. Eliminating formal evening--Captain's dinner--was grreat! Less stuff to pack. Allowed for a more relaxed atmosphere.
The meals were good; not always up to expectations. We didn't try the extra cost dining rooms. We didn't think that we should purchase meals that we readily could find at home--Portland, Oregon. Overall, though, OK.
The service was very good. The PI crew remembered the names of the passengers in the cabin they serviced. Waiters in the dining rooms were great. But the best were those in the Garden Cafe, deck 15 who were always smiling and helpful to passengers who needed a bit of extra help. A+ and 6 stars to them!
There was always something to do--from early morning to late at night. For kids and adults. My daughter felt comfortable enrolling her two sons in the kids activities.
The casino was very large. I didn't see a rouletted wheel. Maybe I missed it. On board shopping was interesting. Was surprised that there were no gold charms available--something I saw on every other ship I sailed on. Managed to spend money anyway.
The shows were great. Professionally staged. Enjoyed the crew's contribution.
We hired a taxi in St. Maarten and got a good tour of both the Dutch and French parts of the island. If in reading this review you plan on going to St. M..., look for Betty.
St. Thomas was good for shopping.
Nassau was a bust. :(
Very smooth sailing. Rarely did we feel any motion. Of course the weather was calm, still I believe the navigating equipment (stabilizers) contributed to the smoothness of the voyage.
Very big. I'd go so far as to say too big. Yet the passageways were narrow making navigating a wheelchair difficult at times.
I would rate the ship 3 1/2 but since half stars are not available, i bumped it up to 4 stars. Would I sail on this ship again? Maybe. Depending on when, where and how mudh as compared to what's available on Holland America.
Hope the above helps.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
See my review.