GETTING THERE: We spent the night before the cruise in Miami so we were sure that we would not be at the mercy of a plane delay or cancellation. It also helped that I had to be there for a business meeting on Friday morning. Dropped my wife at the port with our luggage and went to give the rental car back at the Avis location on 2nd street in Miami. It was a great idea as the location, was only 5 minute cab ride from the port. However, the car died at a light 3 blocks from the return site and I had to wait for 45 minutes for a tow truck to come get the car. After this slight issue (and no good help from Avis I should note), I finally made it to the port.
EMBARKATION:We went thru check-in fairly fast (less than 10 minutes wait) and we were on the boat, just like that around 1 pm or so, in less than 30 minutes from the time I arrived at the port! We did get a glass of champagne when we walked on the boat and we made reservations for Le Bistro right away.
CABIN:We were able to go to our cabin shortly after, and it was not as small as I thought. We opted for an Ocean View cabin and we were on Deck 6, which was very quiet, a little out of the way but it felt almost like a private deck.
FOOD:Following advice from this board, we went to Adaggio for lunch on embarkation day, they had a pizza and pasta station, but you could also walk to the main buffet, and the nice part about Adaggio is that it was very empty as the buffet room was quite full. So we had the best of both worlds, a quiet table by the window, eating pizza and pasta from Adaggio and having salad and deserts from the Buffet. Dinner at Le Bistro was great, I am from France and I must say it was some of the best French food I had in the US and I have been living here for 15 years. I would highly recommend to anyone on the cruise. I had escargots, foie gras and a great Filet Mignon (which is under grilled tenderloin on the menu, but it is a Filet Mignon). The only thing that was not great, was the chocolate fondue. On Saturday, we had room service for breakfast, it was OK no issues, just not a great selection. For lunch, we ate in Nassau at Tall Boy shack, and it was amazing! Fresh conch salad and conch fritters with ice cold Kalik, what a lunch! For dinner, we ate at Palace restaurant, and I must say it was the worst meal we had on the cruise. The food was OK, but nothing special, even the half lobster tail was very average, not much flavor at all. On Sunday, we went to the buffet for breakfast and ate on the deck, it was very relaxing and the buffet has a good choice of food. Lunch was on the island, and it was OK, burger, chicken breast, potato salad, etc, just regular BBQ food. For dinner, we went back to Le Bistro, we liked it so much the first night. It was once again, great, the menu was the same, and they told us that on a 3 days cruise, the menu stays the same every night. It did not matter, we had more escargot, foie gras and I tried the lamb this time. It was all perfect. We also ordered all 4 desserts on the menu to share. All that great food for $15 a person, you can't beat it!! On Monday, we had the breakfast buffet once again, before getting off the boat.
CREW: During all our interactions, everyone was very friendly and the crew did a great job, our room steward was attentive. The only small issue was with dry cleaning, they had a special "press" deal the first night and I sent a sweater and I had to call twice to get it back but I did get it at the end, just the next morning instead of the previous evening (when it was suppose to be deliver)
ENTERTAINMENT: We walked to the casino several time, but did not gamble, I was thinking about doing one of the poker tournaments but the buy-in set up was not very advantageous unless you had a big bankroll. On Sunday night, we saw Tim Kaminski and he was very funny.
NASSAU: We woke up to the anchor noise around 7 am on Saturday morning, got room service for breakfast and got ready to get off the boat and explore Nassau. We found on the forum a great tour guide called Otis, we met with him and waited for about 1 hour to fill the tour with more people. The tour was about 3 hours long, for $25 and it worth every penny. It was great, Otis is very passionate and a great speaker. He showed us all around the island, and the last stop was the Atlantis. At that point, we decided to break from the group and explore the Atlantis. We bought a pass to go see the dig (the Aquarium) and for $40 a person that was a rip-off, the aquarium is actually quite small and it was way too expensive for what it was. Other than that, the Atlantis would fit well in Las Vegas, it is a Vegas style hotel in the Bahamas. We walked back over the bridge and when you get back on the main island, right by the bridge there are a lot of food stands, we stopped at Tall Boy for fresh conch and it was great. After hanging out and eating for a couple of hours, we took a taxi back to downtown. We walked around and did a little shopping (rum and rum cakes), and went back on the boat around 4:30 or so. Nassau was definitely a great place to visit and we hope to go back one day and maybe spend a little more time there.
GSC: We took the tender boat around 10:45 and when we got there, the island was already very busy, but we found a couple of hammocks and hanged there most of the day. It was a very relaxing day, the only issue was the fairly loud music over the speakers. Island music would have been nice, but instead we got top 40, mostly hip hop kind of music. After lunch, we found two chairs on the beach and decided to go snorkeling for a bit. We love to snorkel so we brought our own gear and we did not need to get one of those vest. The water was a little cold, but very clear, however, there were not so many fish, but it was still fun. We then decided to go to the semi private part of the beach (to the right when you get off the tender boat) and that was nice, almost no one there. We then took the last tender back to the ship.
DISEMBARKATION: We did the self one, so we had time to get breakfast and get ready without being rushed. It was as simple to get off the ship as it was to get on it.
CONCLUSION: We had a blast, we could not be happier with our first cruise, everything was great (Including the price), and you can really do a cruise without going broke those days (unless you hit the bar every day! LOL) The only complaint would be that the "free" food at the dining room is very average, but if you pay a little extra, you can get some very good food. We can't wait to go back to another and while we might try another cruise line next time, I think it will be very very hard to beat the service and value we got from NCL.