First, I admit we will probably be biased. We got a penthouse suite on the Norwegian Sky so we did receive special treatment throughout the cruise. If you can swing the cost of one of the suites, I highly recommend it.
EMBARKATION: Getting on the ship was a breeze. After going through security, we proceeded to the VIP check in. It was quiet, calm and easy. We had some tea and were offered small sandwiches, fruit, etc., while we waited. Our concierge, Virginia, welcomed us and set me up for a spa treatment right away. She also set up all our special restaurant reservations. We got a brief tour of the ship before dining at Cagney's for lunch (for suite passengers only), then headed to our room.
SPA: I got a manicure/pedicure in the spa before the ship departed. The crew member was nice and only talked after I let her know I was interested in chatting. I felt that the work was only fair and definately overpriced. However, this was the only treatment I got so I can't comment on the massages or other treatments.
ROOM: We stayed in the Hydra Suite, one of the penthouse suites. We LOVED it. At first it felt small, but as the cruise got going it was everything we needed. Comfortable, private and enough space. We had a private deck which we used often. The afternoon canapes we received were perfect. We got two towel animals and our room was cleaned twice per day. We can't imagine staying in a smaller room now (spoiled).
STAFF SERVICE: Very good! Our concierge, butler and cabin steward were very attentive and provided the highest level of service. The reception desk was good, however once I could not reach anyone when calling from our room and another time our morning wake-up call was half an hour early.
FOOD: Again, a bit biased. For breakfast and lunch we ate in Cagney's for the suite rooms and everything was wonderful. For dinner we ate only at Le Bistro, the French specialty restaurant (recommended). We were always very happy with the meal and the service was exceptional. We were definately satisfied with the food on the boat, and we have eaten at some of the best gourmet rooms in the U.S. However, we did not eat in the main dining rooms or the buffet, so I can't comment on them.
PORTS OF CALL: Freeport, Grand Bahama Island was ok. We went on a shore excursion with the Seaworld Explorer semi-submarine and that was very fun (recommended). Be sure to bring small bills as they do ask for tips. However, if you don't want to be stuck in Port Lucaya for a while after the excursion, take a cab back to Freeport.
Nassau - this was our favorite. We visited the public library, the Bahamas Historical Society Museum (recommended - get the tour from Tony) and Fort Fincastle. All very interesting. The straw market was disappointing - 100 vendors all selling the same stuff all made in the Phillipines. And more fake designer handbags than you can shake a Pina Colada at. Recommend sticking to the real sites and avoiding the vendors.
Great Stirrup Cay - Norwegian Cruiseline's private island. We actually didn't get off the boat for this port, but if we do this cruise again (and we may!) we will probably try to do the parasailing. However, since it's freestyle cruising and you're free to...whatever...we did, and stayed on the boat, relaxing and having wine.
FITNESS CENTER: I visited the fitness center three times during the four night cruise. They have a pretty decent area for a medium size ship and I always got a machine. Bring your own water, though, and watch your room key - if you leave it on the machine while you work out you might demagnitize the key and have to have it re-issued.
CASINO: It's a small area but they have all the big games. I won $80 on a $1 slot. Smoking is permitted there, so be advised if you have an aversion to smoke.
POOL: We didn't really hang out at the pool, but it did look a little small to me. If you don't care, then no worries. If you're a huge pool person, this may not be the boat for you.
LOUNGES: We would have liked to see a real jazz lounge. The 70's night at Dazzles was very fun, though. They keep you updated on all the goings-on, so read the daily itenerary they leave in your room. There was a pub crawl, which we missed, but it looked fun.
DEBARKATION: You could choose whether you wanted to leave your bags out for pick up or carry them off yourself. We chose to carry our own. Again, having a suite got us special priveleges and we didn't have to stand in line to get off the ship. It's an early departure, so unless you get up really early the last day really isn't a part of the trip.
THE FINAL WORD: We loved being on this ship. It was relaxing, fun, and exactly what we were looking for in a vacation. You could really do whatever you wanted when you wanted to do it. If you wanted to party, you could. Sit and drink and listen to music, you could do that too. Fine dining? Check. Casual dining? Check. Get off the boat/stay on the boat as you please? Check. Loaf and play games in the library? Check. We can't wait to go on another Norwegian cruise. We are sold on "Freestyle"!