Background Info: I'm a 19 year old guy who has never been on a cruise line in my life. This was my first cruise line in general and also with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I have to say that I was a little nervous before actually getting to the cruise terminal. However, the moment I stepped on that ship, I knew that I was in for an exciting vacation. And an exciting vacation I did have. It was more than exciting... try FANTASTIC. I have to say that I really enjoyed it and would be willing to take another cruise with NCL.
Ship Info/Public Areas: The ship was originally the Superstar Leo until Norwegian Cruise Lines bought the ship in 2004. I have to say that overall this ship is beautiful. The Asian decor makes the ship classy and elegant. One of my favorite parts of the ship has to be the Grand Centrum. As soon as you walk in, this is the first thing you see. With three glass elevators, black marble floors, and fountains, you have to stare in amazement. Overall, I thought that the public areas on this ship were designed really well. On the 13th deck, there is the sun deck, a jogging track, a basketball court (which is also used for the dodgeball game), and a golf driving net, the 13th deck is also home to the Celebrity Teen Disco. I found the celebrity teen disco to be disappointing because I wasn't allowed in. They only allowed teens 13-17 in. You would think teen/19. Get the point? On the 12th deck you will find the Tivoli pool with 4 hot tubs. The 12th deck can get pretty packed during the day so if you especially want to use a hot tub go at night. There open till midnight on some nights. Also located on the 12th deck is the Internet cafe and the Galaxy of the Stars. The Galaxy of the Stars hosts many events such as the 70's, 80's, and NCL's White Hot Party. Located on the 8th deck you can go shopping at the jewelry store or visit the Duty Free Gift Shop for all of your ship souvenir needs. Want to view pictures that you've had taken during the week? Right across from the gift shop is the Galleria and Photo Gallery. Deck 7 is home to Maharajah's Casino. Deck 7&8 is also home to the Stardust Theater where you can see a different show every night. Overall the ship is designed for guests in mind.
Traveling to Cruise Terminal/Getting on the Ship/Presail:: Getting to the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal was a breeze. From Hartford, CT to Boston, Ma took an hour and a half. We left at about 10:00 a.m. and were there by 11:45 a.m. When we got off the highway my sister and mother saw the ship right away. However I did not seeing that this was my first cruise, I thought the ship was a building. When I finally saw it, I couldn't believe how huge it was. By the time we parked it was 11:50 a.m. We dropped off our luggage with the porter and went to stand in line to get our key cards. We got into the terminal and waited in line to check in and receive our key cards. I would say that we were in line for under 30 minutes. At 12:30 p.m. we walked on the ship. Once everything was taken care of at the check in desk in the terminal we got to go right on the ship. As soon as you walk on you are greeted with entertaining music and a glass of champagne or orange juice. When you first walk in the first thing is the Grand Centrum which again is beautiful. I knew this was going to be fun. Don't forget once your on your free to do what you want, when you want. No set schedules, dinners, etc... So my first stop was food. I needed something to eat so I headed up to the 13th deck where they were serving an all american BBQ. I got a cheeseburger with french fries which was delicious. At 2 p.m an announcement was made saying that you were allowed to go to your stateroom. I dropped off my bags and proceeded to explore the ship. At 3 p.m. I went back to the room to grab my life vest for the mandatory muster drill at 3:30. Word of advice just go. It's only 15 minutes. You go and they show you how to put on your life vest and what to do if the ship needs to be evacuated. It's also the perfect opportunity to take pictures of your fellow guests in funny orange life vest. If you don't go, they know (they take attendance) and you are required to go to the makeup drill. At 4 p.m everyone went up to the 12 and 13th deck for the Sailing Away party. Basically it's the time where you wave goodbye to everyone on land. The two highlights I enjoyed were watching the planes landing at Logan International. They are so close to the ship, that you could practically touch them. THe other was watching Paul Baya our cruise director jump into the pool with all of his clothes on. Paul was a great cruise director and definitely knew how to keep the guests happy.
Stateroom: We had an oceanview stateroom which was located on deck 6. Cabin # 6060. I have to say that for an oceanview stateroom, the size was pretty decent. There were two beds and a pull down bed from the ceiling. I slept on that bed and it was actually really comfortable. Even though the room was small the plus was the beds were high enough off the floor that you could store your luggage under the beds. This created more walking space since the closets aren't that big. The bathroom was what you would expect. Toilet, Sink & Shower. The nice thing about the toilet are was there was a glass (non-see-through) sliding door which offered you your privacy. I wish the shower door was like that. This one was see through. Overall, there were never any problems. The thermostat wasn't working correctly so we called maintenance and by the second day it was fixed. The front desk even sent a "check up" card to make sure we were happy it was fixed. The housekeeping staff (Joel) did an amazing job keeping our room clean and we were always anxious to see what towel animal would be on our bed at night.
