We embarked from the port of Miami. Check in was quick and painless, and in less than 20 minutes we went from outside the building before customs to eating our lunch on the ship!
During our week at sea, we ate at all of the included restaurants. We did not pay the extra money for the specialty dining except for Cirque Dreams - HIGHLY recommended! Great show, food was wonderful! We got $20 seats and were sat at the top tier of the tent, eye to eye with all of the high flying performers! Really cool!
The food was fairly good, not fabulous. The breakfast was average but lots of variety. Lunches were good, dinners were by far the best tasting and well presented. Many food choices throughout the multiple dining areas. We both agreed that we enjoyed our meals more on the smaller ships... but smaller ship = more attention to detail and presentation so it is understandable.
The pool decks, slides and hot tubs were awesome! The slides were a blast (lines were never too awful long) and the band was always playing! Great environment! Made you constantly want a tropical drink in your hand ( we refrained until the islands to get our fix, a little cheaper). I will say that chair hogs were a MAJOR problem!!!! NCL should enforce the no chair reserving policy... perhaps add some lockers?? It may take away from people dropping their stuff and leaving. We did find a few free areas for laying in the sun. Not many people took advantage of the Quiet Deck on Deck 18 (elevator near the outside dining area on the pool deck) until the end of the week. We nearly always found a chair up there. Also, the sports complex has lounge chairs as well! No one seems to know about these! Spice H2O was pretty much always busy and no chairs unless you got out there before all the seriously early risers.
The shows were AMAZING~! We saw Blue Man twice they were so good! Second City was super funny and always a different show, same with Howl at the Moon. We say the comedian/magician... not really for kids. He had some pretty vulgar jokes and not great magic. But, he was very funny. As I mentioned before, Cirque Dreams was wonderful! Book early, they sell out nearly every night! You can make reservations from your interactive TV screen which was really convenient! You can also book spa sessions, view your onboard account and get info on shore excursions through the TV! really cool!
We had an inside room on this cruise. The room was surprisingly spacious and the closet was HUGE!! Beds were super comfortable and I slept well every night :) The toilet and shower were separate from each other which was nice as well. This set up gave more room for each "activity" haha. We had our room steward take all of the stuff in our fridge out and take it away so we could use the fridge for our waters, gatorade and other drinks. It was really nice of them to do that and all we had to do was ask! You are allowed to bring on waters or soda with you. Make sure you have your room info/tags on them like you would for your luggage. You can actually just set it with your luggage with the porters and it will make it to your cabin. We had our laundry sent out on Wednesday, when they do a bag sale for your laundry. Anything you can fit in the bag, they will wash for a flat $25. Totally necessary because we forgot how many clothes/swim suits/underwear we go through in a day, especially port days! They brought our clothes back the next afternoon and our room steward even hung them up for us! So nice!
Although we did get to do a lot of activities, there were a lot of things we didn't get to do!! There was so much to do and see!! Constant entertainment and activities~ if you are bored on this cruise, it's your own fault!
The ports were beautiful and getting on and off at each port was very quick and easy! No problems or hold ups! We even came back on to eat our lunch every port day to save some cash! Turned out to be a really cost effective option! No to mention we were able to get in and out of the buffets quickly as everyone else was on land!
overall, the ship was incredible and really high class entertainment! We had a great time~
I will say, the only things I wish they would improve on would be
a) the food - could be better but as I said before, bigger ship, a little less quality for the masses I suppose.
b) the pool deck- finding a new way to stop chair hogging would have made this an A+ cruise... but it was a bit frustrating walking around trying to find chairs each morning.
c) elevator --- big pain! If you can walk the decks, I would recommend it! Most times, they are fairly quick moving and sometimes even empty. But if there was a big event or show going on at a certain deck, getting an elevator was nearly impossible... the worst being on disembarkation on the last day. Everyone was either going to eat or getting off the ship and no where in between. The elevators were jam packed. But this is really the only time we had a big problem with them.
I don't know that I would go on this ship again because of how big it was and how many people were on it! I do enjoy a smaller cruise ship just for the added quality and small details (ice carvings, fruit carvings, decor, better food) but it was a once in a lifetime experience for sure! Great time, great staff! We love NCL!!