I reply heavily on reviews before booking a vacation, so I figure I better write e review ;)
We left Miami on December 16, 2012 and sailed to Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Georgetown Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico
We had an inside, midship stateroom on the 10th floor. We were underneath the buffet which I was initially warned might be noisy. It really wasn't except for the occasional dragging of a chair. And I have to say, we found it very convenient that we could just take the stairs up 1 flight and be in the grand buffet. We ate breakfast every morning at the outside buffet at the back of the ship. It was beautiful.
I found the rooms were modern and made very efficient use of the tiny space.
The sun deck didn't have enough chairs, but our last cruise was like this too. If you wandered around long enough you could find 2 chairs next to each other.
Food overall was better than our last cruise. We did pay for dinner at Cagney's twice, and it was fabulous and well worth the $50.
Embarkment: We got to the port of Miami at about noon. The line was absolutely ridiculous. I mean, it was unlike anything I had ever seen. All the way out the door and around the corner in the sweltering heat. We ended up walking to the Seaman's cafe (I think this is a little restaurant for the cruise ship employees). Anyway, we walked down there, used their atm, and ate. We spent about 1.5 hrs doing this and by the time we got back to the terminal, there was no line at all. So, tip, don't get there until about 1:30! Avoid the stress of the massive line! There was no champagne greeting which they did have our last cruise.
Disembarkemtn: We were in the first group that had luggage. Walked right off, got our bags, and were through customs in about 15 minutes. Our friend did the early bird "carry your own bags" and was out the door before 7am.
Service: Was impeccable. Absolutely everybody on ship was kind, thoughtful, cheery, and had smiles on their faces!
Great Stirrup Cay
First and foremost, there are 3 beaches. The main one where they pack you in like sardines. Seriously, the chairs went about 10 rows deep and were touching for yards and yards. Ick.
The second beach was still more crowded that I'd liked, but was OK. We rented one of the clam shells that fit 2 chairs in this area. This is also where the cabanas are that you can rent. Also, they are fairly close to the restrooms and buffet.
The 3rd beach is so far away its truly laughable. You can hardly see it from the main area. Great if you want privacy for some...errr adult activities. But way to far away from the restroom and buffet.
Now, as far as the buffet goes-be aware it is only open until 2pm. We did not know this and were starved at 2:30 and walked to the buffet to find it closed!
We found this stop very relaxing and really better than expected overall. The waves are very calm and great from swimming or just floating around. Mediocre snorkeling.
We loved it here. We were in a group of 6 in our late 20s and loved the feel of this place. Yes, everybody bugs you to buy their junk. Yes, they all openly offer you weed. We found it hilarious. We got off the ship, and hired a guide to drive us around for $15 each. He took us all around the city for about 3 hrs and had a great time. We went to the Dunn's River Falls (MUST do AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE-we were probably the first 30 or so people in this place and walked the falls basically alone. By the time we were done there were thousand of people doing the walk and that would have been terrible). We also went to a lookout point looking over the bay, and shopping in a remote outdoor market. Then the driver took us to the Jerk chicken center-yum! Overall we had a great day in Jamaica. Definitely has a third world feel, but it felt very authentic.
Here were went on a snorkeling excursion I booked direct with the company. We went to Sting Ray City and then a reef. Sting Ray city is a definite must do. Again, try to get there as early as possible. We then went to Seven Mile Beach (overrated IMO) and had a horrendously overpriced mediocre meal on the beach. We then had to run through the city and barely made it back to the ship-on the last tender! I give this stop a "meh". I found it overpriced. I would like to go again to experience more of the real city. Our excursion took the entire time we were there.
Having been to Playa del Carmen several times,I was looking forward to this stop the most. I had never been over to Cozumel, but I LOVE Playa del Carmen so I was excited to explore here. Well, isn't it just how this always goes-we pulled into port and weather was horrendous. We learned all water sports and excursions were canceled. So much for our catamaran sail and booze cruise :( We ended up just taking a cab to the other side of the island and walking the beach for a little bit. My husband tried to swim, but it just got downright dangerous with the weather. TIP: If the driver tells you that HE will come back to get you for extra, take him up on the offer. We thought, no thanks, we will find our own way home (He wanted to pick us back up at a certain time and we weren't sure when we wanted to leave the beach). Anyway, apparently in Cozumel taxis are mostly round trip, so we could not get a taxi to take us back to town for over an hour! Every driver was hailed said they were waiting for their customers they had dropped off earlier in the day and wouldn't take us. I couldn't believe it. If it wasn't for a Canadian family letting us into their cab, we'd still be on the other side of Cozumel!
That night we were supposed to leave port at 6pm. We ended up not leaving until 9pm. Apparently the Mayan Ruins tour was booked solid (it was Dec 20, 2012-last day of the Mayan calander). Anyway, because of the weather the tour was super late getting back to town. And since the tour was booked through Norwegian, they waited for all those people. We heard stories of dozen and dozen of people vomiting on the ferry ride because of the high seas.
That night was a little scary. The very high seas continued all night with us being rocked to sleep in our room all night long. And we were midship-I can't imagine how bad it would be on the ends of the ship!
Link to our cruise video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfRs5cBczjw&feature=youtu.be
Overall, I really enjoyed my cruise and I LOVE seeing so many countries so quickly. What i hate about cruises is being on somebody else's schedule-and even WORSE, I hate being unable to escape the crowds. The cruiseship people ARE the crowds! So, not sure if I will do another cruise again soon. But not because we didn't like it, but because of the 2 things I listed above. If you are somebody who likes cruising, I would highly recommend this itinerary.