Background Information : I am a 43 yr old woman who traveled solo, staying in the studio cabins. This is my 4th cruise with NCL and my 6th total.
Hotel Info (if any): I did not stay in a hotel. I flew down the day of and took the NCL airport transfer.
Ship Info : The ship itself is huge yes... it has more than 4,000 passengers. The negatives: It is a downfall that there are few elevators and very long lines most times to get into them. Most times I just took the stairs. The casino was very poorly placed in the center of the ship and was full of smoke with tiny air purifiers which could never keep up with that kind of space. Many times you have to walk through there, and for a non smoker like me...it was kind of gross. I actually would have spent time gambling in there if they maybe had a non smoking night or something. But they didn't, so I just moved quickly through. The positives: There was a LOT of things to do! Most times I just had the buffet meal because I wanted to be able to do everything in the little 7 days I was onboard. Staterooms, Entertainment and Crew are top notch! The fitness center was very large with everything you could imagine!
Activities : Waterslides are way fun. During sea days, the line for the big slide could be up to 20 mins or so, but well worth it. Lines for the others were never really that long. Plan on going early, or when the ship is in port. Rock climbing and rapelling wall I did multiple times. It is so much fun and the Recreation staff was the best I have ever had! They have all kinds of sports to do there. I even went bowling! The pool parties and sail away parties are always a blast. Theme nights are super fun. The crew really gets you into it! The Ice Bar was a very different experience as well!
Service : My stateroom steward was nice. Always saying good morning. I only got 2 towel animals, others got one every night. I love those little things too! He did not introduce himself like others I have had previously. But my room was always clean and tidy twice a day. I did have an issue with my bathroom light not working and my TV constantly rebooting itself. Both issues were resolved within minutes of notifying the staff. The only downfall I saw was that I had left my pool towel in my room and they would not give me another one. I could see if they just kept track somehow by my room card to make sure I returned them both or something... so I had to go without, or go back to my room on the opposite end of the ship to dry off.
Port & Shore Excursions : 2 good, 1 not so good. In St Maarten, I did the America's Cup Regatta race. It was so much fun. They explained everything to you, they were informative and funny and the work wasn't so hard, but enough to feel like you were part of the crew! They offered you a drink and of course, took pictures too. I was surprised how hard it really is to sail, but had a fantastic time. I would recommend this to anyone! In Nassau, I did the dolphin encounter. This was the highlight of my trip. I got to give her (her name was Bimmeny) a kiss and a hug and rub her belly and feed her and even got to dance with her! Plus, the wetsuit looked really good on me.. bonus! We go out in groups of 10. Total time in the water was about 45 mins I'd say. We got to see her do jumps and flips and she splashed me while playing around. I was so at home with them and the whole process was so smooth. It was at Atlantis at dolphin cay. It was a very long walk back to the bus stop though! I would also recommend this to anyone! Now, the not so good one: St Thomas. I did the St John Eco hike and beach tour. We had to be at the pier at 8:15 so I had breakfast around 7ish. I got to the pier and they advised me the water taxi to St John would leave at 8:30, and it was right on time. The ferry operators were informative and funny and very entertaining, plus you can get a beverage onboard for cheap money (can of soda or a water was just a dollar). When we got to St John, the tour guide took us to a place to sign some waivers. I said the tour indicated it came with water and a snack, but she had no idea at all. She said only the Disney boats came with that. So, I had to go into the store and buy bottled water at $2 each. They did not sell snacks that I could see. The "hike" is really not one. It's just a walk. And you stop every 10 minutes to talk about the birds and the trees and bushes and bugs,etc... and you were not allowed to walk ahead of the group. I was hoping for an actual hike. Then we got to Honeymoon beach, which was beautiful!! But we had all of 40 mins and were rushed out again.. could have used more time there. The only snack shop on the beach was charging an obscene amount of money, so I passed. We walked to the taxi who took us to the ferry terminal, which was just starting to board. I could have stayed to get something to eat, but the ferry only comes once an hour so I hopped on and took the 45 min ride back to St Thomas. By the time I got to the ship, on this 90 degree day, I was hot, hungry and dehydrated and really wished I had chosen something else. I will mention this to NCL,but as a suggestion... keep in mind if you really want to try this one, bring plenty of water AND a snack, and don't expect to break a sweat on this "hike". I just went right back on the ship to eat and decided not to check out St Thomas any more.
Summary Travel To Port of Embarkation : I took the NCL shuttle from FLL to the port. They had all the flight info, but I waited almost an hour for the bus, I'm guessing they were waiting for enough passengers to fill it up?? That was kinda frustrating, but we got there just fine and in plenty of time. The lines for check in took about an hour,but with a bunch of buses pulling in at once and 4,000+ passengers, I didn't expect to get through too quickly. Once I got onboard, they sent us to deck 15 for lunch and within 15 mins our rooms were ready, so it worked out well.
Stateroom : The studio room was small, as expected, but I only slept and took a shower and changed anyway.. didn't spend much time in there. I do like the interactive TV and how you can check your account, reserve a show, etc.. right from your room. The funky lighting that kept changing kinda freaked out my eyes so I usually just put it on the regular white light, although it was kinda dim. I got an adjoining room and could hear the TV and the guy snoring in the cabin next to me. Not sure if it's just because the door is not as thick as the walls?? The bed was the most comfortable thing I have ever slept in! The shower had great water pressure and nice hot water. The studio lounge is fantastic! We had Fernando there every day to talk to us, answer questions, set up meetings so that you don't feel alone... he even set up a private comedy/magic show for us! It was way better than I ever expected it to be. NCL really set the bar for this!
Dining : I ate at the Manhatten room once. Was nice. It's large, so took a while to get food, but I expected it to, and had nice conversations while waiting. I ate at Moderno once which was great! You will not leave hungry. It is a specialty restaurant,so cost $20 but well worth it. And when the meat was cooked too rare for me, they would specially make them my way and deliver me a plate of steaks and beef cooked just the way I wanted. Every other time I ate at the buffet which was good. Nothing I just HAD to have seconds of, but for a buffet there were plenty of options and it was tasty.
Entertainment: Top Notch!! Blue Man Group-an interesting experience. Worth seeing. It's amazing how people who do not speak one word can put on such a show! And they get the audience involved which is so funny. Comedy Magician Jeff Hobson was fabulous! He did the usual slight of hand and card tricks,plus some mind reading things which were boggling! He was SO funny and just overall amazing. A must see! Murder mystery luncheon was nice. Food options were not much to choose from, and was just ok. The story line and audience interaction was great though - made for a funny improv show. Overall took about 2 hours. Good to see if you have the time. Howl at the moon- a dueling piano show was great. They were funny and got the audience to sing along and took requests. It was great.
Disembarkation : Easy. I had an excursion the day we disembarked, so I had to be at the theater at 8:15 however we just sat there for a while and didn't really get off the ship til about 9. But it was easy to get off and find your luggage and they directed me right to my bus. Considering how many people are onboard, I think they did quite well with it.