Getting on the boat was a no-brainer. Got there around 10:30am and had to wait in the lounge until 11:30am to finally board. We've been on 3 Carnival cruises and this was our first NCL cruise. The dEcor is definitely better without the glitz and glamour of Carnival. The rooms are also nicer on NCL. It was also worth the extra charge to get a room with a window.
Every were you went they had the staff spray your hands were Bacteria free soap. Why? Do a lot of people get sick on this cruise?? Or is this the beginning of a germ phobic society!! Never have I seen this on a Carnival Cruise. I was told that Royal Caribbean also partakes in spraying everyone with bacteria free soap. Why??
Also NCL charges you 12 dollars a day (there "services charge") per passenger regardless if under 12 years of age or not
Food/Service: We ate all our meals at either Azure or Tsars (main dining rooms). Food was good and the service was mediocre. It seemed like the entire wait staff was in a "training class". I prefer the seating arrangement that Carnival offers. You get the same wait staff every night and they are more professional. Also the passengers tend to dress properly when dining.
Come on folks, NCL's policy recommends pants with a collared shirt for dinner. There were a lot of folks walking in with shorts are flip flops. I am surprised the dining room staff did not send them to the Garden cafe.
Activities: NCL definitely has to do a better job in having more activities during the days at sea.
Grand Cayman: Even though I am not a fan of booking excursions through the ship, we booked the Bicycle and Snorkel trip and it was awesome. We biked a total of 7 miles with stops to a turtle farm, "H-e-l-l" and the 7 mile beach for snorkeling.
Cozumel: We took a cab (we were a party of two and hooked up with two other individuals for a 12 dollar cab ride. Coming back we were charged 10 dollars per person) to Chankanaab Park and participated in the Snuba activity with the Sea trek group. Oswaldo and his crew were great and professional.
Leaving the ship was also a no-brainer. We walked with our own bags which took about 20 minutes to leave the ship.
Again we encountered the nasty cab drivers of Miami. They have a flat rate of 24 dollars to the airport but if they drive you to a hotel across from the airport they must charge you the metered rate which can be anywhere from 30-50 dollars. It all depends on the traffic. At least 3 or 4 drivers had the same story and they did not hesitate to move on to the next passenger if you questioned there policy. Shame on them!! We were fortunate to be charged only 30 dollars (because there was no traffic) to be driven to the Sleep Inn. Next time I will take "The Super Shuttle" or walk (lol).
All in all a great trip. Next time I will give Royal Caribbean a try.