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.
We got off the boat quickly i.e. in minutes, which was surprising since we expected large lines. Waited a while and finally connected with "Nugget" from "Smiling Pat's Adventures". Nugget took us for a tour in has van, and over to Paradise Cove. It was a beautiful beach, where we spent a couple of hours swimming in the turquoise water. And then for a tour of a small marketplace in Freeport, past some beautiful homes, and then spent some time shopping in the Port Lucaya Marketplace.
It was great way to spend a day. I could easily have spent the entire day at Paradise Cove, but we wanted to see some of the sights, since we had never been there before. I would definitely like to go back.
It was a very quick disembark, into the hot, hot, hot weather in Nassau. From the ship we could see Atlantis, but weren't interested in visiting there. We walked through the cruise ship welcome center, past all the people offering many types of excursions, cab rides, horse carriage rides, etc. You can find every type of excursion, right there at the port, if you haven't booked ahead of time.
The downtown area is basically two streets running parallel to the port. There were LOTS of jewelry shops. I have never seen so many sparkling diamonds and gem stones in one place. There were a bunch of t-shirt shops, a very nice perfume shop, and a linen shop that seemed out of place, plus a bunch of banks. There was also a straw marketplace, which was extremely hot. I don't know how people stay there all day without passing out. It has many very tight rows of t-shirts, towels, purses, caps, etc. After a couple of rows they all seem the same though.
There really weren't too many places to grab a bite to eat. Senor Frogs was loud and hot and bustling with tourists. Hard Rock Cafe was busy, but you can find a Hard Rock anywhere. We couldn't find any local places to grab a quick lunch. So we ended up having ice cream, and then returning to the ship for a late lunch.
Next time, I hope to see more of the island and visit one of their beautiful beaches. And still squeeze in some time for the great shopping there.