PORT ARRIVAL AND PARKING - As Floridians, I had attempted to find cheaper parking than the port at $20 a day. After figuring the cost of a room, taxes and transfers to try a "Sleep, Park and Sail" package, I found the $80 we paid to park for 4 nights at the Port was the best deal for us. We dropped out bags curbside ($5 tip) and parked in the garage, diagonally across from the ship and easily accessed. Boarding = Easy! We were onboard in less than 30 minutes. After having passports ready, filling out a brief health questionnaire, and weaving to the desk. Handed over our passports, and a credit card. The desk clerk quickly snapped out photos and issued our onboard cards. Security was a breeze, golf clubs were taken at security and delivered to the ship. Boarded the ship by scanning our cards and picked up a glass of champagne on the way. Arrived at the Port of Miami entrance at 1pm, parked and boarded and was Poolside in 40 minutes.
ROOM AND CABIN SERVICE - Room 8359 Indoor cabin - 3 people. Freestyle cruising is really a different concept, and as others have noted - as soon as you lower your expectations and realize that this type of cruise is NOT designed to have service people doting on you constantly you will have a wonderful time. We were lucky and met our room steward as we found our room. The $20 my DH gave him along with a request for ice managed to get us five star treatment. Our Ice Bucket was ALWAYS full of fresh ice, our room was attended to within minutes of leaving (I could return within an hour and find a freshly made bed.) We never saw our steward again, and don't expect to either. Our room was small but clean, we moved the bed together in the center and folded down the bunk for our 13 year old on one side. We did not have a loveseat but enjoyed the extra space to keep suitcases under the bunk. Small Flat screen TV, very firm but very comfortable bed, and clean starched linens. Plenty of fresh Towels (6 bath, 4 hand, 4 wash), along with 3 large swim towels. Plenty of glassware and the Elemis products are lovely (lavender hand soap is divine) No bad smells, dirt, noise or water issues for us at all. Warning - inside cabins you have no idea what the weather is like every morning and be sure you have a watch to know what time it is. Next time I may book a balcony, but for the price we paid the interior cabin exceeded my expectations.
DRINKS AND GENERAL SERVICE - Previous reviews had me ordering right from the bar first time around and expecting rude service. Occasionally I would encounter a slow or indifferent bartender, however the poolside wait staff was friendly, checked around regularly and I never found I was without a drink. Bucket of 6 Beers ($22) and I loved the freshly made mojitos ($9). Breakfast and Lunch had no service issues as we ate outdoors at the café. We ordered room service late every night after being at the club, never had a problem, special requests always arrived as ordered and the 30-45 minutes was never more than 15.
FOOD - No Complaints - Good, Decent, Adequate. I've had better and Far worse. You will find something for everyone and I was delightfully surprised at the freshness of the food - fruit and salad especially considering the thousands of meals served every day. Freshly grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, and the buffet had a nice selection of sandwiches, salad bar and hot dishes both meat and veggie ( Indian and Greek flair), cheeses, fruit etc.
DINNER -We had the intention of paying for dinner in the alternative restaurants and found we never needed to get there. With four nights the Crossings and Palace were lovely, menus were diverse and entrees were well presented(nice change from the café and Buffet), you can order more than one entrée if you like, no wait to be seated and no reservations. My only complaint is the language barrier with many of the servers. Have patience and there will be no problem.
LATE NIGHT - The sports bar has food late (request a menu) or room service.
BREAKFAST - We had breakfast in the dining room one morning and found it adequate, but not necessary for us. We chose the buffet and the Waffle/Omelet stations in the Sports Bar and Italian restaurant since we could eat outdoors which was lovely in the mornings. LUNCH - Pasta in the Italian Restaurant was very good, otherwise we stuck to the Buffet/Café.
ACTIVITIES FREEPORT - We kept to the pool and stayed onboard in Freeport (just not a lot to do there so we gave ourselves a day on the ship).
NASSAU - we took the Ferry to Atlantis ($4pp). The Ferry guide gives a nice history of Nassau and its residents and the Celebrity homes. We wandered briefly through Atlantis and checked out the "free" part of the aquarium. Its an impressive resort and it was nice to spend the short time we did admiring its vastness. We got directions from the staff at Atlantis and walked to Cabbage Beach from there (it's a short walk). We bought Fresh coconut drinks on the beach ($10), and went body surfing in the ocean. Had we opted there were plenty of activities once you are on the beach. ( Parasailing ($60), Massages ($25), and Wave Runners ($?)). We chose to walk the road back to the ferry to see the area (you can catch a cab right in front of the beach back to the boat).
STIRRUP CAY - Best thought of as a basic beach with chairs, Bahamian music, BBQ (chicken, burgers, slaw, corn etc.) and a bar. There are two volleyball courts in the sand, adequate restrooms and we did not have a problem gathering chairs to sit. Wading in the water you will see exotic fish if you look even without snorkel gear.
ONBOARD -As you may have read before, there is not a lot for the kids in terms of activities and those that are available do seem to need improvement. Check other reviews , but I would not depend on the ship to entertain younger children at all. My 13 year old son had no complaints, he made friends and they spent most of their time playing basketball and in the pool and hot tub. Our Freestyle Daily became our bible after 4pm when all the shows and evening activities continue one after the other. We stayed with the events like Quest and Battle of the Sexes and had a great time at each of them. Norwegian is a great cruse to relax and literally "FREESTYLE". Highly recommended for those of us who can overlook small details and appreciate the relaxed atmosphere, great deal and easy cruise attitude. If you have extra needs, expect constant doting service, and typical cruise formalities it is likely you would be happier somewhere else.