We are all experienced cruisers, having cruised on multiple lines including Carnival, Princess, and RCCL. I am a silver Latitudes member, and this was the eighth cruise I have taken on NCL.
Day 1: Embarkation
Our plane landed early and we were picked up by SAS Transportation a few minutes after we called them. We arrived shortly after 11 and got in line to be processed. At 12, they started allowing passengers on board, and we entered the ship around 12:30. After eating lunch in the dining room, I took the kids to the pool and they changed into their swim suits which we had placed in the carry on bags. At 2:00, we were allowed to go down to our room.
Our room was an outside cabin on Deck 4 with a porthole. We were very close to the gangplank and it was pleasant to not have to wait for an elevator with a crowd after an excursion. We could walk straight to our rooms. This was the first time I had had a porthole, and the kids would bring their friends in to see it. In addition to curtains, it had a locking round door. My grandson enjoyed closing it and locking it, so I had to open it on a regular basis.
I registered both kids with their respective kids clubs, and they both attended the first night. I was surprised when my granddaughter came back earlier than I had expected. The teen program had activities that lasted past midnight, and she had, after all, informed the day before that teenagers do not need to sleep. However, in her first encounter as a newly hatched teenager with teens who were in high school and older than her, she did not feel as if she fit in very well. That all changed in a day or two and she found friends she cried about saying goodbye to on the final evening.
Day 2: At Sea
My grandson enjoyed the kids club, and I expected him to beg to be in it every minute possible as he had in the past. The pool with the slide and the bowling lanes enticed him to spend the entire first day at sea outside of the kids club. He made a good friend (Ronny, from Rhode Island) and the two boys had a wonderful time in the pool together and eating ice cream from the buffet. My granddaughter tried out some more of the teen activities and starting making good friends.
That night my grandson went into the kids club. While walking around the ship after the show, I saw my granddaughter jammed in a hot tub with what looked like about 20 other teens and my grandson marching and chanting with the other kids while on an Easter egg hunt.
Day 3: Roatan, Honduras
We did not get off the ship. I got one of those comfortable double chairs near the pool and read while the kids played in the pool.
Day 4: Zip Lining in Belize
I have been zip lining before and to Belize several times, but this was a first for both my grandchildren. If you ever get a chance to do this, I would highly recommend it. The location was absolutely wonderful with beautiful scenery and caves. The staff was professional and skilled. Don't bother to buy water on the ship to take with you. They give you plenty to drink as part of the excursion. After we finished, they took us to a field out in the middle of nowhere with a couple of thatched roof huts where they fed us lunch. Then they fired up a generator and set up a small computer network under the other thatched roof and generated photo CDs for us to buy. As someone who works in IT, I found that fascinating. Technology is everywhere now!
Day 5: Dolphin Encounter in Cozumel
My granddaughter and I had done this before, but this was the first time for her little brother. We did the encounter, and the kids swam in the pool while I waited to buy the photo and CD package. We went straight back to the ship to eat lunch, and then I placed the grandson in the kids' center for the paid babysitting while my granddaughter and I went shopping for a couple of hours. She posed with "Davey Jones" in the mall just off the pier for a photo. We did get some good buys. If you have the time, get away from the stores in that mall to make your purchases. You will save a lot of money. For example, one man offered me a "special" of $15 for a single carved wooden basket. After walking a couple of blocks, I got the same basket for 3 for $20.
Day 6: Another glorious, relaxing day at sea
I did play one expensive ($60) game of bingo. I was also reading my book in the Spinnaker Lounge up front when a salesman for Grey Goose vodka gave a talk about vodka and made a couple of sample drinks which were then distributed to everyone in the lounge free of charge.
Day 7: Private Island
We were supposed to be at the private island all day starting at 9 AM, but when we got up the captain made an announcement that we were joining in a search and rescue operation instead. It seems that some stupid man had jumped off the NCL Sky at 3 AM. We were one of 4 ships sailing in circles looking for him. Two helicopters circled overhead. The captain updated us every hour or so, and they handed out free rum punch. The kids at first thought this was exciting, and my grandson kept announcing to me that he thought he saw the man in the water. However, by noon it was starting to look like we were not going to go to the island at all, and my grandson was very unhappy because he had been practicing snorkeling all week in the pool. Finally about 2 they announced that we had been released and they started handing out tickets to the tender.
We actually got on the island at 4, close to the time that I had originally intended to leave. The ship did stay a couple of hours later than originally planned. They did not bring over any food, so there was no island barbecue, but they had had the barbecue on board by the pool. Some of the excursions like parasailing were cancelled. Snorkeling was half price. We did have fun, but because of the late time of the day I was actually chilled in the water.
You will never starve on board. I did not pay for any of the special restaurants. The food in the dining room was mediocre, but the food in the buffet was better than average. The chocolate buffet was the usual, but at least it was not at midnight and not just before dinner as I have experienced before.
David Naster, the comedian, struck me as the funniest person I had ever heard. For some reason my grandson decided that he would rather stick with me than go into the kids program that evening and I thought I would have to leave the show early because an eight-year-old boy could never sit through an hour of just talking. I was wrong. Part of his routine included lots of fart jokes with a hand-held whoopee cushion called the Master Blaster. My grandson loved it! And of course we had to buy the Master Blaster afterward to send home with him to his parents.
I saw David Naster twice more. He said that he was educated in psychology, and believed that laughter should be used for healing. The last night I saw him I laughed so hard I was crying.
The jugglers were excellent also, and the dance shows enjoyable.
I think NCL has made a great effort to train its staff in good service. We were greeted every time we passed a staff member and everyone was extremely helpful.