First of all thank you to all you fellow cruisers who really helped to make our cruise worth every minute. We took the advice of others, decided what we wanted (balcony stateroom, posh pass, chef's table and reservations for Blue Man Group, Legends, Circus Ole and all excursions). Only downside is that we learned we really should have splurged on a Haven Spa Suite after a tour of the Haven and Thermal Spa...we will definitely spend the extra for an over the top vacation next time.
The things I feared from the reviews ended up to not be a problem at all.
Posh Pass - meant a quite area to enjoy the outdoors in comfort, reading my book, listening to music and having drinks and snacks/meals being brought right to me never feeling crowded.
Smoke - not as horrible a problem as I read about. They have limited the smoking area in the casino and have some sort of clean air machines that work. Smoke gives me a headache, makes my nose run and I sneeze uncomfortably...none of which I experienced in the interior of the ship. I WISH THE GUY ON THE BALCONY UPSTAIRS FROM US WOULD HAVE LOST HIS SMOKES...I HATED HAVING TO CLOSE MY BALCONY DOOR TO AVOID HIS SMOKE. Problem solved on our next cruise, stay in the Haven where no smoking is allowed on the balcony. I also wrote a suggestion in my review that NCL change their balcony smoking rule for those of us who have a terrible reaction to smoke...not to mention the health risk involved with second hand smoke.
Too many people: not a problem whatsoever. Even mentioned to my husband at our second very private dinner that we never really waited for food or felt crowed at shows or entertainment venues. Even had quite time at piano bar, jazz club, watching a movie under the stars and at Wasbi with only a few other couples in attendance.
Waiting for Food or Bad Food: We had the chef's table one night...more than excellent and worth every penny. Sushi twice that was $16.50 the first visit and $26 the second with a Martini and the red wine from the bottle we purchased at one of the shows. O'Sheehan's was a little slow, but we were on vacation and a leisurely lunch was perfect, plus we never felt rushed. Le Bistro was only outdone by the chef's table and will also be on our list. We got fresh fruit every morning either at the buffet or main dining breakfast, my husband got his daily need for chocolate fulfilled each day without a wait or problem.
Entertainment was the best: We did Blue Man Group - strange and very funny; Legends - we love music; Second City funny but a little short (about 45 min); Circus Ole perfect meal and seating on second row to see the who without all the people running around you; Dueling Piano Bar was so much fun we could not pull ourselves away until 2 am both times we went; movies under the stars were peaceful and fun; Martini Bar piano was a nice way to spend the evening and while the photographs were little pricey, we never take pictures of anyone but the kids and grandchildren, so it is nice to have some photographs of ourselves.
Speed boat, snorkeling and beach break. Loved the boats, the water and the beach itself. The bathrooms were very clean and the drinks free. The food was "cash only," as we were told their machine was not working. The sales people with the goods were a little in your face, but once they knew you had no cash they stayed away. The food service was very slow and I felt sorry for the man trying to keep up with a terribly understaffed area and after a 45 minute travel to the beach, boat ride to and from the reef, snorkeling at the reef and a walk on the beach you are at least a little hungry. There was no town, just a port area with a commercial shopping area and a big pool in the middle of the retail area. The prices were way to high on pottery, outdoor wall decor and tee-shirts. I would not waste my time or money.
Catamaran to Passion Island. Nice beach day. We got some beautiful pictures of the mangroves away from the busy beach. The water was full of waves, warm and inviting. There were plenty of chairs to lounge around. Lunch and drinks were included and were good. We had the fish, salad and chips with salsa. Again, the sales people were a little aggressive and the prices for the ceramics outrageous. Happily, by this point I had learned to say no thank you and walk away. Back In Cozumel we got some great deals at the liquor store and the family and friends were happy with their goodies.
Tubing down a fresh water river was fun, although I am a little short and the mandatory life vest kept poking me in the neck. I am a very good swimmer, so I just unzipped it. If you are not a good swimmer you would want to just take the poking as part of the fun was the rapids along the way that could cause you to take a spill. No one in our group turned over, but we heard other did. It was a little bit of a ride but the guide, Kimone, was great. She shared her love of her home, the educational system and history of Jamaica. At the beach, Kimone, made sure we were all fed and had fresh drinks. The food and drinks were part of the tour and were very good. Downside to port itself was when you left the ship, you could not take two steps without people trying to give you a ride, sell you some good or offering a "better" tour than the ship. I almost turned around and got back on the ship until it was time to leave for our tour as it was simply overwhelming. Thank goodness for my husband who just started blocking the people from coming up to me.