We have been home from our trip for a week now wish we weren't. We are a couple in their mid-40's who have been married for 25 years (next week). We chose this cruise based on the dates that fit in our schedule and because it received pretty good ratings overall.
One of the big draws was the Free Style Cruise option. I realize that many people desire the formal or special experience of a cruise dinner, but for us the best part was not participating in an assigned dinner time and having to chat with strangers. In fact, we ate all of our meals at the buffet - and didn't gain any weight. We looked at the menus for the main dining rooms each day, but in the end, they weren't worth getting dressed up for. We preferred staying casual and eating at will. I will say for all those that question this that I am the total opposite of a foodie. In fact, I would prefer to skip most meals. With that said, the buffet was never a disappointment. I really liked the variety of food.
As for ports....I read one person's review that stated they should do away with the Freeport stop. We enjoyed this one the most. It was very laid back and relaxed. The "straw market" was low key and enjoyable. Sticking with our theme of freedom, we opted not to take any excursions. Instead, we enjoyed the areas around the Ports of Freeport and Nassau and caught a cab when ready. In Freeport, we went to Lucaya and had a couple drinks at an outside bar where we met some people from St Augustine. I highly recommend Kalik Gold. In fact, I'm trying to see if I can find it anywhere in the States.
We then went to the Casino across the road and were lucky to walk away winners. The only reason we left is so we didn't miss the boat. Nassau was as we remembered it. We walked through the straw market, made our way to Senor Frogs for a beer and then caught a cab to Atlantis. I understand the fascination with this hotel chain; however I felt it was very similar to a Las Vegas hotel. We again found our favorite beverage - Kalik Gold and threw some money away in the Casino, which was tight. Trying to get around the common areas was difficult as there were 4 or 5 cruise ships docked. In the end, we headed back to the ship for a relaxed lunch and time on the 2nd deck overlooking the pool. It was a nice afternoon.
The private island was nice. I was surprised that the tender ran as the water was rough - but it was a fun ride. It rained while on the island but only for a few minutes. We stayed for a couple hours and headed back by mid-afternoon. The most entertaining part was watching Charlie (Asst CD) inform people that they couldn't get off on deck 3. He does a splendid job of telling people to get back on the elevator and head up.
We watched the first night's show, the Newlywed Game and caught a bit of Liar, Liar. We really wanted to see the Comedian, but they put him in a small venue which filled up fast.
I loved the room. I'm not looking for a massive space on a cruise, so that wasn't an issue with 2 adults. We had a balcony room on the 10th floor, so everything was very convenient for us. The only time we rode the elevator is if we went down for the Casino, Stores or Shows. If possible, I highly recommend a balcony. I agree with those that say all you do is sleep in the room, however we found ourselves sitting on the balcony quite a bit. It was a better view than what you'd get on the upper decks.
Embarkation was easy as we were one of the last to arrive - thank you Key West. With 13 minutes to spare, we breezed in and walked right up to the ship. Disembarkation was also easy. Our flight left out of Fort Lauderdale, so we simply booked the NCL transfer. We opted to take our own bags and got up early. We had breakfast, grabbed our bags and walked right through Customs - NO LINE! We sat on the bus for a while, but that was fine. At least we were on and my husband took the opportunity to finish up some work while I read a book.
All in all, I thought it was a great time. We've been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and this cruise was just as good as both of them. Our favorite part was the Freestyle feeling. I highly recommend this for the price. It was cheap, easy and fun.
Now, as for the Key West portion of our trip.....WONDERFUL!!!!!