We heard mixed reviews about cruising, and decide to give it a try, to see whether it was the type of vacation we would enjoy. I'm happy to say that we loved it, and can hardly wait for our next cruise.
We chose Norwegian because of the Freestyle cruising. It met our needs perfectly ... do what you want, whenever you want. We chose the 4 day Bahamas cruise, to see whether we actually would enjoy cruising. Four days was good for a first time cruise, but next time I'm going for seven days.
Embarkation: Getting onto the ship was very smooth. We dropped our luggage with the porter, and then got into a very short line. Picked up our room keys, gave them our credit cards, they took our photos, and we were off. The ship didn't leave until 5:00, but we were on board around 1:00. Once on board we signed up for dinner that night at Cagney's since it was my friend's birthday and we wanted to splurge that night. We explored the ship, and then headed to the Garden Cafe, and enjoyed some lunch.
Rooms: In a very short time they announced that we could get into our rooms. We expected the room to be small, and it really was. Small but efficient. Luckily there were only two of us. I can't imagine how three people fit into those rooms. And fortunately we booked a balcony room. I don't think I'll be able to cruise now without a balcony. It was simply awesome. We spent a lot of time out there, just enjoying the water, watching as we arrived and left ports, watching the sunrise and sunset, or just relaxing. It was totally worth the extra money for a balcony. I had ordered the birthday package, and it was nice to open the door and find a beautiful cake, balloons, a sign, a banner and confetti. Very festive way to start the cruise. Oh yeah, and the daily towel animals were adorable.
Food: During the cruise we tried Crossings Main Dining Room, Palace Main Dining Room, Garden Cafe, Great Outdoors Cafe, Cagney's Restaurant, food from the Longboard lounge, and breakfast room service. We really enjoyed all the food, and felt that we ate like royalty. We also saw a BBQ (burgers and corn on the cob) on the pool deck on the first day, but didn't get a chance to try it out.
Entertainment: We went to the evening show at the Stardust Theater every night. The entertainment was very good, with a different type of show each night, that usually lasted about an hour. Very nice theater, that seats about 1,000 people.
Internet: We brought a laptop, and signed up for 60 minutes at 40 cents/minute. Ended up buying 120 minutes in total. It was easy to sign up for internet, but unfortunately you can't use it in your room. We had to go into the public areas to use the laptop. The Mark Twain Library is a good quiet place to use your laptop. They also have some computers you can use in the Internet Cafe, which never seemed very busy.
Swimming pools: There were two pools and four hot tubs on the main deck. We tried out the two pools, which were very nice. It was busy and sometimes crowded in the pools. But it was nice that there was only one row of lounge chairs on the pool deck, and another row on the deck above. In addition, there was a children's pool and hot tub at the front of the ship, which was nice to keep the kids in their own area.
Casino: We tried the slots one night. I was surprised to find that they had slots as low as 2 cents. I expected them all to be $1 or more. Spent about a half hour there and left with some cash, which was nice. They had about 10 card tables, and lots of slots, but it never seemed very crowded when we walked through.
Cell phones: They don't work on the ship, or in the ports. Which was really quite nice, since nobody was texting or talking on the phone non-stop. Just like the old days.
Great Stirrup Cay: Since I can't review it under the "Port Reviews" below, I'll review it here. It was my favorite day on the cruise. The tender boats can fit about 450 people. So we only waited about 10 minutes to get a tender to the island. The colour of the water was stunning ... the most beautiful turquoise water I have ever seen. We could see all these colourful fish around us, without even using a snorkel. We rented two lounge chairs with the cabana, because of the hot sun. Lunch was served between 11:30 and 2:00 and was very good. BBQ burgers, hot dogs, chicken, corn on the cob, salads, dessert, fruit. Perfect for a day at the beach. My friend had a beach massage which she totally enjoyed. All in all, it was a day in paradise.
Hospitality: The hospitality was outstanding. Our room stewards knew our names, and always greeted us in the hall, and asked how our day was. All the staff on the ship were always pleasant and always helpful.
Summary: It was a great time, and I would highly recommend that everyone try a cruise once in their life.