Embarkation: After a lot of concern about whether Hurricane Danielle would wipe out our cruise plans, we proceed from upstate NY to the Black Falcon Terminal in Boston. Parking was easy. Checking bags, customs, lining up--it was all smooth and better organized than last year. We were on the ship by 11:15 and eating lunch in Windows by 12.
Cabin: We were in an Oceanview cabin on Deck 4 (the only one that accommodates 4 people. My son had to stay in my parents cabin.) Thats one shortcoming with NCL: not enough options for families to stay in one stateroom without breaking the bank on a suite. The cabin was large enough for the four of us, with the bunk and pull out sofa. I don't see why they don't do this in balcony or picture window rooms. The room was not nearly as clean as it could have been, and I found that was the fault of our steward Sony (more on him later.)
Dining: We had most of our meals in Windows, except for breakfast in Raffles while in Bermuda (for sake of time.) The wait staff was excellent. They took special care with our kids, and made a very memorable experience for them. Here's one example: the Head Chef in Windows Barrington and his Assistant Mattie came to our table to speak with our daughters about their meals. The next day a plate of chocolate covered strawberries had been sent to our cabin and to my parents. Then, the same two gentleman arranged for all of us to get into the Chocolate Party 20 minutes early--ahead of a huge line! It made us feel special. The food was, overall, very good.
Entertainment: The shows were mediocre. The magician Jorgos was very good. We spent most of our evenings in Champagne Charlies listening to Emily and Arvin. They are excellent. Not really entertainment, but we used and appreciated the Workout Rooms and Sauna.
Bermuda: A beautiful country. Dockyard is a great port--off the boat by 11:15. We bought the 3 day ferry and bus pass. Day one: Crystal Caves and swam on Shelly Bay beach. Day two: Ferry to St Georges. Walking tour of beautiful town. Cab out to Ft St Catherine. Swam on Ft St Catherine Beach and Tobacco Bay. Ferry back. Walked around Dockyard and hit the Glass Store/Rum Cake Co. Day three: Saw the Maritime Museum in Dockyard, and then took the bus to Gibbs Hill Light. We were worried about not making it back to the ship by departure time, so we went back to Dockyard to swim at Snorkel Park. The fish on the reef there were great and varied. One mishap: I opened a bag of Cheerios underwater to attract fish and was swarmed by about 300!!! Got bit by an unknown assassin. My big complaint with NCL: we should have stayed over on Tuesday (like we did last year.) There was plenty of time to get back to Boston (they did 8 kts back) and it just rushed our last day.
Our Cabin Steward: His name was Sony. I thought he was shifty when I first met him, but the kids liked the towel animals so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Until I picked up my bill on the last day, and found he charged me for a 4.50 bottle of water. In trying to clear this up three different times, I dealt with Guest Services and the Supervisor of the Housekeeping on Deck 4. All of these people treated me like I was being dishonest over a 4.50 charge--irregardless of our huge bill and Cruise Rewards that we bought! Sony claimed I signed for it, but noone could produce a signature. Truth was: he only put water in our room half way through the cruise b/c he was lazy and forgetful. I actually went to the Cruise Consultant David Ward to cancel our Rewards (as did my father). He more than rectified the problem, and we choose not to cancel. But housekeeping and Guest Services--they left MUCH to be desired.
Disembarkation: Chose to carry our own bags at 8:30. It was a cinch and we were in our car by 9:30.