We had a 2.5 hour drive to NY from home and arrived about 10:30 a.m. at the port. We were given number 6 and told we would be able to go on board at 11:30. We were on board and cabins were ready by 11:15 a.m. Very smooth! We had 2 inside cabins 14615 and 14623. We have never had a balcony, so we don't know what we are missing. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with NCL and by far the best cabin location. We were only a few feet from the elevators and steps. The Garden Cafe' was one floor directly above us and took just a few seconds to get to. First thing we did was go to Guest Services to change some of our show times. You can book them early with NCL, but they only fill a limited amount of seats ahead of time, giving the people, who don't have access to the internet, space once they get on board. Guest Services directed us to the Box Office on Deck 7. You can only change dinner reservations near Guest Services. We were the first people in line. I made reservations for every show ahead of time, but just wasn't happy with the dates and times. They were offering 25% off to see the Cirque Dream Show the first night, so I changed all my show reservations. This was by far my family's favorite show and at $22.50 a person, more than worth it! We went approximately 30 minutes ahead and had a table to ourselves. I had purchased the dining package ahead of time for 3 restaurants for $57.00 a person. It included Le Bistro, La Cucina and Cagney's. We gave up the bottle of wine that comes with it if you dine at a specialty restaurant on the first night, but the 25% off the Cirque show more than made up for it. Make sure you print out the copy of all your reservation dates and times and then correct it, if you change it. We switched the Cagney's reservation and when we got there on the day and time we thought we changed it to, there was no record. The Maitre D was very nice and seated us anyway and later came over and said we had reservations for the following night. I don't know how that happened. Neither my husband or I remembered switching them to Sat.
Shelia our cabin steward was very attentive. Every time I needed her, I would just flip the cabin switch that alerted her I needed something. I brought a pen and paper and would leave her notes. Everything was taken care of very quickly. I brought a "dummy key" and she had no issues with that. The bathroom was the nicest we had ever experienced on a cruise. We were very impressed. There are only shampoo and soap dispensers in the shower. No conditioner. I brought everything and there is plenty of room to store all your toiletries. We had the beds put together, which made a queen size, for my husband and me. My kids had theirs separate, which was a better layout for walking around. We didn't end up totally unpacking because we didn't have any drawer space. There are shelves in the closet. We ended up keeping one suitcase open on the floor, which was fine. I brought my own hairdryer because of complaints from previous reviews, however I blew a fuse the first time I used it. The cabin dryer is sufficient, its cord just isn't very long. I did bring a small fan with an extension cord, to sleep with, so if there was noise, we didn't hear it. During the week the fan broke and we were able to replace it at a drug store in Hamilton. The store carried everything, Bermuda's version of a Target or Wal-Mart. We had lunch at the Garden Cafe', which turned out to be our favorite place to eat, toured the ship, and then watched as we left NY. Going past the Statue of Liberty is always amazing. Our bags arrived about 4 pm. The lifeboat drill was quick and easy. We had early reservations for the Cirque Show. The dinner and show was fantastic! Everyone who sees this show says the same thing---- not to be missed! We then went to the casino. I had pre-purchased casino dollars. $20.00 for $10.00. We had expected the smoke to be horrible, but it wasn't. The chandelier was pretty. Nice place for pictures. Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos was a lot of fun.
My husband is an early riser. He went to the jogging track most mornings by 6 a.m. It wasn't super busy at that point, but by 7 it was. I tried to walk on it the 1st day. You are always in someone's way. Its location is in a terrible spot and too small. My complaint about the jogging track is the worst thing I have to say about the ship. My husband would get us lounge chairs on deck 16 by 7, once he was done running. You have to get up early to get a chair. We saw staff every day going around and removing the towels if no one was sitting on them. If you want to save chairs, I would suggest you put not only your towel but also a piece of personal property. Some people had clips to keep the towel on the chair. I always put my book and sunscreen on it also, but there was always someone from my family at the chairs. The staff didn't remove the towels that also had something else with it.The pools were very crowded, so to cool off we would go on the water slide. Lines weren't bad.We would eat breakfast at the Garden Cafe', omelets made to order were the best. We decided not to purchase any drink or soda cards. The juice and flavored water was very good. We did bring a case of water and 2 cases of soda, which turned out to be the perfect amount for the 5 of us. We also brought our own large cups. We would just fill the cups with ice and carry them around with us. There is a wonderful man at the Garden Cafe' who would walk around with a coffee pot, with the biggest smile, saying good morning and asking if you wanted more coffee. We enjoyed him every morning!
