My husband and I, along with our two children (ages 13 and & 7), just returned from an amazing cruise with NCL. We have been on many cruises before, on just about every cruise line that exists. This was our first cruise with Norwegian. We were excited about the freestyle cruising, due to the fact that we do not want to be committed to a certain time slot every night for dinner. We also wanted to enjoy family dinners together, while saving the opportunity to make new friends during other times on the ship. This cruise exceeded our expectations!
I was surprised to read some of the negative reviews. As a frequent traveler, to resorts and on cruises, we understand the differences in terms of sizes of swimming pools and cabins/rooms.Ships simply do not have the space to accommodate the size of pools one would see at a land resort. Our focus was on the activities offered, excursions, shows, and of course, the dining experience. We must have participated in every activity offered: Nickelodeon PJ jam; Family dinner party (with face painting and cupcake making); how to make balloon animals class, how to make designs from towels class, Bingo, 70s and 80s party, Glow party, bowling, ropes course with zipline and plank, mini golf, arcade, water slides, splash zone, rock climbing wall, trampoline,etc. We are an adventurous and sporty family who remain very active during all of our family vacations. We also based our choice of activities on the age groups of our two children. However, we met several families who spent more time relaxing and enjoying the ice cream shops and bakeries, instead of participating in a multitude of events. In other words, you take what you want from the ship experience. There are plenty of activities for adults, designated quiet areas and adult only areas, and a variety of activities to meet all needs and likes. Take the time to read the daily itinerary; it gives hour by hour options. The customer service desk can also assist in deciding what activities best suit your taste.
The food was tasty; all restaurants offered a great variety of choices. We opted to eat at the inclusive restaurants as well as the specialty ones. We are a family who enjoys dining out; therefore, we wanted to explore all options on the ship. We found, though, that the inclusive restaurants were just as "fancy" as the specialty ones (as stated by our teenage daughter). Some restaurants offered a tranquil atmosphere, whereas others extended a more festive ambiance.
The shows were great, for the most part. We felt that the Legally Blonde show and the Burn the Floor dance show had some scenes and/or language that may be more of a PG- 13 rating, rather then the PG rating we were hoping for. This may have been our assumption, or we may be a bit more conservative than other parents. We enjoyed the shows; however, not sure it was age appropriate for our 7 year old son. Although I really don't think he picked up on any of the "adult" portions of the shows. We should have offered to have him stay in the kids' club area while we attended the shows. After being on a Disney cruise, last time, I realized that I need to scrutinize show options a little better when on other cruise lines. Next time...
The choice of excursions were fantastic and we loved every one of them!
We booked this cruise, at the last minute, due to my husband's work schedule. There were not many options left; however, we were able to book an outside family cabin. To our surprise, we ended up being upgraded to a cabin designed for handicap travelers. The room was huge! We are not counting on that ever happening again, but we sure enjoyed it!
The staff was the most friendly that we have ever encountered! Again, in comparison with other cruise lines and resorts, this was the best! One could feel the excitement from every single person that worked on the ship. We were highly impressed by the smiles, courtesy, and willingness to assist us. At one point, two staff members approached us and apologized for the 10min wait to be seated at one of the restaurants (the only time we ever had to wait all week). They offered to escort us to a different restaurant, if we did not care to wait. We told them that we were from Orlando, FL and were used to waiting hours to be seated at restaurants and to go on rides. They laughed at that, and then once we were seated, one of them came up to us and thanked us for our patience! We felt special and cared for every minute on that ship.
We will be back, Getaway, and we will bring along more family and friends. Please keep up the great work; it shows and it is appreciated!!!!
We chose the half day Atlantis Beach excursion. We opted to not do the water park, since we are from Orlando, FL and go to water parks often. This excursion was fantastic! We had about five hours to spend at the beach ( not including the transportation to arrive there). Transportation there and back was by tour bus; which was air conditioned and pre booked along with the tour.
This excursion involves use of the beach, the lagoon, and the aquariums. The beach is absolutely beautiful and offers the options of para sailing, jet skiing, boating, and banana boat. The cost for each was actually reasonable and negotiable. The lagoon was very fun for our children. Snorkeling equipment can be rented; there are many fish and even small sting rays to see. The lagoon has a shallow end and deeper one; perfect for all age groups.
