My wife, 5 year old, and 2 year old cruised with me leaving Nola on Feb 27, 2013. A bit apprehensive based on some reviews here, but cruised with NCL before in 2007 on the Pride of America in Hawaii. So we were uniquely aware of freestyle cruising and lower food expectations.
Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth. As Latitudes members, we had shorter line getting on around 12 noon, but not much of a wait for all. Loved the fact that you have a choice when to disembark. Had a 5 pm flight backs to NY, so we chose to hang around until
9:30 am. Had to leave the cabin by 9 am. You even have option to depart first if ou carry out our own luggage!
Food exceeded our expectations. Maybe it was because we had low expectations, but we were extremely satisfied with the cruisine. Versailles and Acqua restaurants offered the same with a few exceptions. We ate most dinners and some lunches there with good experiences. Market Cafe buffet was fine for breakfast and kids. Omelette stations are on the right side. Ate a Brazilian restaurant one night - excellent experiences. Otherwise, we did not feel the need to spend extra money on the others eateries.
The ship was fine considering its age. We thought it looked very nice overall. Enough places to get lost. Recommend deck 11 forward. Close to pool and market cafe. Great quiet spaces in front top decks. Always found lounges on sea days. Liked the water slides, and the back kids water slides area. Minisuite cabin 11506 was great with full bath, and room to move around.
Known as the "Happy Ship", we never met a friendly staff in our cruise experiences! Really impressed. Thay loved our kids. The Kids Academy was excellent as well - a key reason why we selected this cruise, along with the itinerary. We had an issue before we left, emailed the NCL VP, and accommodations we're made for our specific needs. Very impressed.
Stayed away from overpriced NCL excursions and did it on our own. Do your homework and find where to go, and have the local tour people help out with transportations. Highy recommend Goff's Cay in Belize, and West Bay in Roatan. Go to Tequila Beach in Costa Maya - no need for all inclusive though. Shopped in Cozumel - too burnt for beach that day.
Arrive day early in New Orleans. Recommend Hyatt Place overnight, French Market, mule ride, trolley ride. issued the aquarium and insect museum, but looked good. Ate at Emeril's Nola for lunch after cruise - yum!
Stay away from smelly areas in back of ship. Not fond of smoking areas as well. Look for the shining chef Bernardo in Market Cafe at night - grant entertainment! Good bands throughout ship. Did not watch shows - kids sleeping.
Not sure why these other reviews are so crabby! We really had a great time!