Embarkation: Not as organized and smooth as it could have been, but overall not too bad. Had to wait in line in large tent, then moved to seating area where we waited about 20 minutes. Once onboard, had to wait in line at Azura restaurant to register. Whole process took about an hour and 20 minutes.
Cabin: We booked at the last minute, so the only cabin we could get was category K inside on deck 4, the lowest passenger deck. Room was just a standard inside cabin. Bathroom configuration optimized space. Shower was larger than others we've had, but it drained too slowly. You were left standing in water over your feet at the end of shower. Adequate storage space. Room was very quiet. We don't spend much time in our room -- just sleep, shower, change, so it was fine for us.
Food: We thought the food was good to very good. We ate dinner mostly at Tsar's Palace, one of the main dining rooms. We ordered a bottle of wine with dinner each night and got a free one on our More
last night. Variety and quality were very good. Buffet set up minimized lines and variety was very good. They offered afternoon snacks each day, and I always had tea and scones. Wonderful! Grill at pool was good; standard burgers and fries. Ate once at Blue Lagoon for lunch. Limited menu but decent food. Had a late-night dinner at Le Bistro one night. Food and service were wonderful, but we were seated next to a loud family with six children, so atmosphere was far from tranquil. Would probably not pay to eat there again. If you want to eat at the same time each night, you can make reservations. If you're more flexible, after 8:00 you can choose where you want to eat without much of a wait. This was not necessarily true for specialty restaurants, however. Alcohol prices were high, and they were very stringent about not letting passengers bring alcohol on board. Two drinks were generally $20. We learned that next time we would get a bottle of champagne or wine in the bar area at night rather than ordering individual drinks and cut our bar bill in half.
Entertainment: We didn't see any of the shows. We go to Vegas several times a year and have found that cruise ships just don't have the same caliber of performers. We did hear good things about the shows though. We enjoyed the piano lounge at bar central. Went to the disco one night and had lots of fun. We mostly visited with people and had drinks in lounges after we ate.
Pool: Not really a pool person. But there was only one pool, and the chairs filled up early. We ate breakfast out there a few times, and people were complaining that they couldn't get a seat.
Ports: Enjoyed San Juan. Hired a taxi driver who gave us a tour of Old San Juan and took us to the beach at Condado. If you want a tour, would highly recommend Orlando Enriquez (787) 643-7292. You can call ahead and he'll meet you at the port. Also goes to the rain forest, Bacardi tour, Rio Camuy Caves, Ponce, etc. Antigua was very charming although poorer than other islands we visited. There are ditches in front of streets throughout the island that carry sewage and brown water. Not a pleasant smell. We took an ATV excursion through the cruise line. It was awesome! Went about 12 miles on back roads. Lots of open space and beautiful scenery. The driver who took us to the ATVs also gave us a mini island tour on the way back to the port. Had a blast! Stunning beaches throughout the island. Also went to St. Thomas. Had been there before. Went to the synagogue (sp?) in town for a fascinating tour. Not for the faint of heart as it is on top of a steep hill, but worth the climb. Shopped in town and at Havensight Mall.
Service: Found service to be friendly and professional throughout the ship. Our cabin steward never introduced him/herself, so we didn't tip extra. Would have if we'd known who to give it to. But service was fine. One thing we did was buy a transfer to the airport thru the cruise line. You could only purchase it if your flight was after 1:30 and ours left at 1:40. They had us off the ship and at the airport by 9:30 a.m.! Don't do this! There are cabs right outside the ship in the port. Have a late breakfast and make your own arrangements unless you love sitting at airports.
Overall, we loved this cruise. If you like organized traditional cruises, then this probably is not for you. But if you are self-sufficient and flexible this is a great experience. We were surprised at the number of people who dressed for dinner each evening. Liked the decor. We went on the Caribbean Princess last year. This is the same size ship but carries 1,000 fewer people, so we were pleasantly surprised at the amount of public space. Lots of quiet places to sit and read and watch the world go by. Many dining venues. Lots of bars. Fun casino. Would definitely recommend this ship and will sail with Norwegian again. Less