Highlights: -The price - Can't beat the price for a long weekend. -The Food - Everywhere, all the time, and GREAT food in the dining rooms -The Service - Top notch. -The views from the Viking Crown bar pulling out of port -Coco Cay - Fantastic private island -Deck 7, I highly recommend taking a stroll after dinner or sitting outside and having a drink one night. Very relaxing. -Embarkation/Debarkation - Both were incredibly smooth. Neither process took more than 15 minutes.
Lowlights: There aren't many that I would call low lights. You should be aware (and its part of the great price) it is an older ship so there are some signs that its been well loved over the last 13+ years of service -The room size - smaller than industry standard, just know it going into it and you'll be prepared. -We had some electrical problems, our overhead light, bathroom light and tv kept going out, like a fuse was blown. A couple of phone calls to maintenance fixed it and it wasn't a problem after the first day.The long version....
Embarkation: We had registered on line. And we had also arranged our own transportation, using frequent flyer miles. So we landed in Miami around noon and took a taxi right to the pier. $21 is the flat rate. We went up to the check in area, there was no line, and with in 15 minutes (with the obligatory picture) were on our way to our stateroom.
The Room: We were assigned room #3512 which is at the front of the ship, on the left hand side (sorry, pardon the lack of ship terminology). The room was small. Enough room for a bed a desk and a closet. It had a porthole to peek out off. I found the closet space to be ample with shelves on the inside for additional clothes. There were drawers in the desk as well to store clothes. We were able to stash our bags under the bed which helped as well. The bathroom was adequate and pretty standard. Overall I think it does fine for a long weekend, any more than 4 days and I would want a little more room. It would have been nice to have some where other than the bed to sit.
Pulling out of Miami: Those who have recommended sitting in the Viking Lounge for departation have offered some great advice. That is by far the best vantage point. (Side note -- half way out the channel, the boat had to turn around and go back and dock for a medical emergency debarkation. So after a slight delay we were on our way, finally). Lots of fun music and dancing by the pool. We are quiter people so we enjoyed the intimacy of the Viking Lounge and watching everyone party.
Dinner: On our NCL cruise it was Freestyle Dining. Dine whenever, where-ever. So we were a little nervous about the seating thing. We opted for the late seating (so we could take a nap before hand). We were seated with some very nice people from Florida and New York. The food was excellent. The chilled soups are wonderful. I would highly recommend going with the chef's special or some of the featured entrees. There are alternate entrees each night that stay the same throughout the cruise and they are ok, but not the masterpieces that the features are. I had (and not all in one night, but over the course) Pasta with vodka sauce; Duck; Top sirloin; shrimp cocktail; lobster bisque; dessert and cheese plates with my coffee. It was all wonderful.
After dinner, we played some craps in the casino. The craps table wasn't particularly kind that night to me but I got my revenge the next night.
Coco Cay Its a very nice island, the beach on the far side is extremely shallow. I imagine if you had children it would be great because you can go out many many feet with out every getting past your calves. There were plenty of lounge chairs and it was a wonderful day. Couple of tips - eat early. We waited too late and there wasn't a lot of food left.
We headed back to the ship around 2:00 and enjoyed a pretty quite pool area for the evening.
Also before dinner, we enjoyed a drink in the Schooner Bar?? I think it was. We borrowed some cards from the library and had a nice time watching the water, having a few drinks and played some rummy.
Pre-dinner we hit the champagne bar for some martinis. They have martini specials from 500-830 each night. Great selection of martinis and they really make a good one!
Dinner again - fantastic. I loved that they knew I like to order wine with dinner and the list was waiting.
Back to the Casino - again - after checking in on the art auction and some of the shops. Tonight, the craps tables gave me some of the money it took from me the night before.
We also took a midnight stroll on deck 7. It was really lovely and you MUST do that at least once.
Tonight was the midnight buffet on the pool deck. It was complete chaos but we managed to snag some ice cream and dessert and scampered off to the side of the crowds to enjoy our midnight treat.Nassau: We'd been here before so we only got off the ship for 2 hours. We wandered the streets, went to Senior Frogs for a couple of drinks and then hit the flea market. Its nice because there are only 2 ships in port on that day so the flea market people were more open to haggling. Just keep walking away, they will keep coming down. A woman started at $70 on a bag and as I kept walking away it finally came to $45 after walking away twice and $40 after a little hemming and hawing.
We spent the rest of the day on the upper deck - very private, a lot less people - with a buck of corona's. Good deal by the way, 7 Coronas for $30 (includes the tip). We sat up there from 3pm to 630pm.
Dinner, of course was fantastic. We opted on our last night to enjoy the deck on 7 outside of the champagne bar. My husband had bought some Cubans so we sat under the moonlight and enjoyed the lightening show from the storms in the distance.
Debarkation: At 7:30 am the captain came on, announced we were cleared and the debarkation was starting. We were off the ship by 8:00 am and at the airport at 8:30 and able to switch our later flights to a 9:30 flight in order to be home nice and early this afternoon.
Overall I think it was a great long weekend trip. The ship shows some signs of wear and tear but what do you expect, it IS an older ship. Service was wonderful and the ports were fun and just perfect for a long weekend. We are even thinking of coming back in September or October to do it all again.