This was my 4th cruise, second for my Husband but first for our 2 children (14 & 11) AND the 3 other families who traveled with us. (17 passengers in total - 8 staterooms)
I had cruised with 3 different cruise lines before but NCL and the Pearl where by far my favorite cruise, and will look to them first for our next one.
NCL Freestyle cruising is just that -- FREESTYLE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU WANT.
Our group doesn't like to dress up - and the men only wear ties to funerals and weddings, so being able to have an amazing meal in casual pants and shirt was so refreshing, especially on a cruise ship, especially for my Husband who HAD to dress up for dinner on previous cruise.
Mornings we ate at the buffet or on the back deck outside to enjoy the warm Caribbean sun, and evenings we tried to get together to eat as a group. I arranged dinner for all 17 at the Italian and Steak house (both have surcharges) and both where delicious. We also ate at the Summer Palace and one night it was chicken wings and beer at the Blue Lagoon. Great to eat where you want.
We had 4 teenage boys in our group so they lived at the buffet several times a day to keep their stomachs full and the COCONUT ice cream was to die for. (YUM)
We did venture to the Stardust Theatre almost every night to see what was playing. Really enjoyed Second City Comedy and the Magician was also very good.
We enjoyed a mother/daughter massage and I uses the exercise facility several times - both very good.
Had a rock climbing wall competition between the boys/men and the kids used the outdoor sports courts and chess sets. Kids discovered they could play video games and buy chocolate bars with their room cards too ... LOL. (you can have charges restricted on any card if you prefer)
We visited NCL Private Island, Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Cozumel and booked shore excursions in each port. Most where top notch and would recommend, except for our choice in Cozumel, which we had serious safety issues with that where directed to the Cruise Line and tour company.
Ship was always clean and staff where always smiling and happy to see you. We had 2 connecting mini suites for our family of 4 (as did all of our group) and our room steward kept both rooms clean and we always enjoyed the towel animals on our beds/hanging from the ceiling each night.
We looked into the new NCL Inclusive drink package for $49/person per day. Since both adults in the party have to purchase it, it wasn't worth it for us. Instead the guys bought buckets of beer (6 for $25 - even had Canadian beer) and we purchased the wine package (6 bottles for $120) which worked great for us. Each child got the unlimited pop package and they got their money's worth.
Overall this was the best cruise I have been on. The ship and ALL the staff where always so happy to see you and the welcome home we received on the pier in Cozumel (live band and dancing) made the guests on the other 5 cruise ships in port wishing they where on our cruise because we where having so much fun
NCL offers something for everyone ... WASHY WASHY, HAPPY HAPPY is still being used in our house.