To tell you the truth I was not expecting much after reading reviews here but actually glad I went expecting little because it made it that much better. We live an hour outside the city in NJ drove in to city around 10 and parked at Alliance on W 43rd st after dropping off wife and 2 sons (3 & 6 yrs old) (10 min walk to terminal) I chose this option simply because I didn't want to lug our baggage so dropping off to porter was easier. We had a penthouse family 2 BR suite so priority embarking was smooth and took us all but 5 minutes after returning from parking to be on the ship.
Went straight to Cagneys for lunch which was great then to the cabin which was ready about 1pm. We have cruised once Western Carib on Carnival Liberty 3 years ago w/ my older son and had a small suite but it was nothing like this. I can see how these suites are the first to get booked. Complete privacy for all and tons of room not to mention the shower w/ all those jets and tub overlooking the ocean my wife and kids favorite part.
Rough seas heading down to Cape Canaveral dodging a storm but nothing crazy. Kids took right to the kids club from the onset which was great for my wife and I. They were testing out new hours for kid's club 9-12pm, 2-5pm, 7-10pm so they would go for 2 hours at a clip here and there so it's not like it got overwhelming for them and they liked the fact it was broken up and they got to spend time as a family and time playing.
Nick themed cruise so they said....please. Ok the horrific breakfast for $20 a head consisting of cold pancakes and eggs was the highlight as this was the only time we saw the characters and turned out to be their favorite part of the cruise getting pics w/ all of them. Cape Canaveral didn't wanna waste time going to Disney on a short a stop so we went to Ron Jons Cape Caribe purchased a room for the night to use their water park which is amazing and the kids had a great day.
Off to Stirrup Cay what a beautiful little island. Kids had a blast in the ocean and we got some R & R lounging in the sun on a beautiful day that was perfect at 75 degrees. We are all for the freestyle cruise experience don't want to be told what time we have to sit down for dinner especially w/ the kids. This night we went to the french restaurant and had our best dinner of the 7 nights. Kids were well behaved and managed the 2 hours it took to complete our meal. We also went to Mamas, Cagneys, Zars 2 nights and buffet one night w/ kids. Kids joined us on 4 of the 7 meals other 3 we took them to buffet then to kids club while wife and I had some alone dining time so overall dining experience was perfect just wish the food was better. As for the food I'd give it a 5 out of 10 overall and pretty much was hit or miss. This I found was NCL's weakest part of the cruise experience. We ordered in for breakfast from Cagney's almost every morning which was probably the highlight of our dining experience. As for the best part of the cruise for us was the suite itself and the impeccable service top to bottom from our Steward Richie, butler Nelson concierge John made our cruise fabulous despite the below average food. These guys went out of their way and delivered on so many levels of service they should be commended for their efforts. Not to leave out the hosts/hostesses and 90% of the servers at the restaurants who were all eager to serve w/ a smile.
At Nassau we took a taxi after reading the horrible stories about the water taxis and not wanting to walk far w/ the kids. We purchased a day pass at the Riu which is next door to Atlantis which included open bar and food for the day as well as use of the beach and pool. We stayed here before and while it's not a luxury resort compared to Atlantis it's on the most beautiful stretch of beach in Nassau and it allowed us to simply walk next door to Atlantis.
Trip home was relaxing and we loved the 2 sea days to unwind using the spa frequently which we found to be excellent. The kids at this point really fell in love w/ the kid's club making friends and almost crying when it was time to go. I am an avid poker player so I took full advantage of the live no-limit $2/4 cash hold em game that took place each night around 11...so after the kids and wife went to sleep daddy spent a few hours at the table each night. Didn't quite pay for the cruise but let's just say the competition isn't like you would find in your typical card room at a casino. Similar faces each night very friendly table and lots of laughs, this was another highlight for me this vacation.
All in all a great cruise experience despite the below average food. I really hope NCL takes notice of these reviews about their food quality and goes to work on the menu....maybe a Gorden Ramsey intervention or something but it really needs menu face lift and new chefs. Despite this I'm still giving this cruise an 8 out of 10 and would not hesitate to book again w/ NCL that is if I can ever get my wife back on a ship as she is suffering badly w/ that maldisembarquement syndrome thing where she still feels like she's on the ship. She's a big researcher and has herself terrified that she's going to be like this forever so I pray it ends quickly because we love the cruise experience!