3 night Bahama November 22
Who went: two female 50+ BFFs
This was my 39th cruise. It was my friends first
This cruise was an incentive to go on a time sharing tour. Definitely worth the 90 minutes I gave to the time share company! They work with Spirit incentives. Note that if you ever have to deal with this company, their dates are very narrow and if you can’t go when they want to send you then you forfeit the trip. My friend and I made sure we could go when they said. And, we did not take their upgrades, insurance or anything else offered because they were overpriced. We just had to pay the taxes on the airfare and cruise (including port charges) Just be aware that in those charges they tack on a fee of their own that allows you to change the date of your trip. You can turn down that fee and they have to take it off but they don’t tell you it is in the price they quote you (of the taxes) unless you ask!
We flew down on Spirit Air. I call it the nickel and dime airline. They charge you to pick your seats, to bring on a carry on and even $3 for soda or water. Here is something I learned: although they “charge” you $30 to use the overhead space, if there is space available after the zone one people get on, anyone can use it at no charge. They still stop you if you have a carryon that can’t fit under the seat but you don’t have to put it there if there is space above.
Spirit incentives (supposedly no relation to Spirit air) insists that you fly down the night before which is a good practice anyway but then they try to get you in one of their hotels for $125/ night. We passed on that and booked our own. They also flew us into FLL and we had to get to the port of Miami on our own. I had found SAS transportation and for $15 pp each way they picked us up at our hotel and took us to Miami. So, I was looking for a hotel on the SAS pick up list that also had free FLL airport pickup and as a bonus had breakfast included. I settled on the Comfort Inn airport hotel in Hollywood, FL. The prices here were all over the place but I ended up getting it for $71 including taxes from getaroom.com. The hotel was ok. Nice looking pool area. The room was adequate. When we walked in there was an unpleasant smell. My friend described it as a bottle of Febreze exploding. But, we turned the a/c all the way up and soon the smell dissipated. Other than that, it was fine considering we arrived at 11:30 at night and were out at 11 am.
SAS was great. They were on time and the driver, Larry, was very pleasant. I had forgotten a prescription at home and when I asked Steve at SAS on the phone, he said that Larry would be happy to stop so I could run into CVS and pick up my replacement script.
Although I have been on 39 cruises, this was my first experience with NCL (I am elite on Princess and also enjoy Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Carnival: not so much!) I was impressed at check in. It was a breeze and I like the extra touch that the check in agent walks you to the corridor to make sure you find your way to the boarding area.
Note: NCL has been having trouble with TDBank debit cards! They put a $150 hold on our cards at check in but once we had exhausted that the bank would not allow more. We didn’t find this out until the second day. If we didn’t come up with another form of payment, we would not be allowed to charge on board. We ended up going to the ATM and giving cash for our accounts. We were reimbursed the $5.50 ATM charge. I advise that if you are using a TD Bank debit card to request a larger hold on your card when you embark.
We were at the pier at 12:30 and were on board less than 20 minutes later. Our cabin was not ready until 2. We had lunch at the Great Outdoor café and then went on the spa tour. We both treated ourselves to facials.
If you are going to use the spa, note that there is usually some sort of a first day promotion. We were not told about this and I think it is because we were ready to book and did not need to be convinced. But, I asked because I knew about this from previous cruises. The promo was an extra 15 minutes if you were getting a massage and for the facials we received an eye treatment.
Also, when you do the spa raffle, they say the prize is $500 in spa treatments. Actually, that is the added up total for 3 prizes. They gave away a facial, a massage and a body test from the fitness dept. My friend won the massage, which had a $150 value.
The ship itself was very nice. I am used to Princess so I thought it was a scaled down version of that line. I was a little worried because my last cruise was Carnival and it was very TACKY! The Sky was very clean and the art on the stairwells was lovely.
Our cabin was on 6A. Note that if you wend up on this level: you have to get there from 7, not 6 and it is a stairway not far from the atrium. You have to take separate stairs for the starboard and the port hallways because they do not connect. There is no elevator going there so if you can’t walk the steps don’t book a cabin in that area. A little inconvenient but a very private area.
We were in 6109, an inside cabin. Roomy enough for us. Typical cruise ship cabin. Quiet location.
Ricardo was our cabin steward. A very lovely man! Makes great towel animals!
