Great cruise, after fogged embarkation mess it was all uphill for a fantastic week in Central America and SE Mexico! This was our 3rd cruise our last being 8 years ago on Celebrity, and seemed to be the best! What we really liked:
- The excellent evening and poolside musical entertainment, especially Tim the comedian and some great small bar piano & guitar playing were our favorites.
- Just the "paid for" food was very good in the main Venetian and Aqua (smaller portion restaurant, "healthier"). We did the buffet for lunches and would rate it a B, but many times took our plates out poolside to eat since we enjoyed incredible weather the entire week - - NO RAIN or more than one day of moderate seas. We did the Italian La Cucina restaurant once for a small upcharge and both the food quality and smaller scale more attentive wait staff were worth it. We also did dailymorning room service breakfast to settle the stomach and get the first cups of coffee, but it would have been nice to have a few more food options (eg, pancakes) at that.
- The poolside was busy but we could always find a quiet spot on the forward small decks by the hidden hot tub. Oh yes, hot tubs were not hot but pretty much 82 deg which was the temp of the pool and the ocean so think of them as "jetted" tubs, kinda weird , a minor quibble.
- We planned this from the start as a "budget cruise", saving our money for a 40th anniversary biggie next year, so went with an interior 10th deck room getting a free upgrade from a 4th deck priced room. No problems and the room staff was very attentive, left us towel animals each night. No room noise problems, everything in the room worked and short of upgrading to a suite at over 2X the price we had as much room as one with a port hole. I know the bathroom size and layout was better than our last Celebrity ship.
- We did two shore excursions: a general island visit on Roatan including an interesting stop feeding iguanas and nice private beach plus an easy snorkeling visit on Cozumel that was better than I thought being near the city. The Belize tour had sold out and Costa Maya was not impressive (too commercial, expensive souvenirs and food, we'd seen plenty of Mayan ruins on a earlier visit to SE Mexico). Cozumel had the best shops & booze deals plus free internet if you bought a $1 beer.
- We picked NCL due to their informal freestyle dining including no need to dress up and really did like that - NO SUITS NEEDED. My take: This is the tropics for gosh sakes, golf and Hawaiian shirts fit just fine! My wife however does like some formal activity and is more of a looker than me.
Only two problems the entire week:
- Embarkation - - after a bad fog morning the ship was over 3 hours late and we got on 3 hours late waiting in 2 hours of lines (1 hour in the hot sun, NCL needed to be more pro-active with water stations the entire time and misting people or putting out some shade). Once on we left port we were only 1 hour late and disembarkation the following week went smoothly.
- Every where you turn they are trying to sell stuff. We don't drink much and kept to a $200 bar bill (including two bottles of wine; the restaurants will hold those for you night to night). TIP:
Bring some insulated jugs and fillup on free lemonade and ice tea after a lot of free coffee in the morning. But I can see if you used a few specialty restaurants, drank booze a lot, bought the raffles or gambled plus a bunch of shore excursions or photos (huh, in the digital age, who buys photos?) you could spend as much on extras as the entire cruise cost.
Overall we had a great time and will strongly consider NCL if their itineraries match our needs for our 40th anniversary cruise next year.