We drove down to New Orleans from St. Louis, MO. We decided to split the drive in half even though it is only a 10 hour drive, I hate being in the car. We spent Friday night in South Haven Mississippi and drove the rest of the way on Saturday. We stayed outside of New Orleans in Covington at the Courtyard. It was our family (husband, self and 2 daughters 14 and 9) This was my husband and I's 11th cruise and girls 9th. We have been on most of the major cruise lines. This was our 3rd on NCL.
Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise port at about 10:30AM. Our check in was very easy. We were on board the ship by 12:30. I think they had some kind of inspection that morning that delayed things a bit. I have never been on a NCL ship that had such a welcome when you stepped foot on the ship. The crew was cheering and clapping as you boarded saying welcome!
We immediately went and had lunch in Versailles. The service was slow with our waiter but others were getting their food and gone way before us. It didn't bother us though because we had time to kill before we could go to our cabin.
Cabin: We were on the 11th floor. We had two inside cabins for our family. My daughter really put it in perspective. She said Mom this cabin is smaller than your bedroom closet. Luckily we had 2 cabins for the 4 of us. There are no connecting inside cabins on the star so my husband shared a cabin with our youngest and I with the oldest. The cabin was one of the smallest I had ever seen. The bathroom though was one of the biggest. Shower actually had a glass door. One day our cabin steward left us chocolate covered Strawberries saying they were from him. I thought this was a great touch!
Dining: Breakfast we usually ate in the buffet. We did have breakfast in the dining room once and Blue Lagoon once. The waffles at the buffet were really good and so were the omelets. It was always a nightmare to find a seat in the buffet.
Lunch we ate at Blue Lagoon a couple of times which was good. On one of the port days they actually had a different menu that had potato skins, mozzarella sticks, meatloaf, plus many other choices! My family thought the wings were very good and I enjoyed the chicken tenders. The biscuit they served with it was hit or miss. One day it was really good if I put jelly on it. Nice and soft. The next day it could have easily been used as a hockey puck. The grill by the pool was fairly good. Hamburgers were good but the hot dogs were just ok. Potato salad was pretty good. Lunch buffet just didn't look appetizing to us. Plus again you had to really hunt to find a table. We missed not have a pizza station out by the pool.
We mainly went to the Versailles for dinner. We did go to Aqua once but didn't care for the closed in feel of it. One thing to note is that it appears they have a couple of small difference in the always available menu, which surprised us. Versailles had strip steak and Aqua had rib eye steak. They had a nice selection for the always available, more choices than most ships. It did seem that their specials menu (the items that change each day was kind of small). The main course had several choices but the starters didn't have many selections. Again not a big deal as they always had broccoli cheese soup or French onion soup! The starters were always good, entrees fair to good and desserts were usually very bland. After the first few days I just stuck to the sherbet.
One night we decided to eat at Moderno the Brazilian restaurant. The surcharge for this is $20pp. I have been to a Brazilian restaurant before, but my husband hadn't. The salad bar was good, but if you are just going for the salad don't spend the extra money. They give you green/red cards. If your card is turned on green that means you are ready for your meats and sides. They start bring all sorts of meat around. Sausages, chicken, lamb, beef. I was really looking forward to the filet mignon. I found it very disappointing. It was tough and chewy. Most all the meats had a very distinct spice added to it. I like things seasoned well but this spice was very strong. The smell was actually making me feel sick. I moved the meat and put it on my daughter's plate because I couldn't stand it. My husband who really loves meat was not overly happy with it either. The best thing of the whole meal was this pineapple that had cinnamon on it. Very yummy. The dessert they offered also wasn't very good.
Activities/Entertainment: Shows were good to ok. I really enjoyed Band on the Run. Shout, the mod musical I thought the story line was awful. Don't take kids if you don't want to answer some questions later. Nothing against the singers they did what they were supposed to well. I also didn't like it because they only had 5 people in it and never really changed costumes. The Elements show was pretty good but watching it at 9:45 was just too late. The acrobatic performers from Russia were great!
We enjoyed the pool deck but it definitely got crowed. Get out there early for a chair. I actually got in the pool a couple of times. Even the pool itself and around it was packed with people. They had numerous pool games going on throughout the day.
We felt the evening activities were very lacking. To me there were really only a couple of areas you could go, Stardust theater which was the main showroom, Spinnakers Lounge, it was good on a couple of nights it had the perfect couple game and Dancing with the stars. You could go to the casino but we never went in. They did have music in the atrium and usually karaoke in the Red Lion. There was the White Hot Party one night in Spinnakers and a deck party on another night. I did like how they usually had early parties for families on those 2 nights.
NCL is great for children. My girls like it better than Disney's kids club. My 9yo always wanted to hang out in the kids club on every NCL we have been on. I would go pick her up and she was like go away. When we went on Disney I always got a call within 30 minutes sayings she was crying and wanted to come out. The opposite was true on NCL. She was in a group for 6 to 9yo's. My 14 year old was in the teen club and really enjoyed that in the evenings. They would do scavenger hunts, games and dance parties!
The Latitudes party was nice. Complimentary drinks, music and prizes. The server even got my daughter a special drink.
Ports/Shore Excursions: 4 ports
Our first stop was Costa Maya! We love it there! We had prearranged an all inclusive day with Nohoch Kay. We took a taxi there from outside the port gates that cost $2pp each way. We were set up with our beach chairs and given menus to order our drinks and food the rest of the day. My daughter had fried fish that she said was really good. I had beef nachos that were loaded. My husband had fish and shrimp tacos that he said were great! I took a bite of it and it was really good and I don't even eat fish! The water was very pretty, many areas of clear water and other areas of sea grass in the water. I would definitely go back. The owner is a great guy!
Our next stop was Belize. We have already been here multiple times before so we didn't plan anything. We did tender to the port for about 30 minutes of walking around and then tendered right back to the ship.
Our next day we visited Roatan and this ended up being our favorite port for this cruise. We have been to Roatan 3 other times. Mahogany Bay was our favorite beach on our last cruise. We had been to Tabayana Beach before and it wasn't very good weather so we didn't really enjoy the excursion. This time we arranged to go to Bananarama on West Bay beach. We were provided with transportation to the beach, a beach lounger and a soda or punch. The weather was perfect that day. The water was so smooth and clear. Initially the beach vendors started hounding us about hair braiding and buying stuff but after several no thank you's they let up. There were 2 Bananarama security guards standing on the beach the whole time. The vendors couldn't cross a certain line. We ordered pizza at their restaurant and it was delicious. It is something about eating pizza at the beach that makes it so much better than at home! All too soon we headed back to the port!
Our final port is Cozumel and we already knew that we loved this port! We did the All inclusive beach break at Mr. Sancho's. Usually the water is a perfect turquoise. The seas have always been really calm when we have been here. This time the surf was crazy. All kinds of waves. The water was very stirred up. The girls usually do the aqua park here but the water was so rough that they couldn't get up on anything. The food and drinks were still great, as well as the service!
Overall: Great time had by all! They said there were 700 kids on this ship but to me it didn't seem like hardly any. It was a much older crowd on this ship. Any age group is fine by me as long as everyone is well behaved. It never failed we would sit by someone in the dining room or in ports that liked to complain. Oh well, we just thought it was funny and moved on. It became the running joke!
The day I came back from our cruise I was ready for another one, of course I'm sure the foot of snow we had on the ground when we arrived home (I had on flip flops and Capri's) had something to do with that. LOL