This was our sixth cruise, but our first with NCL. I want to first say, THANK GOD WE UPGRADED TO THE HAVEN!
If you book the in the Haven suites, note that there is a VIP check in for Haven only guests. So you won’t have to stand in the long lines for check in. This is not clearly marked so if you are embarking from the port of Miami, when you walk in, there is a little sign on the left on the wall that says VIP CHECK in. This is where you need to go. They will have everything ready for you, and then whisk you away to your very own VIP holding room where they have juice and snacks for you to partake in while you are waiting to get on the ship. This was very nice. Within about 15 minutes our butler came to show us to the HAVEN suites, and show us around the HAVEN area. BUT…. Before even the HAVEN guest were allowed to get on the ship, they were letting "visitors” on the ship to show them around, and they were all kinds of in the way during our tour. Anyway, by the time the tour of the HAVEN was over, we were able to get into our room. Room 16017. This room is beautiful. It’s a two room family suite, with two bathrooms. The master bath has a full size tub and separate shower. Both with full length glass walls looking out at the ocean, and other ships at port. The second bathroom had a full shower as well, which was a good thing because we brought our 16 year old daughter with us. The second room was a little cramped but who spends a lot of time in their rooms anyway? Oh wait. We did. One of the reasons was because the ship was SOOOOO crowded everywhere else BUT the HAVEN. 4200 people on the ship and only a couple hundred in the Haven. We only had four people in our pool at any given time and always one of the hot tubs to ourselves. We talked to other guests who said they couldn’t get in the lower pools or get a pool side chair due to the overcrowding. A few of us were a little sea sick because this ship rocks like crazy. But they have puke bags in every stairwell. Nothing like the OASIS of the SEAS.
Let’s talk about the food. First in the "Garden Café,” I can explain this in one word. YUCK. The same food was served all seven days we were on the ship. Hamburgers cooked so well done that you could use them for hockey pucks. Hot dogs were well done as well, and the buns, (if you could find one) were hard and stale. There was a spot where you could make a salad. Not much to choose from to dress your salad up. And some days you were lucky if there was even any lettuce to make a salad with. The lines are horrible. You don’t know where one line starts and where one ends. With this being our first time on a NCL cruise, we weren’t sure what the process was. We thought that you stood at the end of a line, and worked your way through until you got where you wanted to. This is not the case. The lines start where there are stacks of plates and ends where that section ends. Then there are more plates. Good luck getting in line. That’s all I’m saying. Trying to find a seat after you have picked out our not so delicious food is also a real treat. Good luck. By the time we would find our seat, our food was cold. So now we had cold, over cooked food to try to choke down. Not fun. There are also little buffets in the pool areas. (With the same well done thing that are on the buffet in the garden café) By Thursday I was all ready to not eat again until our dinners we had booked. I was so done with cold tasteless, over cooked food. And then we remembered… We have the Haven restaurant. So we ended up going there for Breakfast. It was like lights came down from heaven and angels were singing. The food was great. It came out fast. And it was hot!! Great food. I wish we would have remembered the Haven restaurant sooner in our cruise.
O’ Sheehan’s pub served the same dried up hamburgers with hard stale buns. My husband ordered meat loaf. What came out to our table was something that didn’t resemble meat loaf at all. It looked like it was sliced off a slab of spam, kind of resembled dog food. My husband said it tasted like it as well.
The Moderno: In this restaurant they bring different slabs of meat that you can choose from until you are full. They give you a card. One side of the card is green, the other is red. When you want more food, turn your card to green. When you are finished, turn it to red. And they should stop coming. (But they don’t) They have a salad bar (very small salad bar, with very little items to choose from) that you get to visit before they start bringing out the meat. We were not impressed. I give the food a C- in this restaurant.
The Teppanyaki: This is a hibachi style Japanese restaurant. This restaurant was great. It was nice to finally get some good food. The cook put on a great show. However it was real loud in there. All the cooks were putting on the same act and banging their salt and pepper shakers on the grill. But, the food and entertainment all in all was fantastic.
Cirque Dreams & Dinner Premium Seating: (no cameras or video recorders allowed) The show was AWESOME!! I cannot say enough good things about the entertainment here. The performers were great. Some of the things they did just blew my mind. I was picked to go on stage and preform with their group in one of their acts. Later on in show, my husband was also pulled up on stage during a little skit. It was very cool. I wish we would have been able to take some pictures. Even without a flash, they would have still turned out. The food however was just okay. You couldn’t order what you wanted. They had a set menu that they would serve you. If you don’t like what’s on the menu, you’re out of luck my friend.
