First of all, this was our fifth cruise, all on NCL. I will have to say this; things have changed a lot on this line as I’m sure it is has all the others. Many things that were once free are now charged.
Embarkation went really smooth and we were one of the first to board. We arrived at MIA at ten, grabbed a cab and checked in around eleven. Being Latitudes members we were in the first boarding group. Overall, the easiest we’ve ever had for a cruise. We went to lunch in the Palace Dining Room, the club sandwich is great, asked for French fries instead of chips, and then went to explore a little. The rooms were ready at two p.m.
The buffet was typical for a cruise ship. We ate there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner on the last night. It was small with very limited selections at any meal. Not the best buffet we’ve seen. The best kept secret is the Outdoor Café deck eleven aft. A smaller buffet but has the best breakfast available, hot made to order omelets and waffles. In fact, breakfast was by far the best meals we had.
Since we like the sit down dining without the hassles of the buffets, we ate at both dining rooms and preferred the Palace Dining Room. While the selections were good, most of the time we ate the “anytime selections” of chicken or steak.
Cabin was usual size for NCL ships. Our stewards were nice and did a great job, got one towel animal. Beds were fairly hard, used the big square pillow under the mattress to raise the head like my adjustable bed at home for easier sleeping.
The ports of call were okay. The first port, Freeport was sunny but was extremely cold, wind chill I expect somewhere in the forties. Took a quick trip to the straw market then back on board. Spent the rest of the day sitting out in the sun on our balcony, out of the wind. We did not go to GSC, the private island, tenders were slow, deciding to remain on board and relax. We again sat in the sun on our balcony and watched the tender boats going and coming.
Nassau was a lot warmer, we found a local guide, “Dan the Man” took us on a complete narrated city tour, Fort Fincastle, and the Queens Staircase (25 minutes to look and shop) then to Atlantis (45 minutes to look around) to see the Aquarium, no charge for the aquarium, casino, or shops. Total cost was 28 dollars per person; about half of what the ship would have charged.
The entertainment on the ship okay as well. We did enjoy the comedian and the Broadway show was good, just a little loud. We didn’t do any of the other entertainment.
Leaving the ship was the easiest we’ve had. We had room service breakfast at 6:30, hand carried our bags off the ship at 7:30, absolutely no problems with customs, first in line to get a cab and through airport security by 8:30. I used the internet café to print of boarding passes the night before, cost was around $11.50. Well worth the price.
With the exception of the not so good weather, I would say, for the price, this was a good short cruise, not our best, Alaska inside passage would be that, but still better than one I can remember. It is a great cruise for first timers, or for a short weekend or weekday cruise. Just remember, overly high expectations can lead to disappointments. Go with an open mind and have a great cruise.