Travelled with my wife and 7 year old daughter from London for a two week western and eastern Caribbean cruise originating in Miami This review will be useful for UK travellers primarily giving tips that I would have liked to have received before booking myself.
We booked a combined fly stay cruise – thus we spent the first night at the Sofitel near the airport . Nothing wrong with the hotel just a typical airport hotel but In hindsight I would have organised my own flights and booked one of the many boutique hotel In south beach ($20 cab ride from ship terminal ) and the family could have a night out in Miami before you board . On the return you don’t have to mess around with NCL transfers just do the “easy walk off option” and maybe book a day room back at the hotel you stayed at on the way in – don’t arrive at Miami airport too early it is pretty basic.( Zagreb 1985)
Boarding the ship was fine no issues there – pretty impressive space – loads of bars and restaurants .The previous reviews have captured the essence of the ship sp as a previous cruiser on P & O ships my impressions are as follows : the cabins were surprisingly spacious and well designed – cannot see what the fuss is about as regards the separate shower and loo . Admittedly the toilet door may as well not be there as regards sounds and smells !! . Also stateroom door can slam shut pretty aggressively so take care with the kids fingers .No library , no promenade desk and very few paperbacks in the shop and no magazine kiosk.
The online TV system froze a couple of times during the stay – go to front desk and they can reboot from there , don’t call the operator waste of time . Another pet hate was there is about half a dozen kids TV shows played on a continuous loop –( the TV was handy to keep our daughter happy whilst getting ready in the evenings ) . Kids club superb , and our daughter loved the slides and pool area . However the pools are ridiculously small . when busy its standing room only .Young kids will still jump into the pool ( try and stop them !! ) and plenty of people where getting bashed ( an older American guy totally lost it after getting hit by a kid it for the third time ) – so just keep an eye on your child when its busy ( NCL don’t monitor the pool ) you don’t want a chubby 12 year old landing on you or your kids
Also deck surface very slippery when wet , the staff are constantly vacuuming up standing water . oh and the incessant hawking of the drink service was very irritating .the H20 spice area at the back was so cluttered with railings it reminded me of a cattle market or the queuing area at a Disney ride – that needs sorting out . At night just kids messing around , seemed to be about no imposition of the over 18/21 rule.
Food quality and choice fine ( very good in Cagneys ) the cover charge is where the industry is going these days so you need to build that cost into your overall budget – drink costs are ok and if you like wine with your dinner (or whenever) take advantage of the “wine programme” go to the Atrium coffee bar within the first two days of the cruise and buy up the eight bottles from a selected list at 20% discount – on a two week back to back cruise you can do it again the following week as well .
Tours overpriced and you can do them cheaper yourself but no surprises there , loads of seasoned US travellers just rented cars for the day and hit the beaches - just need to do your research.
To sum up , it looks like NCL have thrown a lot of concepts into the ship to see what will work and what doesn't and now doubt in due course they will have it spot on - but in the meantime great for kids , gambling and shows , not so good for relaxing and looking at the Ocean slipping by , or taking in a port talk that gives you some history of the place you are visiting ( not excursion pitches and shopping guides )