This is our first time taking a NCL cruise. We have been on 2 Disney cruises, 2 carnival and 4 Royal Carribean. So I am comparing this cruise to royal carribean and the suites on the two ships. I also spend a lot of time reading other reviews and base a lot of my travel decisions on these.
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale only because they offer direct flights and that is what we prefer. We had a friend that lives there take us to Miami and we took a cab back from the port. The cost of that was$72.00. You can sign up for transportation on the ship for $25/person but I don't like to be on anyone's schedule so we just took a cab. We had a aft haven penthouse on deck 10, but mind you the haven area is in the front of the ship so it did require a lot of walking back and forth if you used that area a lot. I definitely think having a room in the haven area would be very convenient but I enjoy the large balconies so that is why we were in the back. They have a person that takes you on the ship and directly to the haven to show you all of the amenities you have for the week. Well worth the money!!! You have a beautiful inside area with bar and restaurant and a small pool area and upstairs a nice sun deck with comfortable chairs, umbrellas and round chaise lounges with sun visors if needed. We did eat in the restaurant a couple of nights and the food was good and the service impeccable. One of the things I enjoy with suite rooms is the in room dining. You can order from the main dining room and eat in the comfort of your own room in your robe.
Another feature that I loved, our butler would deliver snacks to our room daily. After being gone all day at your ports coming back to the room with food was always welcomed. The butler is the one that brings you any inroom dining you order. Other than that we really didn't use his services.
Our room was very nice. It has a seperate bathroom with shower when you walk in, which would be nice if you have more than 2 people. The room is a little chopped up but served it's purpose. The bed in our room was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. Had our own coffee maker with some special coffee, it comes out looking like it has creamer in it but it doesn't. Loved the bathroom, the shower had it's own floor to celing window in it that looks out to the ocean. When you are in the back of the ship you do feel movement but it is a swaying move. I loved being on the back, it is almost like having a private yacht to yourself.
I'm going to just give you a couple of other suggestions about the cruise. We overlooked the Spice H2O sundeck area. Found it the last day when we were in the Bahamas. Nice area on top of ship with great views, it is on the back of the boat. They have a bar area and right outside is a outdoor eating area with good cuban food. The jogging track is very poorly designed. It goes around a very populated pool and eating area so you have to deal with a lot of people walking into the track not even realizing they are on the track, 8 times around is 1 mile. If you are out early you can go to deck 8 and walk that, it doesn't go all the way around but it is a nice area, also I think deck 6 where the lifeboats are you can walk but still doesn't go all the way around the ship. I didn't like the casino area, again it was very chopped up in different sections and right in the middle of the ship so everyone has to walk thru it to get to other places. Dealers were all very friendly, unfortunaely we didn't win any money. The lifeboat drill is at 3:30 the day you leave and you leave port around 6. The main pool they play very good music and it does get a little crazy with the younger crowd but there is a ton of lounge chairs all over that if you don't want to be a part of that you have the freedom to go where ever to lay out. We were portside in the Bahamas and St. Maarten and starboard in St. Thomas. Another nice thing NCL does is when you are getting back on the boat from being in port all day is hand out cold washclothes and drinks. They are always playing music and having fun.
We usually do early disembarkation due to early flight but this time we had a 12:30 flight and weren't in any hurry to get off. The ship cleared at 8:00am. We also chose to carry off our own luggage. So we went to eat at the buffet which you have until 9/9:30 to eat and then went back to room to get luggage. I really didn't think anything of having an issue getting off the boat. When we got off the elevator on the 7th floor I realized I was wrong. A very long line formed to get off the boat. We were a little concerned if we would make it to Ft. Lauderdale and our flight on time, we still had to get in line for customs. Well the line didn't move much for 5 to 10 minutes and then we finally made it to what I think is the holdup. They have 2 people scanning your seacard to get off the ship. Not a very good system. Once we were in customs that line didn't take long and we were off to catch a cab.
We only saw Burn the Floor and I will say the dancers are amazing!!! It was probably about 10/15 minutes to long but well worth watching.
In St.Maarten we went to Orient Beach which is the same place we go to everytime we have been there. This time we found a new area that just opened a couple of months ago called Kontiki Beach, they have red and white chairs and umbrellas. It was $20 for chairs, drinks and food were expensive but the beach area and bar with swings to sit at was worth it, I will definately go back. In St. Thomas we went to Morningstar Beach which is connected to the Marriott you see when you are coming into the dock area on the cliff. Very nice relaxing beach with a place to get drinks and food. They don't come out to serve you. You are suppose to pay for chairs but when we went to get a raft they told us not to worry about it so we got it all free for the day so that was an added bonus. We didn't walk around but the Marriott sits on the cliff and looks like a beautiful resort. Also this is like only 5 to 10 minutes away from ship.
Overall I really liked the boat, if I had it my way and I could take our room and the haven area and put it on the allure or the oasis that is what I would do, I like the openness of the bigger ship. I don't think their food is as good as Royal Carribean but I'm really not that into the food. One other thing I didn't like they did, if you have the drink package you still have to sign a ticket and feel obligated to leave an additional tip on top of the tip that is already on the ticket. On royal carribean if you have the sticker on your card that is all you need, no signing anything. Hope this provides you with any information you need to know.