1. Food. The "Freestyle" cruising concept is a rip off. Especially in the dining department. If you aren't interested in the "specialty" restaurants, get ready to complain - A LOT - about the food in the regular dining rooms, the buffets, and the "Late Night" spot. If, however, you wish to actually enjoy a meal aboard ship, be prepared to plop down $30 per person, PER NIGHT, to have a decent quality meal. "Good" is about as far as I will allow my compliments to wander regarding Norwegian's specialty restaurants. For me, I would have rather paid $100 less per person for the Carnival cruise, where the food is always "Good" and I don't have to pay a cover to get it.
2. Service. If you are a big drinker, get ready to be a big spender. Those drink waiters are selling SHARKS! You want some water? Forget about it. Water is free and therefore there is no tip to be earned in bringing it to you. You're only halfway done with that fruity cocktail? Well order another one. NOW! No, RIGHT NOW! And don't even think about ordering from that other waiter. I won't come back when you really do want something.
They're not much better in the dining rooms. No extra touches. No special treatment. You're on a "Freestyle" cruise, remember? So that means you don't get the same waiter every night who remembers what you like and brings it without asking. No one to sneak you a double portion of lobster or an extra steak. Nope. Nada. Nothin. Oh, and did I mention the food was bad?
3. Peeping Toms. We were pleased that our room was well kept during our stay, except for the fact that we never met our room steward. That is until the fateful day when we heard a knock on the door while we were....um...indisposed, and even after we yelled loudly "NO THANK YOU! GO AWAY!", the room steward and his cleaning companion went ahead and OPENED THE DOOR ANYWAY! Yep. That's right. We were exposed to the entire 10th floor hallway. I screamed "GET OUT!" and the look on their faces was pure mortification. He slammed closed the door before he could even stammer an apology. We were so embarrased that we really just wanted to forget about the incident, so we didn't report it. (Can you imagine that conversation with the Concierge desk?!?) Still, we were sort of hoping for a personal apology from the room steward. Alas, he never came to our room again.
Our cabin #10607 was a standard interior cabin. I really hate being in a small room with no natural light for a week, but it's the only affordable way for us to cruise. The room was very clean, though I always keep sandals on my feet while I walk around on the carpet. You never know what has been on those carpets. For two people the room was just adequate, with enough closet space for our clothes and shoes, a little vanity area to put on makeup, generous shelves in the bathroom for toiletries, and nightstands with drawers. We always had fresh towels and we got our bedding changed upon request.
The ports were awesome and the weather aboard ship was grand. Beyond that, NCL didn't give me any reason to be happy with their cruise line or my vacation.
For $26 USD. That's right. 2. 6. !!
We didn't find anything to buy in the Golden Zone, but the little mercado right at the port actually had some great stuff. The merchants there were truly willing to barter. Hubby got one of those mexican style collard shirts for $12, and we bought our traditional hand-carved wooden sea-turtles. A big one and a small one for $20.
Overall, a great port. We should have spent some more time shopping, though.
The husbands kept themselves busy at the beach under a palapa, drinking beers and ordering chips and salsa from the bar. They had to rebuff a few bracelet salesgirls, but not too much harrassment. When the massage was over, we spent a couple more hours together at the pool and got a nice tan.
Finally, to just put the icing on the cake, we took a short cab ride to downtown. The first order of business was to ask an American shop owner where to get a bite to eat. She recommended a place off the main street downtown (sorry, can't remember the name!!) that is a bit of a hike uphill. They serve the greatest, freshest mahi mahi fajitas and fishbowl sized margaritas. Really truly delicious. Not super cheap, but definately affordable.
After a bit of shopping and a quick trip to Walmart for sunscreen (yay!), we headed back to the ship and soaked in the gorgeous view of the bay.
By the way, the NH Krystal resort was so terrific that our friends went back to spend a week. Unfortunately, that was during the Mexican Swine Flu outbreak and they were the only tourists in town. They got harrassed and haggled every time they left the resort so they just stayed put and enjoyed the pool. :)