We did do the arts and crafts with Gustev and made a frame. He was fun. Spent the entire day in the sun. Dinner was at Le Bistro, which turned out to be my husband's favorite meal of the cruise. He had the chicken. Service was great. We saw Burn the Floor. The dancers are incredible, much like Dancing with the Stars.
The next morning we all used the Fitness Center by 7:15. The treadmills had the longest wait. I think the fitness center is very state of the art. We really liked it. I had a hot dog at the Sabrett's stand, which was very good. I also purchased a cannoli at Carlos bakery. Dinner was at La Cucina. The pizza appetizer was delicious! We saw 2nd City and thought that was great!!!!! Very funny!!!!
I brought a highlighter and went through "Freestyle Daily", highlighting everything we wanted to do every day.
Bermuda: we purchased for $35.00 a person the 3 day ferry/bus pass. It would have been cheaper to buy the tokens separately, however, that would be a hassle. We ended up deciding to take a taxi to Tobacco Bay at about 8:30 am, figuring everyone else would go to Horseshoe Bay. It cost about $75.00, but we were the only ones on the beach. We went snorkeling and then walked to St. Catherine's. Again hardly anyone was there. The most people on the beach was 23 at one point. There is a small stand you can get drinks, hamburgs and hot dogs. We walked to St. George and took a ferry back. We went about 30 minutes early to catch the ferry and good thing we did, not everyone who was in line got on. The 2nd day we took a bus to Church Bay on the recommendation of our taxi driver. Again, great snorkeling, but also a nice area to lay out. Not many people there either. On the 3rd day we took the bus to the Gibbs lighthouse, amazing view of Bermuda and then walked to Horseshoe Bay. We purchased 3 hours of wifi for $6.00 to use while on the beach. You can also purchase it,right outside of the ship, for the same amount, to have internet service around the Dock Yard. Shopping at the Dock Yard seemed to be the best. The Glass Factory is the only place open past 5 pm. We went to a free John Lennon Concert one night at the Dock Yard. We all enjoyed it very much. Having the cold washcloths waiting for us when you boarded the ship was the best, after being out in the sun all day. We also enjoyed the "party" the staff greeted us with outside the ship, when we were leaving Bermuda and boarding the ship for the last time.
We enjoyed 2nd City so much, we skipped Rock of Ages and got in the standby line and were able to see 2nd City for a second time. Michael Finney was very enjoyable also. We loved Deal or No Deal. Cagney's was very good, but not our favorite. We ate in O'Sheehan's twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. Savor once, although we didn't have much of a wait to be seated at 5:30ish, it did take 1.5 hours for us to complete dinner. My husband loved the pies from Uptown Grill. Fireworks were so cool. We were able to see them perfectly on the left side of the boat on the 15th floor. We ran into Julie, the cruise director and she suggested it.
By Saturday we had enough sun. We went to the couches on the Waterfront, right outside of Spice H20. Hardly anyone is there. It was quite the find! We sat there reading books, undercover, with a breeze and hearing the waves crashing all day long. Paradise. The ship was rocking, although sitting at the Waterfront I didn't really feel it. However, my oldest daughter, who tried to sit by the pool, felt queasy and laid down. She took Bonine and was fine.
The rope course and water slides were so much fun. Make sure you have sneakers for the rope course. People are turned away with open back shoes. I went on it 2 different days. The kids area looked super fun.
I loved having all your photos in a binder. At one point we were missing pictures and I had 3 different people trying to track them down, which they did!
Our safe wouldn't open twice because our passports had fallen over blocking something inside. We had Dayanand Joorun, the head steward of the state rooms come to open it the 2nd time. He asked how our cruise was and we told him we were scared coming on the cruise initially because of the complaints we had read online. Apparently,the staff is aware of these complaints and are very upset by them. We told him how we didn't experience any negatives and found all staff to be incredibly nice and helpful, saying hello as we passed them. Our room steward, Shelia, worked so hard,she was the staff we came in the most contact with. He talked with us for awhile and appreciated our comments. Even offered to pick up up at the airport if we ever visited Mauritius, where he lives!
Our goal was to spend the least amount of money on the ship, because we felt we had spent enough for the cruise itself. I do feel going to the specialty restaurants were a plus, although we wouldn't have lost out if we chose not to go. I think the wait staff at the specialty restaurants went over and above to make sure you felt you got your money's worth.
Because of past reviews we decided to disembark by walking off with our luggage. We got up early, had breakfast and were in line by 7:15. To our surprise, we were standing out on the street in NY by 7:30 am! It couldn't have been any smoother or quicker!
This was our best family cruise. We would absolutely do it again! Love NCL!!!!!! Thanks for the memories!