What made the cruise wonderful was its exotic destinations -- we loved every port we stopped at! If you do take this cruise, you HAVE to buy shore excursions for Roatan and Belize; Cozumel and Grand Cayman are easy to manage on your own. In my opinion, "freestyle cruising" is a good concept, but there are still things that need to be worked out. The service on board the ship was very average -- certainly NOT worth the automatic gratuity that NCL charges your room every night. You do have the option of adjusting the charges, which a lot of people did. Furthermore, it didn't seem like most of the crew knew anything about the ship! For instance, we weren't sure if juice was included in our cruise fare (it was, but was available only for a few brief hours in the morning before vanishing from the dining halls for the rest of the day), and no one could tell us anything about it. Also, one night, we went to dinner at 10:00 and were berated by a waiter for being so late! By the way, a lot of people complained about the food. I thought it was fine, but not as good as Carnival. The entertainment was good overall, the ship seemed very kid-friendly, and the cruise director seemed nice. Besides the service, the only other sore spot we experienced was with the art auction. My husband and I thought it would be nice to spend an hour and attend the auction, but it turned into a 3 hour, very tedious event, headed by an obnoxious man who made tasteless comments about his Filipino assistants. I wrote about this experience more specifically and in greater detail on our comment cards; hopefully, NCL will follow up on it. While none of the cruise people (excursions director, recetionist, etc.) were very friendly, no one quite sunk to this man's level. Overall, I would say this cruise was great, as long as you don't expect five-star, or even four-star treatment. We definitely took advantage of doing things by ourselves, which made all the difference in the world.
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