Embarkation: Arrived around 12:30 p.m. Check-in process was very efficient, short waiting time to board. Upon boarding the ship, there was no one stationed at the entrance to say "Welcome Aboard!" or to provide directions to anywhere.
Cabin: We were in a Spa Balcony cabin. Initial impression is pleasing, but the designers must not have had to build and use the cabin layout. The separate toilet and shower are basically in the room and are not very private. The cabins with the shower by the front door have the potential to have your cabin mate come in while you drying off possibly creating an embarrassing situation. The toilet is separated from the rest of the room by only a piece of glass. Regardless of the privacy concern, it’s pretty annoying to be awakened in the night by the loud flush of the toilet. (Experienced cruisers know that sound). The small sink is in the bedroom. I usually stay out a bit later than my wife so the bathroom configuration causes me to disturb her while getting ready for bed. In a balcony room, when one person was using the sink, or standing at the foot of the bed, a second person cannot pass. The curved sofa was hard and uncomfortable and it’s hard to see the TV from it since the flat screen TV does not swivel. Most of the TV channels are for the ship, or are cable news channels. There is an E! tv channel, and one called “Favorites”. Any movies have to be purchased for at least $9.95 each.
Meals: Ordinary meals, no outstanding items on the menus. Service in the Manhattan dining room was very slow, TASTE was better. The Garden Café is the buffet area. Plenty of options and space, tables weren’t too difficult to find.
24 hour food: Room service took 45 minutes each time we called. Once was just for a pitcher of iced tea. O’Sheehan’s has 24 hour food and good deserts. For anyone wanting a slice of late night pizza, there is none to be found. However, you can get a pizza through room service for delivered almost anywhere on the ship for $5.
Specialty Restaurants: We only used Teppanyaki. Food was good, but the table holds 11 and my view was of the back of the chef.
Entertainment: Good to Excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed Blue Man Group, Second City, Legends in Concert, Presumed Murdered, and Cirque Dreams. I don’t think Presumed Murdered was worth $20/each. Cirque Dreams was our favorite. It was very entertaining and a great dinner. Preferred seating is $10 extra but was so was worth it. Spice/H2O – The adult only area was a neat idea, but it is right behind the ship’s exhaust. The few times we were up there it smelled like diesel fumes.
Shore Excursions: St Maarten – Booked a “Surf and Turf” excursion not offered on the ship. Lots of fun. Toured the island by Jeep and took 2 man boats out to decent snorkel site. Guide Megan was great. St Thomas – Did the Coral World Sea-Trek through the ship. Great unique experience. Bahamas – Segway Tour. Great excursion, lots of fun. Group size is limited to 10, so book early!
Casino: Huge Casino with lots of slots and tables. Dealers were a mix of some friendly and some disinterested. Very smoky. NCL has even placed air purifiers throughout the Casino to help the situation.
SPA: We had a SPA Balcony room that when we booked claimed to have 24hr key card access. NCL apparently changed this and access for anyone is 8am to 10pm. SPA is nice. I have heard that if you don’t get a SPA access pass, you cannot use the “wet area” even if you are getting treatments. I think the 7 day access is $119 for one person and $199 for 2.
Photos: Photos are not pushed as hard as on other ships. Very neat technology, sometimes spotty, but the pictures are automatically kept in an electronic folder that you can access at a Kiosk with your room card. You can get all your pictures on a CD, but it costs about $350!
Debarkation was extremely smooth and quick. We had breakfast and was able to walk off with our luggage. We were in the cab by 8:00 am.
Summary: Ship is very large and service was good at times and bad at others. Everywhere on the ship is loud. We searched hard to find a relatively quiet are to play cards and relax. Not real thrilled with the cabins. Very different from the other more traditional cruises we have taken, but we did have a good time.