I have to start by saying, Wow, this was by far, the best of the now 5 cruises I have taken. Were there negatives? Maybe/Probably, but I was having such a great time I didn't take the time to notice anything negative.
Okay, well maybe one negative... I felt the cabin was small. However the large balcony was awesome! I didn't mind the "split bathroom", but prefer the traditional set up. My husband was not a fan at all of the bathroom layout. The sink was small, not easy to use. However, with all that said, I knew of the bathroom issues prior to boarding (from other reviews) and from past experience and research the cabins on NCL tend to be smaller than other lines.
Embarkation was a breeze. Got to the port at 10:15, walked right thru check-in and was in boarding group 3. Started boarding at 11:45, was on the ship shortly there after. We were greeted with balloons and crew members dancing and singing. Nice touch! Every crew member we came in contact with said "welcome aboard"! Again, nice touch!
Cabins were ready around 1:00 and luggage came around 3:00. NCL really has this down to a science. Our cabin steward, Jerico was great. First time entering the cabin, and every time seeing him he addressed my husband and I by our first names. He did a really great job of keeping our cabin clean and provided towel animals. (I liked that!) He was very deserving of the extra tip and bag of chocolates we gave him at the end of the cruise.
Food was great. We dined at both the free and pay for venues. I found the buffet to have a great variety / quality and the hot food was hot while the cold was kept cold. Main dining rooms were also good. Service was a little slow when the rooms were full, but I think that is to be expected and it wasn't anything major if you just have a little patience. O'Sheehans was good, atmosphere fun. We dined at Cagney's, Moderno, Tappenyaki and La Cucina. All great service and very good food. I think La Cucina was my favorite.
I really can't say enough about the crew. While some crew members were more reserved than others, ALL were friendly and helpful. The bartenders at Waves Pool Bar were very entertaining and some of the best bartenders I've every seen. NCL should be very proud of their crew.
We purchsed the Ultimate Beverage Package on day one. My husband and I were able to have whatever we ordered. We ordered beer, single shot mixed drinks, wine (less than $10/glass, which offered a huge variety), proseco and mimosas. Frozen drinks were included. My husband ordered a coffee with Bailey's one night, and was told if he got the Bailey's IN the coffee it was included, however if he ordered it on the side, it was. Not sure why it mattered, but he ordered it on the side.
I think NCL needs to "tweak" the UBP some, and they probably will as they get more experience with it. Rather than have to sign a slip for each drink, might seem like a better idea to sign a "waiver" of some sort up front. Would make the process easier. And some bartenders / waitstaff were a little confused as to what was allowed on the program and what wasn't. Overall, the program is fine. Not sure I would purchase it again. It is nice know exactly what your bar bill will be at the end of the cruise and not have any "sticker shock".
We didn't attend much of the entertainment on this cruise, however did go to the Jazz Club. Club was small, but entertainment was good. The various musicians around the ship were very good.
Ports of St Martin and St Thomas were fun. Did a snorkel at St Martin, currents were very strong so I didn't stay in the water long. Warning: they mean it when they say check your tickets to verify excursion times! We signed up for the 1:15 excursion but got the 8:15 time. Didn't discover this until 7:50 the morning of the excursion! This was definately our mistake, just want to pass along the warning. Did the skyride in St Thomas again, which is always beautiful. I had never been to Nassau, and will never go back. (wish I had been on the previous weeks cruise where Nassau was missed). I was very disappointed by Nassau, found it to be a dirty dump.
By far, my favorite days are sea days and enjoyed all 3.
Worst part of the cruise was getting off the ship. Not because there were any issues, I just didn't want to leave! The process was easy, we didn't carry off our luggage as we were not in any hurry. We selected the lime tags and were off the ship just before 10:00.