This was my third cruise, the other two were with Carnival. I did enjoy this cruise better than the others and may cruise NCL again, still not sure. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza with their park and sail package. For $209 after tax you get a night, breakfast and parking while on the cruise. Not a bad deal. Embarkation, wonderful. Use the porters. We arrived early at the terminal around 11:30am and only had about a 45min wait before we were on the ship. We were told rooms would be ready around 2pm, however they were ready early 1:30. We used the time before the room was ready to walk around the ship and have lunch by the pool.
Room: we were in a mini-suite, four of us, 2 adults and our 12 are 8 year old children. The room was plenty big and had Lots or storage. We had 5 med-large suitcases, two carry ons, 2 kids backpacks and a laptop. We were able to find storage for all. Remember that there is a light switch in the top of the closet at the back, a must use and use the shelf in there as well. Storage under the beds for those empty suitcases. The balcony was plenty big, two chairs and a small table. We at times would bring the desk chair from the room outside to allow for all four of us to be out there. A great place to watch the dolphins, or deck 7. You will see lots of dolphins down by ACA and then leaving the other ports. look for whales on the first 2 days down and all around Cabo. As for the room steward/ess. I think they could have done a much better job, a match remained on our floor for the entire cruise, never to be vacuumed or picked up, there were four of us and for the first 3 days we were given only 3 towels. We had to request more. Also, a glass of ice tea I left on the balcony remained there for four days and was still there when we disembarked.
Food: The food was decent, I love the freestyle dining as our family is a very flexible fam and we don't like to feel we have to be somewhere at the same time for every meal. Also, I NEVER enjoy sitting with strangers to eat!!! My son and I ate breakfast in Versailles one day by ourselves and had a great window seat at the back of the ship, however the service was HORRIBLE, she had no patience and wouldn't let us finish our order, she literally walked away. My coffee was never refilled. We decided to try this again for breakfast the last day at sea and got a different waitress who was wonderful. We ate at the buffet and grill mostly, it was good, not much selection but good. Aqua for dinner one night was great as was La Trattoria?SP?. The Blue Lagoon was great and we ate there many of late nights with the kids. The kids used room service daily and loved it. Service was always good here, they even messed up once and brought what they ordered twice, the kids didn't mind.
Entertainment: Great, I would agree that the only so so entertainer is Sasso, not very funny. The ventriloquist was fabulous and hilarious. The dancers and singers were great as well. Casino: we spent many of hours here. Did well the first night. The next couple of nights seemed tight. Then three nights in a row we hit 4 deuces playing quarters at the bar. (you can also play nickles here). The last day at sea the whole casino was tight, we dropped a lot of money just that evening. I also participated in the slot tournament and I must say was very disappointed. I made it to the finals only to find out that nothing is done for the final six only the one who wins. They don't take your scores and add to them so it doesn't really matter were you are in the top six. Also, at least on Carnival you get a t-shirt just for paying to enter and the top 6 all got something, here you get nothing and the winner only gets $500. Not good business in my opinion.
Kid Crew: The best thing about the cruise, the kids had a wonderful time and couldn't wait to go. They met new and exciting friends that they were able to hang out with even when Kid Crew was not in session i.e. at the pool. Remember to tip these folks as they are not included in your "auto" tips.
Port of Call: ACA-We hired Ismael, a gentleman our travel agent hooked us up with and for a small fee he traveled us around the town for the entire day. I would not have ventured into this city without a guide. We spent some time at the princess hotel and beach, very nice. Saw the cliff divers, a must see and he even let us stop at Wal-Mart to get some things. Zihuatenejo - wonderful. If you want to do some beach time, take a $5 cab ride to La Ropa beach, very secluded, we found a restaurant that allowed us to use their lounges and table if we ordered something. What a wonderful day, we grabbed another $5 cab ride back to town and did a bit of shopping. Nice people. PV- I love PV, this is my favorite, great place to shop for jewelry and souvenirs. Don't save your shopping for Cabo - you might as well shop in San Diego!!! PV had many things you can do and my only wish is that we were there longer. We used the ships free taxi to town via Tanzanite International and then spent the day walking along the malacon, shopping, walked down across the bridge and spent a couple hours on the beach. Went to Senior Frogs on the walk back for a nice cocktail and snack. The kids always love SF. We grabbed a $12 cab ride back to the ship, stopped at the jewelry store and my ring was ready. A great day!
Cabo- boy has this place grown in the past few years. I use to really enjoy Cabo, but this time I have to say we didn't. We enjoyed the boat ride to lovers beach and played there for a bit, but then we went to Medondo beach which was LOADED with vendors who wouldn't leave you alone. We stayed for a couple of hours and then headed back to town. Stopped at Johnny Rockets for the kids to get a milkshake, WOW the prices there were worse than Hollywood!!!! $6 for a small shake and my husbands coke was $2.50, more than the ship price. Cabo has become too big and commercialized. Liked it better the way it used to be.
Disembarkation: Great, we chose to carry our own luggage off as they had lost one of our pieces getting on the ship (this was due to our pink tags from NCL not having the correct room #on them and I never noticed - check your tags) anyway we took our time, had breakfast, went to customs (this took about 15mins), went back to our room, grabbed our bags and headed off the ship. We were able to walk right off the ship and wait for our shuttle back to the hotel.
Now for the bad part!!! There were many people on the ship who got ill with the stomach thing. Our son was severely ill the last day at sea, I became very worried and decided to contact the ships doctor. I spoke to a nurse named Huhni, she was evil. All I wanted to know was what he should be taking (pepto-which kept coming up, immodium, or what) They see this all the time and should have been able to tell me. She kept saying that I needed to bring him down, I explained that he couldn't leave the room as when he tried he vomited in the hall. She HUNG UP on me. I called back to reception and they put me through to the dr. I explained and he too was rude and wanted to see my son, and they would charge me for the medication to treat, when I asked what it was he said Immodium. I had that and was able to treat myself. It floored me that they are after your money no matter how they can get it!!!
Now for the "auto" tipping, you can have this adjusted or eliminated if you wish. I had ours eliminated and then used it to tip those who showed us excellent service. We tipped our room steward what we felt they did, and then we tipped the Kids crew the most and then we found some of the wait staff that gave us excellent service. I don't like to auto tipping, it stinks!!!