We have been cruising for years it is our favorite family vacation. I have cruised on RCCL, Carnival, Celebrity and NCL. I think this is my 14th cruise. This is our second NCL cruise, we sailed Hawaii onboard the Pride of America a few years ago. I had mixed feelings about the "freestyle" dining. After the poor customer service and mediocre food, I never planned on cruising NCL again. We recently became certified Scuba divers and NCL had the best itinerary for a spring break diving cruise. We decided to give it another chance.
We arrived a day early into New Orleans, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott and took in the sites and flavors of a great city. When we arrived at the cruise terminal it was clean, well organized and very quick. We arrived just before 2pm and our room was ready. The explored the ship and found it easy to navigate and very family friendly. One unique spot was the spiral stairs that led down to a room where you could view the bridge.
The stateroom was nice, I love the shower door versus the clinging shower curtain. I liked that the toilet had a door also. The balcony was small and completely salt encrusted. We only got the balcony so we would have a place to dry our dive equipment between ports, so it worked for us. Our room stewards rarely made up our beds, because they didn't show up most nights until after 9pm. We were usually in for the night by then. We had a lot of early mornings.
The overall appearance of the ship was nice, a few places were showing some wear. Our favorite place to hang out in the evening is the casino. They only had 1 roulette table, and it didn't have the display that lists the last 20 or so numbers. That was a little bit of a disappointment. The table was often crowded and several times people had to wait for someone to leave before they were able to play.
The food was a big disappointment. The steak house was not worth $20 per person. The steak wasn't aged, or seasoned. I've had better at Sizzler. The Italian was so salty that we left most of it on the plate and went to the buffet when we were done. The waiters at the Italian restaurant were not friendly, they were very slow and got our orders wrong. My son never got his entree. We dined in the main dining room one evening and found the service slow and food poor. We also found that seemed to be the place that parents took their misbehaving children. We did find a ray of sunshine. The Asian restaurant was great. We ate there a few times and enjoyed everything we ate.
The shore excursions: In Roatan we had hoped to dive, but with the delay were unable to. We chose to do the SNUBA with the ship. We were disappointed. We spent very little time in the water and the guide seemed a little confused. He had us leave our snorkel gear behind when we had a lengthy swim before we went under, he mixed the 2 groups up which caused us to get tangled together. We were pulled along as the other group wanted to power swim around the reef and we wanted to actually see what was there. The whole thing was unpleasant.
Santo Thomas was nice. We did the ships tour of the ruins. Our tour guide spoke english very well and was very knowledgeable. He made an effort to keep us in the shade as much as possible.
Belize: We booked a private dive boat. We were due in port at 8am, so we booked our boat for 9:30am. This should have been enough time. They stopped tendering for a while. We were told the Capt. needed to move the ship because the seas were too choppy. We tried to be patient as they let the various tours go. Unfortunately, they continued to let tours with much later meeting times go before they allowed anyone with tender tickets go. The crowd was getting very aggitated. About 10am they were still letting tours go, some of them with meeting times after 11am. We finally got fed up and just pushed our way through. We were lucky that the dive shop waited for us. Another couple from the ship wasn't so lucky. I guess they waited until their tender was called and showed up about 45min. after the dive boat left.
I don't have a review for Cancun, because we all got sick Thurs. night. When we returned from diving in Belize my son wasn't feeling well. By dinner time he was vomiting. I went to the buffet to get him some light snacks and we were no longer able to serve ourselves. I assume that was because several others were having stomach issues. I got sick during the night. My husband was became sick the next day. We were very cautious about sanitizing both before and after meal, before and after the casino, as well as anytime we were out of the room. I believe it was possible we were exposed during the SNUBA excursion. I did notice the ship made no mention of the outbreak. Just a noticeable increase in room service dishes in the halls, and a decrease of people at in the dining areas.
We also took advantage of the Spa onboard ship. All the treatments we received were excellent. I just wish they didn't do the high pressure sales job at the end of each treatment.
We chose to take our own luggage off the ship and were able to get off easily and quickly.
I don't believe I will ever book NCL again. It just isn't my style. I prefer the personalized service I get from other cruise lines.