Embarkation: After reading previous reviews, my family and I were really worried about how this process was going to work. We got into the parking lot and the attendants took our bags really quickly. They were very nice. We arrived at the port at 11:30 and were given a number. You couldn't board the ship until 12:30 so we waited in the waiting room for a while. We had number 11 so we were thinking we wouldn't get on the ship in a timely manner. Much to our surprise, we got called right after the people with the blue cards. i believe the people with the blue cards with numbers on them are people that have cruised with NCL before. The whole process was really fast and there was no troubles whatsoever.
When we were boarding the ship, we got our hands sprayed with sanitizer. I can't tell you what how happy this made me. I turn into a little bit of a germophobe when I'm cruising. I just don't want to be sick on a boat. That would be the worse. I was pleased that sanitizer dispensers were placed at the beginning of every eating establishment and a lot of the public places. Now if they could just enforce that people actually use it!
The ship was great. The staterooms were a little small but comfortable. The bathroom is bigger than most staterooms and the shower is wonderful. Very good water pressure.
The food was great. I previously sailed with carnival and the food wasn't all that wonderful and the idea of having to get all dressed up to eat at a table with complete strangers every night doesn't really appeal to me. I think NCL is very smart going with freestyle cruising. It would be hard for me to go to another cruiseline now and have to stick to a schedule.
The entertainment was okay. The magic show wasn't the best. In fact there was a passenger talent show and a young man did a magic show that was better than the magic show put on by the guy hired by NCL. Not good. The Second City Comedy Show was very funny. Definitely should go to that. I don't gamble so I didn't go to the casino much. There is a lounge right off the casino that is really cool though. It has actually bed type loungers that are really comfortable.
The only thing I can say negative about the cruiseship was the fact that they don't have games around the pool and most times you couldn't understand what the people were trying to say over the loudspeaker. Also, my son was really disappointed that there weren't towel animals in the room every night.
Costa Maya: This port is beautiful. The pool at the port is great. It has a neat swim up bar and the pool is really huge. We made a mistake of thinking we would do some shopping in the town so we got a bus ride for $3 from the port. Don't do this... There is no place to shop and Costa Maya is pretty much still wiped out by the hurricane. Just stay at the port and you will have a better time.
Guatemala: We got off the ship not having anything booked. I had read previous reviews that scared us out of going to the town by ourselves. The port has a bunch of excursion companies competing for your business. We wanted to go shopping so we booked a tour with Happy Fish. We took an hour boat ride with a tour guide who was great. We stopped at a school in the jungle, hotsprings, and livingston. The boat ride was the best time because you got to see all these huts on the shore in this tiny river. Livingston is kind of scary and not much shopping to do there. So go on this tour but wait to shop until you get back to the port.
Belize: We booked cave tubing through cavetubing.com. We did jungle atving and then went to the caves to tube. The water is not cold, its REFRESHING. Evan and his crew from cavetubing.com are the best and they will keep you entertained the whole trip. I can't speak enough about them!!! The only thing I will say about this trip is that if there are older people in your group this may not be the excursion for them. It is quite a hike through the jungle to get to the spot you go cave tubing at and it may be a little too much for them.
Cozumel: We booked the beach break deluxe since we enjoyed it so much the last time we went there. We were excited to know that they had gotten new comfortable lounge chairs in that year. We love this excursion. They have all the water toys you want to use, the buffet is very good, and they aren't shy about bringing you rum punch after rum punch. Its well worth the money!
Disembarkation: We chose the express disembark where you carry your own luggage off. At 8:15 we were heading up the elevator to disembark with our luggage in tow. This was the quickest disembarkation we ever went through. It only took about 20 minutes to get to the parking lot. We were quite amazed!
All in all, my family was satisfied with almost everything on this cruise. The staff was nice, the food was great, the excursions were fun, and the weather was warm. We had a wonderful time and were not looking forward to going back to Kansas:(