We flew into Ft Lauderdale a day a head of time and stayed at the Fairfield Inn by the airport. We located John's Car Service (firstname.lastname@example.org) to take us from the hotel to the cruise port and then back to the airport at the end of the cruise. We have to admit we were a little concerned because we had never used this service before but we were really surprised at the service we received. He was at the hotel when promised and got us right to the terminal and told us exactly where to go. He even pointed out sites along the way making the ride more enjoyable. A great way to transfer for only $75 each way.
Embarkation went really smooth and we were one of the first to board. The ship use to be the Pride of Aloha and is decorated in the Hawaiian theme. This ship should still be in the Hawaiian island because it has the feel of the island with the decor. However, the ship is old and you can really see that when you walk around and definitely when it is sailing. This ship is really small and within the first hour we knew exactly where everything was located.
We had a balcony stateroom midship which was small but big enough for the two of us for a short cruise. We do not think we would have been able to fit clothes or a third person into the stateroom for a longer cruise.
The buffet was probably one of the worst on any of the NCL ships that we have sailed. It was small with very limited selections at any meal. One morning I wanted an omelet and no one was able to make it for me. Another day the waffle maker wouldn't even turn on. We really like crispy french fries and when we requested them the staff acted like we were bothering them. Needless to say we never were able to get crispy fries once on the cruise.
We only ate at the Palace Dining Room and while the food was alright most night it was nothing to write home about either. We only had one wait staff during our cruise that seemed to really enjoy his job. He was funny and made dining a wonderful experience. Most of the staff was just there and did not want to do anything more than they really had to do. Each evening their was a good selection of choices so we never had to go to the standard items on the menu. This was a pleasant surprise over our last sailing.
The one thing that did surprise us was that the dining room never asked us if we wanted to share a table at dinner. One night they sat 4 couples each at their own table for 4 and even sat a senior gentlemen at a table for 4 by himself. We thought that NCL sat people together unless they requested to eat alone. This was the first time we sailed without anyone else and thought we would get the opportunity to sit with others but we guess that simply is not done on NCL.
The ports of call were less than expected. We were really surprised that Nassau and Grand Bahama Island did not have much to do on them. In Nassau we did go to the Junakaroo museum which was a lot of fun and educational at the same time. Though we did have to admit it is one of those places that you only go to once. We figure if we ever go back we might go see Atlantis, wonder around town a little but mostly stay aboard the ship.
Great Stirrup Bay is NCL's private island and we were expecting so much more than what we got. They brought tender boats but would not take the first boat across until they could fill the boat to over 3/4 full or about 350 people. This resulted in the group that went for the first tender to stand on the stairs for over 20 minutes and then sit on the boat for another 30 minutes before they finally took us over to the island. We managed to get chairs under a tree so we did not have to rent anything. However, we did realize that they don't bother cleaning up after the previous ship leaves the island. There was cigarette buts, bottle caps, and trash throughout the chair area. We booked the Eco Adventure Tour and was surprised that it was around Royal Caribbean's private island which looked so much nicer than the one we were on. Lunch was a hamburger (not cooked completely) or chicken with a few salads and basically only fruit for desert. We opted to return to the ship shortly after we had lunch.
The entertainment on the ship went from fair to non-existent. The shows in the evening we fair. We did enjoy the comedian but his show was exactly the same for the two shows. We had seen him before of the Disney Magic and was surprised to find him on an NCL ship. The other shows were simply average shows that needed a lot more work to make them a quality show. We really wish NCL would eliminate the fountain part of the final show it is in bad taste for a cruise line plus all the germs them are spreading between crew members. We were surprised that the officers were not introduced at any of the shows. We have never been on a cruise that the captain was not introduced. During the day and late evening we were surprised to find the lack of music around the ship unless piped in music was what you were looking for.
This was a short cruise to see the Bahamas and we did not expect much more than that. And that was exactly what we received. We basically got what we paid for but all in all we managed to get away for a few days and relax.