This was the 8th cruise for my wife and I. We are both in our 50's and have cruised Carnival, Royal Carib, Costa, Celebrity and NCL. Our last 3 cruises have been on NCL, we found that we love the Freestyle cruising. Eat when you want, where you want.
We booked this cruise in December of 2009 well before launch. As everyone else, we got nervous reading the first reviews. My suggestion- FORGET ABOUT THEM! Plain and simple, the ship is AMAZING!
Cabins - Wonderful design. Yes, a bit on the small side for a balcony, but loved the style. The separate shower and toilet? We thought it was a great design. Loved the curved doors and big shower area. We had one of the cabins on the hump, the balcony was HUGE. We had our room steward bring us a lounger to take advantage of all the real estate.
Service - Fantastic EXCEPT for O'Sheehans. Had a tough time getting waited on twice, mentioned this to the restaurant manager and he comped us a very special dinner in La Cucina More
to make up for it. We spent a lot of time in the casino, and the bar and wait staff there absolutely ROCKED! Room steward (Luis) was also professional and top notch. My advice to anyone who sails this ship, if service isn't up to your expectation, let management know and they will make it right.
Food - Very good! We ate at Manhattan Room, Tepanayki, La Cucina (twice!), Cagneys, Noodle Bar, O'Sheehans and the buffets. No complaints whatsoever on the quality of the food anywhere on the ship. You don't need to go to the pay venues for good food, we found the no charge restaurants featured very good food and service
Entertainment - It was really good. Loved the Blue Men, Legends (especially Michael Jackson!) and Howl at the Moon. Actually too much to see and do, we found we were constantly afraid we would miss something. Spent alot of time in the Casino, they have installed tons of smoke eaters, we didn't notice an overbearing smokiness. One word of caution, the slots on this ship are TIGHT! Spent a lot of money with little return. That said, the selection and variety of slots is awesome. Too bad they didn't pay a little better!
Pool Area - Loved it! Never had a problem getting chairs on any day, and very little lines on any of the water slides. Probably due to the fact that there were not a lot of kids on this cruise (yes!). We aren't swimmers, so the small pools did not bother us a bit. Spice H2O was a great place as well to hang out and relax. They should show something more interesting on the big screen, we did get bored of seeing the same scenes over and over. Maybe show some movies or videos during the day.
Ice Bar - What a hoot! Went in with our friends and had the time of our life. It is really, really COLD in there! So cool to be in a 17 degree freezer drinking vodka drinks out of ice glasses while you are cruising the Carib.
Ports - Who cares! Went to Maya Chan Beach at Costa Maya, great time, highly recommend. Long, bumpy ride to the resort, but once there you are treated like royalty by David and his staff. Best tacos I have ever ate. Roatan and Cozumel, been there done that many times before, stayed on the ship and enjoyed the EPIC.
Embarkation/Debarkation - Super smooth, we were both on and off the ship in under 30 minutes.
There was so much to do and see on this ship, we hardly covered 1/4 of it. This would be a great ship to do a B2B on. We never went to bed before 12:30, most nights up after 2am. Overall we were very pleased with the ship, the staff, and every thing we did on board. My only suggestion to NCL? Loosen up the darn slots!! Less