We are just home from the most wonderful and relaxing vacation... Our group included myself and my husband (30s), our 4yr old son, and 10 month old daughter. We booked the trip on Tuesday and were on the boat that Saturday. Leaving from NY was very easy for us since we're nearby. The check-in wasn't awful. We arrived at the port around 1:30, check-in started at 1:00. From the time we pulled up to the curb until we boarded the ship was less than an hour.
The price was excellent for interior cabins- we ended up with two double occupancy cabins for less money than all of us staying in a four person cabin. The space was laid out nicely. We had plenty of room to store everything. The beds and linens were very comfortable. The room's decor was cute and cruise theme. The bathroom was the typical shower stall and tiny toilet I expected. We're not the type to spend much time in our cabin and the interior cabin was just fine for us. In fact, not having a window made things easier traveling with a baby. There is a tv in the room which showed live news (MSNBC, BBC, Fox), Nickelodeon, classic movies, current tv sitcoms, and the ship's news and updates.
We really enjoyed dining on this ship. It was easy to feed both of my kids healthy foods. We dined mostly in the Garden Cafe which is the ship's main buffet. They have many options to chose from and it is self-service. We ate in the dining rooms a couple of times and found the menu to be more interesting and a slightly better quality that what was available in the buffet although portions were small.
My son's favorite part of this trip was the Treetops Kid's Club. We dropped him off there for a couple of hours at a time. All the activities were broken into age appropriate groups. The facility was clean and the crew working with the kids were all awesome. At the end of the trip all of the kids participated in a circus show on the main stage. There was a room for children under 3 to play with their parents which was nice. It had gym mats on the floor and baby/toddler toys and books. They hosted a once-daily activity for the little ones there like finger paints and puppets. It was very cute and clean.
There was a Nickelodeon Crew on the ship. They hosted lots of game show activities where kids get "slimed" or get a pie in the face. We had a lot of fun seeing the Nicktoons up close for dance parties and meet and greets. There were some great arts and crafts projects with freebies like tote bags and t-shirts. Besides the kid's club and Nickelodeon events there was plenty to keep the kids entertained like Nintendo Wii in the atrium, stage shows and live music, sports court, swimming pool with waterslide, etc.
Overall we were happy with the ports of call. In San Juan we got off the boat and took a tour with a local tour operator (much cheaper than pre-booked excursions through NCL) and walked around in old San Juan. There are many inexpensive souvenir shops and the usual ship-endorsed jewelry shops all within short walking distance of the ship. We dined in an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant. St. Maarten was really lovely. We took a taxi to the Divi Resort beach and rented chairs there for $5. The waves were calm and they had showers on the beach and a bar/restaurant, very family friendly. Then we walked around the shops and had lunch in the Harborview Restaurant on the beach (delicious and authentic, many locals dining there). There were a lot of shops in the cruiseport if you don't want to venture far. St. Thomas was fun for shopping and the beach at Magen's Bay. The best part was visiting Magic Ice which is like the ice hotels in the arctic. They had an ice bar, sculpture, luge, and you get a free shot of rum. Samana DR was awful. You have to take a hot, cramped tender boat to the port which is dirty and the few shops have dingy souvenirs. This is the place to utilize the ship's excursions or better yet, stay on the boat.
In all, it was a fantastic trip! We had a great time on the boat and the itinerary was interesting. We didn't end up spending much on extras on the boat like cover charges in the restaurants or booze. There were so many fun complimentary activities on the schedule every day to keep us busy. Loved it!!