Due to work constraints, we had to fly the morning of the cruise. Never done that before, but had no problems since it was the first flight of the day to Miami from our airport. Arrived in Miami at 9:50 and was checked in at the cruise terminal by 10:30 where we were in holding group 2. Before completing check-in, you are asked to complete a short questionnaire on your current health status to determine if you are a risk for illness. We were on the boat between 11 and 11:30. The boat seemed to be in great shape. Loved the carpet in the hallways. The fish ALWAYS swim towards the front of the ship....saved us a few times.
Our room on the Norway Deck appeared to be ready as the hallway doors leading to the staterooms were open and not closed off like they are on other cruiselines we have experienced, and our stateroom door was shut while many of the other stateroom doors were open while they finished the last of the set-up. So, after eating lunch on the Lido deck, we went to our room and dropped off our totes. I went exploring on the ship and basking in the sun since we had so little of it this summer. However, my husband had been a Guardian on the Central Missouri Honor Flight two days before, taking WWII veterans to Washington DC which lasted almost 24 hours from start to finish, so he was wiped out as he had not had any sleep and decided to stay in the room and get some much needed and deserved sleep. A bit later he was asked to vacate the room. Not a biggie, but the room steward told him that the room was ready for occupancy, but because of liquor issues, etc., they couldn't let him in the room yet. He went to a lounge and tried to rest there. Around 1:30 or 2:00 they made the announcement that the rooms were ready. Cabin was EXTREMELY SMALL and the showers even smaller. But they were sufficient.
The OJ and Champagne upon entering the ship was a nice touch. The lunch buffet instantly caught my eye with Prime Rib. YUMMO!!! There were a few other items I enjoyed, but not a lot. And I am not a picky eater. We checked the buffet food out a few times during the cruise and decided we would eat in the dining room every night. The Palace Dining Room was good. The food was fixed to our liking and the wait staff was very efficient and didn't bat an eye when the lady at the table next to us ordered EVERY DESSERT on the menu. The setup of the buffet is a bit awkward at the least. When you are going through the line, it will continue as a flip side to what you have already been through. Rather than having the desserts separate, and in a different location, the desserts are like the breaking point where the buffets meet. The Longboard Bar and Grill was okay. I thought the bar service in there was a bit slow. My husband ordered Pepperoni Pizza from room service and left half on the plate as it was not very good. There really wasn't a big variety of food. When we sailed on Princess to Alaska in 2004, the choices were endless. We have yet to find another buffet up to the quality it was on the Sun Princess.
Matt Baker, the Cruise Director - AMAZING!!!!!! The man should be training cruise directors on ALL the cruiselines. Rather than just emcee the events, Matt was in the center of the event making a fool of himself like everyone else involved. PRICELESS MATT!!! GREAT JOB!!!! The entertainment was okay. It was nice to see shows in the lounge where the dancers were clothed for a family show, unlike on Carnival where they are in basically nothing. Carnival does warn you ahead of time about the costumes, but I really think the early show should be more family friendly and that is what NCL did. Thank you for that. The comedian Paul Pursel(?) was really funny. The Quest show was a riot. However, my favorite was the "FOUNTAINS" Musical. Matt...you were definitely the best and the hit of the show!!!!! I will always remember NCL's Fountains Musical when I hear that music...and I will really laugh!!!!!!
Shore Excursions - Went to Atlantis and got day passes for $120 adults and I believe they said that kids were $89. Spent the day at Aqua Adventure and the last hour or so at the beach. With the day passes purchased from Atlantis, you also get 2 - 4x6 photos that they take at various locations at the park. At Great Stirrup Cay, we did the parasailing. It was a great day for it. They tell you your ride will be 7 - 8 minutes long. I believe our ride was 5 minutes at the max. However, there was a storm on the horizon and I believe they were rushing to make sure they got in as many rides as they could. We got back to the beach, ate lunch at the BBQ that was set up (not real good - except for the fruit) and then it POURED DOWN rain. We then headed back to the boat. Had never been tendered in or out of a port before, but it went very smooth, even in the long lines to get out of the storm.
I only saw three maybe four photo ops around the ship which surprised me since Carnival is LOADED with them. One of the photographers has a white backdrop and is totally amazing. Her ideas and layouts are great. We ended up buying several of the photos she took.
Played the 2 cent slot machines in the casino. Got free bonus spins on my first spin and another free bonus spin in the bonus spin. So I walked away with an extra $40 plus dollars at that point.
Didn't use the fitness center as there really wasn't any time, but it looked great. No kids with us, so I can't tell you anything about the kids area. Actually, didn't see many kids on the ship. Sail Away Party as always...GREAT!!!
We did self-assist at 8:30 in the morning and had no lines and no problems. We had checked our account the prior evening in case there were any discrepancies so we could take care of them at that time rather than the morning of debarkation. No issues, everything was fine. Shared a cab to the airport at a $24 flat rate.