The aquariums were dirty. We were surprised that, for such a lavish resort, the up keeping was lacking in the aquariums. Our children enjoyed them, though. I guess only adults notice cleanliness; kids just want to see the animals.
The nice thing about this excursion is that the tour buses run every half hour, from 3pm - 6pm. Therefore, you can stay as long as you want. We had been to the Bahamas several times; therefore, we were not as interested in sight seeing as some other tourists may have been. Either way, it was nice to not be committed to a certain time slot.
Loved it and highly recommend it!!!!
We opted to take the Dolphin Encounter/beach excursion during our stay in St. Marteen. We absolutely loved this excursion! Please note that this is different from the Dolphin Swim excursion; although both groups will be taken to the same location. The Encounter one is more appropriate for younger children and older adults; this is the reason why we chose it (my husband and I have two children ages 7 and 13). The Encounter consisted of interacting with the dolphin in terms of touching, kissing, dancing with , and posing for pictures. You will not actually swim with the dolphin on this one. On the swim excursion, though, you actually take turns at swimming with the dolphin in different ways. It looked amazingly fun, but it may have been a bit challenging for our 7 year old. I feel we made the right choice.
We arrived at the location by boat. It was a large 40 something ft boat; however, at times, it was not a smooth 45 minute ride. Our family is used to boats; therefore, we thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the outside, getting wet, and feeling the movements. However,there was an adult and one child aboard that were sea sick. The crew was very attentive to them, and remained by their side the entire time.
Once on land, we took a short bus ride to the beach area. Groups were separated into the dolphin encounter, dolphin swim, and beach. Half the time was spent at the beach, and the other half with the dolphins.The process was very organized from beginning to end. We spent ample time with Coco, the dolphin. It was an amazing experience for our children! We have been to Sea World a million times; however, this was such a special connection with this amazing creature!
The beach portion of the excursion was also great. We suggest you head over to the part of the beach away from the dolphin habitat (on the right hand side). The beach is not large; however, it is not crowded either. The views of the mountains/islands and the aquamarine colored water is straight from the textbook.
The lunch is included in the price; however, it was the worse cheeseburger I have ever had in my life! I am only speaking for myself; but, I looked around and nobody ate the entire burger either. It was especially disappointing because we love island food from the natives, and have enjoyed it in the past.This turkey burger, or whatever the mystery meat was, had absolutely no flavor, no spices, no taste. Be warned...have a large breakfast before going on this excursion.
We still had time to do some shopping before returning to the ship. The local port is loaded with beautiful shops, and yes, good local island treats! There was island music surrounding us, smiling faces everywhere; overall a fantastic port!
Overall, we absolutely loved it!!!! It was worth every cent, and we would go again.
This excursion was fantastic! We were taken to the beach by boat and then bus. The rides seem long; however, we turned it into part of the adventure. Our children love experiencing different modes of transportation; therefore, this part was fine with us. Others were complaining about the amount of time it took to get to the beach itself. Again, it's all on what you get out of each experience!
The beach was breathtakingly beautiful...right out of a magazine. The word paradise is the one I would use to describe it. The snorkeling gear was provided as part of the fee. This excursion was age appropriate for everyone. There was a choice to go deeper into the ocean, and view the reefs and abundance of fish, or to stay closer to shore. There were life guards on duty, and marked areas for safety. We have taken several snorkeling excursions, in the past, which consisted of having to jump off a boat in the middle of the ocean to snorkel. Although those excursions were great, they were not necessarily geared for younger children. This is why this particular excursion was so perfect for our family. My teen daughter and husband went into the deeper end of the ocean, while my 7 year old son and I remained on the shallow end. We were all able to snorkel safely and see hundreds of beautiful fish. Plus, once we were tired of snorkeling, we still had time to enjoy the beautiful beach. This beach also offers a place to eat and showers. The tour guides gave us a 20 minute warning before returning us to the bus. Again, extremely organized and well planned. We also learned much about St. Thomas on the ride to the St. John beach and back.
The entire tour is about 4 1/2 hours long. At first, we thought it would be too short of a time. We were concerned about getting our money's worth. However, it proved to be ample time to enjoy the beach and snorkeling! The guides are very organized and efficient. It turned out to be just long enough in that it gave us time to explore the port area. There are many beautiful shops and places to see. We absolutely loved every minute of this experience!!!
We will return...