This cruise was our anniversary present to ourselves and it was just my husband and I this time. (ages approx 45-49):::
Embarkation Day: driving from home (Ft Lauderdale)to Miami was a breeze and after parking at an off site cruise parking place and getting shuttled to pier took approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. After the shuttle driver dropped us off and we handed over our luggage we were on the ship in 15 minutes. Once off the gangway we were assaulted by really really loud cub dance music that was so loud it hurt my ears. No welcome aboard drinks and there was a bottleneck of people trying to get down the hallways to get to either the main dining room Crossings or the buffet for lunch. We had a nice lunch at Crossings on of the main dining rooms though the service was slow at best and when we asked for our water to be re-filled our waiter filled everyone around us but us and we had to ask 2 more times before he did it. After lunch we wandered around to get a feel for the ship and by 2pm our bags were already in our cabin. Sail Away party was OK and the pool area was filled with people and kids. Dinner at the Palace the other MDR was very nice an service was much better there than Crossings. Staff was not very smiley like on other NCL ships but accommodating. The buffet area on deck 11 The Garden Cafe and the Great Outdoor Cafe were totally crowded and did not have a large selection at all.
Food overall was very good to okay not as good as we have had on other NCL ships but not horrible. The MDR Palace was much nicer and staff while slow at times was not as slow as day 1 at Crossings. The buffet was good for a quick pass through but again not a huge selection and they were slow to refill or replace items that ran out. Cool Place to go for an evening snack was the Longboard Bar for bar food such as buffalo wings, fish n chips, etc... which were good and the service was quick.
Shore Excursions: we did book our excursions through NCL but in retrospect we should have done more research. We did Sea Safari Snorkel by boat in Grand Bahamas- was nice bu the water was choppy, staff on snorkel boat were very friendly, helpful, and made sure everyone had fun. In Nassau we did the Blue Lagoon Beach day that included lunch- it was nice, clean beach area, near the dolphins, and very well maintained. The lunch was so-so burgers, hot dogs, fries, and salad with some optional fruit, included beverage with no refills. and in Stirrup Cay we ha booked the Fate of the Fancy Snorkel Adventure which is not a tour or organized in any way. You are paying to rent the snorkeling equipment only and if you have your own snorkel gear like we do then you only need to spend 5.99 to rent the mandatory vest. The snorkel adventure just you going into the water and snorkeling over the man made stuff (a barrel, a treasure chest, rowboat, etc) and that's it. Stirrup Cay is owned by NCL and its free to just go to the beach and sit and swim. Lunch was a buffet and frankly the best food of the cruise.
Entertainment: very lacking and not what we were used to from our previous NCL cruises. We did enjoy the folk singer and some of game shows but overall no.
Disembarkation: ship docked in Miami super early and was very noisy, our room steward knocked on our cabin door at 710am to see if we were still there which at that time seemed a bit early as you could leave the ship at 745am. So at that point we decided to get ready to go. We left the ship at approximately 745am and we were outside waiting for our parking shuttle at 8am exactly. We were able to take our luggage with us so we did not need to get he color coded luggage tags or have our luggage picked up the night before.
Odds and ends: our room steward was OK and we had 3 nights of towel animals (2 elephants and a who knows what) he seemed pleasant enough though he did not stick around longer than hi and goodbye. For the most part the staff was OK but not as smiley and pleasant as on other NCL ships. The shore excursion staff lady seemed a wee bit put out when we asked questions about our excursion kind of like we were bothering her. The ship itself was very clean and well maintained and it was easy to get around.