This was our first time sailing with Norwegian but not our first cruise. As most first-timers, we were excited to be going on a ship we’ve never been on, so we began this lovely vacation with bright and fun attitudes.
Embarkation: We were afraid that embarkation would take a while since we arrived at the terminal around 1 p.m., which is prime time to get on any ship, but we were wrong. Embarkation was a breeze, and I’d say it took a maximum of about ten minutes to board the ship from the security checkpoint at the beginning of the terminal! It was very hassle-free, and despite the plethora of people there, the lines moved smoothly and quickly.
The Ship Itself: Despite the ship’s age, we found the décor to be delightful, relaxing, and having a very Caribbean-style feel to it. Yes, the ship is old, and no, that’s not an excuse for the décor to be lacking, but none in our party thought it was tacky or outdated. Besides the décor, the ship was very clean. There are sanitizer dispensers all throughout the ship and workers throughout ready to spray your hands with sanitizer whenever necessary. Like I said, despite the ship’s age, it is very well-maintained.
Our Cabin: Seeing as this was a three-day sailing, we wanted to get the most bang for our buck, so we decided to reserve an inside cabin. The cabins are cramped, yes, but comfortable. Those complaining about cabin size seem to have not gone on any other cruises because I’ve never been on a ship where you enter your cabin and think, “Wow, this looks like my master bedroom!” The cabins, however, we felt needed a bit of maintenance. Firstly, I’d just like to say that those huge white antiquated blocks Norwegian calls “TVs” really need upgrading. This ship may have been built in the 1990s, but civilization is no longer in the 1990s, therefore we shouldn’t be living in the past. Other than the TV needing upgrading, the bathroom had rust stains on the mirror and some of the handles. Our hairdryer also didn’t seem to work. Despite all of these inconveniences, we managed well and our room steward was very attentive and was always responsive to all our needs.
The Food: We thought the food was decent, not the best, but good. There were selections we liked and others we didn’t like. What I would like to mention, however, was that there wasn’t much selection. We saw many of the same foods repeated each day and this was a bit disappointing. For breakfast and lunch we usually ate at the buffet and the food was like any other breakfast buffet on a cruise. They have your typical oatmeal, grits, fruits, breads, eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, etc.. Lunch was the same as breakfast. It felt like we were choosing foods from the day before.. burgers, hotdogs, meats, etc. Each night we had dinner at one of the main complementary dining rooms. The food at both were better than at the buffet and it varied a bit at both each day. The service was excellent as well. The servers were always prompt, on top of your every need, and were never hesitant if you ever had any inquiry or wanted to order more than one appetizer, meal or dessert. I love the concept of freestyle dining because you’re not confined to one set dining time.
The Entertainment: One of the main reasons we go on cruises is because of all the entertainment offered throughout each day. The show the first night, the “Welcome Aboard” show was subpar at best. It didn’t really give a true taste to what the Sky dancers and cast had to offer to their audience. The shows the other two nights, the Vegas-style one and the Idol Showdown performance were very entertaining and engaging! My party and I loved each and the audience seemed to like it as well. Also, the comedy shows were hilarious! There were two, one on the first night and another on the last night, which was an adult-only show. Both were very humorous. Besides the main entertainment, there were a few game shows throughout the cruise that we also attended which were amusing and lively as well. Overall, the entertainment was fantastic, and there was something for everyone in this department.
The Ports: We had been to Nassau many times in the past so we weren’t super exhilarated to make a return back, but we decided to get off the ship anyways to see if anything had changed. To sum it up, nothing has really changed whatsoever. From the moment you arrive at the “welcome center”, you’ll be harassed by people to take you on taxi rides or on tours of the city. If you’d like to go shopping, be ready to be hassled by shop owners into buying anything you set your eyes on. To this day, the words “name your price” still haunt my dreams. But, this is how these people make their money and how life runs in these types of places, so it’s understandable.
Great Stirrup Cay was our second and final destination on the cruise and also Norwegian’s private island and I don’t think anyone can really complain about the islet. It’s very secluded and relaxing. Although there were probably over a thousand people on the islet at one time, it didn’t really feel like it. Anyways, we anchored about one or two miles from the islet and tenders to the cay began early and ran throughout the day. The tendering process was very organized and you could tell they had it planned out very well. Once you arrived, there were plenty of beach chairs awaiting you throughout the cay and it never felt crowded at all. There are little shops on the island that sell souvenirs and Caribbean-style music playing throughout the day. From 11 AM to 2 PM there is also a complementary buffet that offers burgers, hotdogs and other BBQ-style foods. You could also buy excursions on the islet as well.
The Staff: The staff of the ship always seemed courteous and willing to help. They always had a smile on their face and if you looked confused, they’d always come up to you and ask if you needed any assistance.
The People: You’ll find all types of age groups on this type of ship. Throughout the day was obviously the most chaotic with people flocking the pools and upper decks and running around the ship in their pool attire. When nighttime arrived, however, the atmosphere became a lot more relaxed, unless, of course, you went into the nightclub or a nightly party. The cruise itself has a very party-style climate attributed to it, so if you’re not into that type of thing, this might not be the cruise for you.
Disembarkation: The saddest part of any cruise! However, the crew on this ship made it super quick and hassle-free! We decided to get off the ship first, which meant that you had to carry your luggage off the ship with you, rather than leave it at your cabin door the night before and pick it up at the terminal. Once they made the announcement on the PA that we could begin disembarking, we made our way to the gangway and we were off the ship and out of the terminal in less than five minutes. Really no complaints here.
Overall: This cruise is what you make of it! The ship is aged, but it is well-maintained and makes for a great vacation no matter whether you’re 5 years old or 70 years old! Yes, some things could have been better, but for the price and everything that’s included, you really can’t go bad. We really had no major complaints about anything and we enjoyed every minute that we were on the ship.