We chose the dining package online before we started the cruise. For $57 each, we were able to eat at Cagney’s, Le Bistro and Adagio. It was a small savings and also we received one bottle of wine. This was well worth it. BTW, even if you don’t drink it right away, the bottle must be “claimed” the first night and then they will mark it and hold it for you. You can bring it to your cabin or drink it in any other restaurant.
Although we pre-reserved the times, none of the specialties were ever crowded and we were able to switch the reservations as necessary. Each had it’s own unique personality and the food was very good and the service was as well.
Speaking of service, I read on many reviews that the staff was unfriendly. This was not true for us. Everyone we met on board was pleasant and as nice as I have seen on any other cruise.
There was so much to do in a short period of time. We didn’t do half the activities we could have liked. They had the standard trivia and games and Not the Newlywed game etc. There was a scavenger hunt and a bar hop. We did enjoy the session where we learned how to do circus tricks like juggling, plate spinning, devil sticks.
We saw two shows. Showdown and Las Vegas. The quality was very high. And the dancing and singing were among the best I have seen on ships. The comedian was funny and he filled Dazzles Nightclub.
There was a Welcome Aboard show but we missed it.
I never once saw the cruise director (Joel) but I did see his assistants all over.
There were the standard shops on board with the typical tables outside offering the daily sales of watches and inch of gold. The CZ Fire table: cubic ziroconia jewelry set in rhodium was very popular.
It was annoying that there was no guide to what movies would be on TV. I also missed the morning tv show given by the cruise directors on Princess that talk about all the goings on for the day.
We were lucky that we had good weather. I had read on Cruise Critic that Great Stirrup Cay had been cancelled for a few sailings because of bad weather. Our day there started a little overcast but soon became sunny and beautiful. Early birds went ashore in the tenders as early as 8 am. We waited until no tickets were needed for the tenders, but so did a lot of other people. The line was a bit disorganized which lead to a lot of people cutting in and causing hard feelings. Hey, people! Everyone wants to get ashore. Please wait your turn! A crewmember situated on the stairs would have solved this problem.
The beach was beautiful. Plenty of seats but not much shade. Lots to do there, although there was an extra charge for most things including snorkeling, tubes and use of the giant “hippo” inflatable. Note that the snorkeling trail is “manmade.”
They are doing a lot of building at the site and we wondered if they were putting in a small water park.
The buffet was plentiful. It was nice to see unpeeled lichees and coconut among the fruit. Water and iced tea were available for drinks, everything else (just like on the ship) was available for a charge.
There was live music and the cruise staff leading the dancing and other activities.
A very lovely and fun day!
Apparently the big thing in Nassau is to go over to Atlantis on Paradise Island. There are lots of ship excursions there and also many people went there on their own. I have been there so we decided not to go.
There were other excursions including snorkeling and touring the Island. We decided to stick closer to the ship and visit Bay Street for some shopping.
The street itself is full of history and interesting architecture. It is very clean and safe.
Of course they had the standard Diamonds International and all of the usual jewelry stores and ship sponsored spots. Tee shirt shops galore and also a few nice local shops. And, there is also a Starbucks! There is a straw market packed with tourist goodies but I don’t care for shopping while being pestered to buy. The wood carver area of the straw market was the most interesting to us.
We made our purchases mostly from ladies who had set up tables along Bay Street. They were not pushy and they had a lot of original and handmade items. Jewelry made from shells and compacted sand, hand painted silk, handmade musical instruments, sea glass, purses made from straw but beautifully designed. I especially liked this ladies work: https://www.facebook.com/DorimadeDesigns
One of the ladies we met told us that only “17%” of cruise ship passengers actually come to Bay Street because they are all over at Atlantis.
We stopped for lunch at Conch N Kalik in Pompey Square. A local woman stopped when she saw us looking lost and asked us if we were looking for a place to eat. She recommended this place and we were glad we stopped. It was clean, had a nice view and free wifi. (Starbucks charges $3 per hour) We had conch fritters, conch chowder, local beer (Kaliks) and I had a Mango Rum tea. Good, clean place to stop.
Disembarkation was a breeze. Evern that was Free Style because you could choose when you wanted to leave the ship. Timed tags were available and you just chose the one you wanted, without having to worry about being assigned the correct time. We left with the last group and called SAS, who was there within 10 minutes to get us back to FLL.
I would absolutely cruise with NCL again and my friend now understands why I love to cruise!