Entertainment: Legends in Concert. Steven Tyler, Katy Perry, and Elvis were the "Legends” during our cruise. (Again… No camera or video cameras allowed.) The guy that was impersonating Steven Tyler was great. He looked and sang just like him. The Katy Perry impersonator was more irritating than the real Katy Perry. (To be a legend, don’t you have to be in the business for a while or is that just me?) Elvis looked like Elvis, Kind of… if you were about a ¼ mile away…going 30 mph…in the rain! He kind of did. When you got up closer, not so much. I’m not sure why you couldn’t take pictures here, because they aren’t the real thing after all. I guess it’s just another way for NCL to make money off the cruisers. You can take you picture with the performers after the show… But then you have to pay 20.00 for the picture.
Second Comedy show. One word. LAME. They were not very funny. It was basically an hour of my life I will never get back. It was terrible.
Blue Man Group: Awesome show! The show lasted a little over an hour and it was the best entertainment I have ever seen on a ship. It’s definitely a must see. We saw it twice.
Like I said before, the ship was very crowded. I have read past reviews where they describe it as being like down town New York City, or as busy as Black Fridays are. They were so right on with that description. The elevators are stupid busy. We usually walk the stairs. We have no problem taking the stairs, a little bit of exercise to work off all the food we have eaten that week. But sometimes we wanted to take the elevators. Everyone tries to cram into them. There could be 12 people already in there, and 6 more cram their selves in. Not a very comfortable place to be with hot, sweaty, people breathing on each other. No mid ship lifts. That would interrupt the flow through the casino. A random guitar player, fiddler, piano player at the weirdest places in open public areas. I think I even saw a kazoo band.
Teen Club: Our 16 year old daughter thought the teen club was great. There was always something going on. They had fun games which made the kids interact with each other. Not just sit in a corner by yourself. They had a "scavenger hunt” where they had to go through the ship and talk to other cruise passengers or crew, have them sing 10 seconds of a song, get it on video and take it back. She is it was a lot of fun.
All said and done, we will never cruise the Norwegian way again. Back to RCI.
Getting to Atlantis was a mess. There are no signs on where to meet when you get off the ship. You have to ask everyone you come across where is the Aquaventure tour? They just keep telling you to go down that way... Finally we get to the meeting place. Where everyone is crowded together. They ask you if you have already filled out your release form. No... So you have to do that before you get your wrist band. All in all, It's about an hour and a half before you actually get to Atlantis. Once you get there, The tour guide takes you through the casino, turn after turn after turn. (it's a maze) Finally they let us loose. After all of the "tour" stuff was done, we were set free. First thing we did was the mile long "lazy river". This river wasn't lazy. It's the most fun I have ever had riding on a lazy river. It took us about an hour to get all the way through it. Then we went to the "ruins slide". You had a little bit of a wait to go on this... but it was so worth it. And before we left Atlantis, we went to "the Dig" which is an under ground aquarium. That was very cool too. When it was time to leave... We took a taxi. I wasn't about to ride the bus again. Even if it was free.
We took a Taxi to Maho beach first thing in the morning. We were able to purchase 3 beach chairs 10.00 each. It was well worth it. This beach is famous for the airport right behind it. Sunset bar right next to the beach and it gets crowded the later in the afternoon it gets. The prices are a little high there though. For three sodas it cost $9.00 Cash only. Unless you are purchasing more than $40.00, then you can use your credit card. It also has a sign listing all the big incoming flights for the day. If you feel that it's too pricey you can walk up the beach to a little store get 3 sodas and a bag of chips for $6.00
When we got to St. Thomas, we got cab and went up to Coral World where had previously purchased a Snuba excursion from Coral World it's self. (It's less expensive when you do it this way, and you aren't stuck crowding in a big open air bus with a bunch of people, PLUS you are giving your money to the community, not more to the ship) Anyway, the snuba experience was with Todd, our snuba instructor was amazing. Todd was great. My husband and I are both certified scuba divers, but our daughter wasn't. She has always wanted to try it. So we thought this would be the best for her, just to see if she could do it. Todd took his time explaining everything to our daughter. And even held her hand until she got out in the water farther to where she was comfortable.