Entertainment/Activities: The entertainment on this ship was fantastic. They had shows every night. They put on such shows such as On Broadway, On the Radio, The Second City Comedy Troupe, and Richard Burr (Magician). Overall I enjoyed all of these shows. In addition to this being a family vacation, the main reason why I was on this cruise, was because my sister was performing on the ship. The dance studio she goes to was invited by NCL to perform twice. Once on Saturday and the other on Wednesday. The highlight of the entertainment though was the International Crew night. Basically on the last night, the crew comes out and performs for you. Overall, there was a lot of great talent and I got some amazing pictures. In addition to the event's held in the Stardust they held events at night in the Galaxy of the Stars such as the 70's and 80's dance party. On a select night NCL hosts the White Hot Party. This is the main event of the whole trip. Everyone dresses in white and there is a huge dance party. I have to admit this was a blast but it was very chaotic. NCL needs to get their information out better. In the freestyle daily, they said that the party was open to everybody but when you got there they checked your ID's and if you were under 18 security turned you away. Well lets just say this created an uproar especially for parents who had brought there children with them. The parents started complaining and finally the staff started letting everybody including children. This raised one question that I liked. People were saying at the time "If it's for people 18 or older why are they selling children's NCL White Hot Party T-Shirts." Other than that though the party was pretty "HOT!!" Other activities that I enjoyed were dodgeball and watching the hot dog eating contest that my friend participated in. Keep in mind I didn't do much on the ship the days we were in Bermuda.
Dining: When it comes to dining, NCL had this covered. You will never go hungry with the 11 restaurants on this ship. In the mood for Italian? Try La Trattoria. How about Japanese? Well the chef's at the Teppanyaki are ready to cook something up right before your eyes. In the mood for a quiet dinner? Windows and The Garden are the place to go for a relaxed casual setting. I've been to these restaurants mentioned and everyone of them were fantastic. La Trattoria I had Fettuccine Alfredo. The Teppanyaki, I had steak and chicken (BTW: The fried rice is out of this world). At Windows, I enjoyed a nice Caesar salad appetizer with a tortellini entrEe and at the Garden I really loved trying the spicy pasta dish with sausage and vegetables. The spices were just right. For breakfast I ate at Raffles court which is a buffet type restaurant serving everything from made to order omelets, bacon, sausage and amazing hash browns. Raffles doesn't just serve breakfast. They also serve lunch and dinner. In the mood for a late night snack? Try the free 24 hour room service where you can get the best pepperoni pizza around and a delicious slice of chocolate cake. Or if you want some good old American food the Blue Lagoon is also open 24 hours serving Cheeseburgers, Hot Dogs, Chicken Nuggets, etc.. With the exception of the specialty restaurants which cost anywhere from $10-$25 all of the food is free. Soda is served on the ship so if you are an avid soda drink, I would suggest buying a soda card. One thing you don't want to miss is the chocolate buffet. On a select night, Raffles is transformed into a chocolate heaven. Chocolate desserts everywhere. This is something you don't want to miss. Be sure to get in line early cause EVERYONE goes.
Staff: There really isn't much to say about the staff except that they are all FANTASTIC. If you needed something they went out of there way to get it for you. They were quick and efficient. They were friendly with every guest on board and definitely made you feel welcome. One thing I really liked about every crew member on board was they were always happy and they also got along with there fellow crew members.
Disembarkation: The disembarkation process on NCL was a breeze. Going with the concept of "Freestyle Cruising," NCL allows you to walk off the ship at anytime. Basically they have color coded luggage tags that you pick up at the front desk. These color coded tags correspond to certain times you could walk off the ship. Since we had an event to get to in another part of MA we decided to do the walk off with your luggage option. They started letting people off the ship at 8:45 a.m. and we were off and cleared customs by 9 a.m. As much as I didn't want to get off the ship I had to.
All in all I loved sailing with NCL. Even with it being almost a month later I miss it, am having cruise withdrawals and would love to go back. Hopefully I will be able to take a cruise with NCL in the near future. I actually miss it so much I applied for a job with NCL lol. Great cruise though.