This was our 3rd cruise on NCL and it was the most incredible one so far. Dec 9-Dec 16, I guess this review is better late than never. We sailed the Western Caribbean out of NOL. We had booked a balcony cabin and were upgraded to a Family Suite for a small upcharge. It was well worth the extra money. I have never been so pampered in my life. Our butler Made was so nice and did anything we asked of him. I wanted to take him home with us.
We drove into NOL from DFW, and stayed at the Super 8 motel on Chef Menteur Highway so got to leave our car in their secure lot while we were gone. The price was great, only $56.86 total including parking. It only cost us $7/pp each way to the port. The motel was clean and comfortable. The breakfast in the morning was great!! The staff is very friendly. Some had said that the area was not good, but I didn't think it was any worse than any place else.
That night we did the vampire/ghost tour in the French Quarter. It was ok, but it was too hot and humid for me. It probably would have been better in the French Quarter if they weren't having the Santa Run going on. You couldn't even push your way through the crowds on the sidewalks. I guess I'm just not used to all the crazy people around..lol..The women were dressed in real skimpy Santa costumes and when one of the male Santas came up to my daughter and said "HO HO HO", my DD looked around and said "Yes, there are a lot of them around here"...lol...
Embarkation: We arrived at the port at about 9:30 so we had to wait a few min. After check in, being in a suite, we got to go to the VIP lounge with yummy snacks, coffee and juice. We even got to bring some of our CC roll call friends with us that weren't even in a suite. There we met our concierge Patrick. He handed out our cabin cards and led us onto the ship before the rest of the people could board. We checked our carry-on and went to Cagney's for lunch. Wow!! The shrimp cocktail was really good. By the time we finished lunch, our suite was ready and we dropped off our luggage to explore the ship.
Our cabin: It took my breath away at how big and bright our cabin was. It had floor to ceiling windows on one full side. I was thinking that it would be perfect for an Alaskan cruise so you didn't have to be out in the cold to see it all. All I had booked before was inside, so you can imagine my delight at the size of the family suite. It is in the part of the ship were the Spinnaker used to be, so everything is brand new. We had a large screen TV with a dvd player and more storage than my DD and I could ever use. I especially liked the look, the colors are dark wood and really soft tan carpet. I set up the M&G, so when we did the cabin crawl, we had about 25 people in the cabin and there was still plenty of room! The cabin has a King bed that you can pull a solid wall across on one side and a curtain across on the end. In the dining area, there was a Murphy bed that my DD slept on. That had curtains that pulled all the way around that area. The lounge area had a sofa that pulled out into a bed, a coffee table and two chairs with great view! The closet area had closets all along both side of the "hall" to the bathroom. The bathroom had a separate shower with a body spray and rain shower head, and tub also with a body spray. There were 2 sinks with storage drawers by each. Here are the links to the videos my DD took of the cabin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdVP5AA52wY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEpPoTEZguU I can't say enough about NCL's suite life!!!!
The Ship: We loved the star and you will never meet a nicer crew. The pool area was really nice but I really think they could have done away with the water slides. I wanted to try them, but even the kids were having a hard time getting up enough speed to make it down. Not enough water rushing through them. We used the hot tubs and pool quite a bit. The buffet was nice, but we hardly used it at all. I really try to stay away from the buffet because there are always more kids that are on vacation and very over stimulated what with all the sugar from the desserts...lol..The food around the pool had just about anything you might want for a snack or lunch. The layout of the ship was pretty easy to navigate.
Dining: The first night, we ate at Cagney's and the filet melted in your mouth! By booking it the first night, we got a bottle of wine with dinner. The next morning we ate at Cagney's for breakfast. Filet and eggs...wow...home was never like this...lol..We also had lunch there. We ate in each of the MDR's and found the food great. We also ate at Moderno's and in MHO, that was my least favorite meal. We were the only ones in the dining room and we had made a late reservation, so I personally felt that the meat was a little dried out.
Entertainment: They had the cocktail party with the Capitan for the suite guests and the Ill tell you what, martinis flowed like water..lol...it was awesome. Our concierge noticed a couple of or CC friends waiting outside for us to go to dinner, and told them they could go in and sit with us and have drinks as well. That really impressed me. We went to Second City and Elements, it didn't seem like there was enough time to see all of them. We got to sit in the reserved suite section and I was so impressed, when I ordered a frozen mudslide, I didn't even give my card for the order because our guests paid, I got my drink and it had my name written in chocolate on the top...I don't know how they knew my name..lol.. We did enjoy the shows we went to and it was very nice to be able to sit in the sofa style seats in the balcony because I'm not a small person and the regular seats tend to be tight for me.
The Ports: We love this itinerary and this was our second time to these ports.
First stop was Costa Maya. It was a Lazy beach day for us. We went to NOHOCH KAY and Jamie is wonderful and made sure our drinks kept flowing and we got plenty to eat. We each got a massage on the beach for about $30, it was amazing.
Next stop was Belize: We took a ruin tour and we found it interesting. My DD wanted to do it the week before 12/21. We got to see most of the city on the way there and way back, and it didn't seem as horrible as people had said. In the port area, they have a pharmacy that is run by a lady that used to be a pharmacist in NOL so you can get all of your pharmacy needs met.
Next stop was Rotan: We got to do the discover scuba two tank dive through Island Marketing. The only thing I was a little upset about was that put us with some people off a CCL ship. They got there early and had to leave by noon, so it cut our tour short. IMHO, they should have had them with one instructor and put us with the other so we could have gotten our full time. We did however have a wonderful brother and sister team that drove us to the excursion and back to the port. They also took us to a local grocery store on the way back, and we got some really cheap prices on alcohol and local food. They had both grown up on the island, so were very good tour guides and gave us all sorts of interesting facts.
Next stop was Cozumel: We had been there 3x before, so just kind of wondered around town for a while and shopped in the part of town that didn't have the prices in dollars, only pesos, then caught a cab to the other side of the island and Coconuts for lunch. It was a great time for all! I really enjoyed our welcome back party on the dock when we boarded the ship. I must say, NCL crews seem to have a lot of fun and seem to enjoy their job.
When we got back to the ship, our steward Benjamin had made a towel person, not an animal this time. It was so cool. He always left little notes for us telling us how much he appreciated our kindness to him...he was incredible!
Next was a sea day. That was the day our CC M&G group got to do the bridge tour. Our group was so big that they had to split it into 2 groups. I'll tell you, NCL does things up right, champagne and mimosas with snacks. What a wonderful time for all! That night, we got our gold luggage tags for the priority debarkation and then went out to see the ship one last time. While we were sitting in the atrium, our steward saw us and showed us the lovey perfume he had purchased for his wife for Christmas. It made me feel a little bad when he told us that she would share it with his daughters. That really made me realize how good we have it and just the fact that he could be so happy and caring all the time was a true credit to his personality when he and his family obviously didn't have much.
Debarkation went ok, but because we wanted to stay on the ship as long as we could, we got into a little crowd getting off. Had we done the priority debarkation, I'm sure we wouldn't have had to wait as long.
So, all in all, this was the best cruise I have ever had!!!!!! Everyone is sure right when they say that NCL Suite Life is the best!!!