I just returned from a wonderful cruise to Florida and the Bahamas! I took one of my best friends on her very first cruise (she just turned 55!) and we had a blast! I was a bit skeptical after reading all the various reviews but decided that I was going to go with an open mind. And I am glad I did! Yes, there is some truth to some of the negative reviews BUT for the most part, the rest is just a matter of opinion. And I noticed that most of the negative reviews were from travelers with larger groups or families. This was my 2nd NCL cruise (I cruised the Star last October to Bermuda) and it was terrific!
Let's start at the beginning. We traveled from Boston to NYC via JetBlue and took car service from JFK to Terminal. Embarkation was a breeze! Since I am a Latitude and Casino member, there was no line, no waiting. I think we may have waited about 15mins to be called but we were so excited, the wait was barely noticed. Our cabin wasn't quite ready, so we explored the ship, checked out the casino and had a cocktail. When we stopped to grab some lunch, we me the most amazing person. She is a 'perpetual cruiser' and a self-proclaimed NCL Ambassador! She gave us some great insight and tips as she re-upped and was cruising again (apparently she didn't get off the ship). She has been on 200+ cruises of which majority of them have been with NCL.
Our cabin was AWESOME! We had a Mid ship Mini-Suite and yes, the balcony is small but since its only the two of us, it was perfect. We had plenty of storage space throughout the cabin, from the closet to under couch drawers to the bathroom. Between us two girls, there was space to spare! Since it was her birthday cruise, I had wine and strawberries delivered to the room and they were delicious! We met, Edwin, our room steward, who was wonderful! He remembered that we needed extra towels and always came after 10am to make up our room (we like to sleep in). We even had some cute towel animals to greet us!
We paid for the dining options (La Cucina, Le Bistro and Cagneys). Well worth it! Cagney's was the favorite followed closely by La Cucina. Le Bistro was great for my friend but not so much for me as I am borderline vegetarian (I don't eat red meat, fish or game). They did make me a wonderful veggie option but not very filling. We at ate Manhattan Room and Taste once each and they were both yummy! Our last nite, we were offered a complimentary dinner at Tappenakyi and it was delicious! The chefs were entertaining and the food was fresh.
The Casino was very smoky (and my friend who smokes even said it was a bit overpowering) but we put our clothes on the balcony each nite and they were fresh in the morning. I didn't venture to the pool but she did and she said it was nice but had to go to upper deck to get a lounge chair away from the kids. Got a bit windy some days but she still got a tan! We also saw Rock of Ages! So brought us back to the days of Aqua Net and acid washed jeans! The cast was amazing!
Great Stirrup Cay was BEAUTIFUL! White sandy beaches, blue waters...everything you read about...the only downside was the BBQ. There needs to be a more streamlined process but the food itself wasn't bad. Took almost 45mins to get thru the line.
Bahamas was wonderful as well. Atlantis was just like the commercials and although we didn't participate in any of the paid excursions, we were still able to get around and see some sights. Cab rides are reasonable ($5pp).
We did engage in the onboard Bingo, Trivia, Deal or No Deal and Casino tournaments. Although we didn't win at any of them, it was fun and we met some awesome people!
The NCL staff all around was great too...some of the reviews mentioned how some were not pleasant. I couldn't find one person who DIDN'T have a smile on their face (from the lady tidying up the ladies room to the casino host).
Disembarkation was a breeze. We signed up for 8:45am. Got called at 8:20am and on the sidewalk by 9:00am. Customs officials are very regimented and organized. As long as you can find your luggage in the corral, you are on your way!
Overall, use these reviews as guidelines, not bibles. Everyone has different experiences and opinions. While I write that mine was awesome, the family that was in the cabin next to me may not have felt the same.
I pre-booked my next cruise on NCL! Just having a hard time deciding which ship and where to go!