I love reading reviews so thought I would write one to give some tips. Did not care for this ship and agree with all of the reviews regarding horrible smoking policy. There were almost no areas to sit where you were not inundated with second hand smoke. I am writing as honestly as I can. If I knew what I know now I would cancel with my insurance and book another cruise ship. I absolutely loved the allure of the seas! I like big ships with lots to do. Crowds do not bother me, neither do New Yorkers as I find them friendly and somewhat entertaining when they are loud and boisterous.
Pros: Got on board at 11 and into rooms with luggage delivered faster than any ship I have ever sailed on.
Had a great room- large balcony cabin
Loved the garden cafe and thought the food was good
Liked the itinerary with only one port for three days
Liked some of the shows including burn the floor and the comedy shows
Never waited at the dining room for a table despite trying several different times (only ate at the free ones, mainly Manhatten) Thought the food was very good.
Easy walk off at 7:30 am
Did not experience any long wait for elevators
Always found seating when I cared to sit- never sat at the pool because of crowds and smoke
Water slides really fun and never had to wait
Smokers everywhere but the worst was casino which was central to everything inside the ship
So many restricted areas- never found a quiet place to sit and relax that wasn't in the sun. Chairs were sooo uncomfortable
Crew really mixed as far as helpful/friendly. Never got a straight answer from most.
Bars are the closest to a pool I have ever seen on a ship and guess what? People who sit at bars smoke.
Pool is a joke- the size is crazy small.
Exercise room is incredibly small for a ship this size....really???
Crew does not enforce rules regarding age of kid in jacuzzi or cigar smoking in your face but when we wanted to take our 15 year old neice into the health club to work out we were told no!! Really? She's an athlete and needs to exercise. Had to fill out forms at guest services to allow it and then it was only after 7pm.
Noise from theatre was insane in my sisters cabin 9441 and 9445. It was if you are sitting in the theatre. I can not believe they sell these cabins. When we complained they sent up a plate with four small chocolates on them. Really??? Management is totally lacking on this ship. We are writing a formal complaint. Spent 5000.00 dollars on two rooms and they were filthy. Had dust three inches thick, a tampon and various other things found in the shelves and under the bed. I'm really not kidding.
They tell you to use your tv to check your balance from day one. It appeared that all on board credit was going towards the service fee which I thought was great as we don't spend that much on board. The last day you get a letter with how much on board credit is remaining and guess what? All of our on board credit was remaining. Really??? We can spend it all in 4 hours? That's what they suggested. No reservations left for the restaurants, no spa appointments left etc. Please beware and get a print out of your charges/credit daily. Why on earth do they have it on the tv if it "doesn't talk to their computers and they don't match". ? Apparantly it is on ncl.com if you so desire to read all the fine print that you can no longer put your on board credit toward your service charges. I didn't take the time to read their entire website so shame on me. The lady in front of me in line was a travel agent and she didn't even realize they changed their policy. I just thought it was a sneaky way for you to not spend your onboard credit.
Manhatten dining room is chaotic and totally understaffed. If you have cruised before throw out the window any memories you have of having that lovely service and of getting to know your waiter. There is also a lady crooning the whole time you are trying to talk with your family-who's idea is that? A little quiet back ground music is nice people.
Rock of Ages is the musical they have chosen...really? Again restrictive due to the contents. The music is good but you can book cabins on the 9th floor to hear that if you don't care to go to the show.
The ship was very clearly designed as a money making ship. The casino is smack dab in the middle and it honestly wreaks of smoke.
Get there early on day of departure. Go to the 16th deck all the way forward and sit on the right side. You will be in the shade and have a great view going under the bridge.
Book a balcony cabin but bring nose plugs if you hate smoke.
You need CASH to buy your transportation passes in Bermuda- no credit cards
Take the ferries as they are much quicker and fit a lot of people
There is a free wifi hotspot we found in Bermuda near the ferry dock. It is a french bistro I think called Bouchee.
Do like you would at disney and think opposite from the crowd. Get up early and get your food/seat/space in line for ropes course etc. If you go to ropes course 30 minutes before opening you will be first in line.