We arrived at Port of Miami shortly after 11 am and quickly processed through all areas. Embarcation took less than 30 minutes and we were ready to relax for the day. Our stateroom was available shortly after 2. The room was very small but with adequate closet space. The closet rod was about 4-5 feet long and there were 3 shallow but adequate drawers. Be aware that the outlets are recessed and I was not able to plug in my Cannon camera battery pack to recharge. I took it with me to Crossings Dining Room and they charged it there for me at the reception desk.
Mattress and linens were hotel quality with high thread count linens. Our room had chocolate covered strawberries and pineapple waiting for us when we arrived in our cabin.
Freestyle dining is wonderful. We ate most of our meals in Crossings and the Palace Dining Room rather than in the Garden Cafe. There was no waiting when dining about 6:30 The food was excellent at each meal, which I did not expect. The food was average on my last 2 NCL cruises. You might be wondering why we chose NCL again. Well, we were in Florida for my daughter's wedding the this cruise was the only one leaving and returning at times that were convenient for us. The only complaint I had with the food is that it never arrived hot. Don't miss the cold soups. Every one we had was excellent. Also, don't miss the rack of lamb. The waitstaff was attentive except with free style cruising you get different servers each time so they do not know what you usually want to drink. Iced tea took forever to arrive. The desserts were mostly good except the different flavors of mousse. They had too much gelatin and not enough cream so the consistency was all wrong.
We had spring break kids on the ship but they never bothered us at all. We never had to wait for lounge chairs at the pool, or wait to use the hot tubs.
The entertainment was forgettable. The comedian was good so don't miss his show. Also, there is a guitar player named Randon who is excellent. When he is up in the Plantation Club you can get 2 for 1 drinks, watch the sunset and listen to him. If you close your eyes, he sounds like James Taylor. He appears in other areas of the ship too so he is worth seeking out. There is also a band that plays ballroom music for dancing in the Outrigger Lounge one night and they play jazz another night. We enjoyed them too. Look for the special drink deals. Otherwise drinks are expensive. Internet access is also expensive even if you purchase a package.
Great Stirrup Cay was a real surprise. I have been on private islands before and was not planning to get off the ship for this but we decided to take the tender just for the boat ride. We then decided to walk around the island and it was beautiful. The buffet was plentiful and varied. There were plenty of lounge chairs and you could sit right at water's edge. I would not recommend renting a clam shell for $30 as they were set far back from the water and when seated under one, you could barely see the water. You can usually get a regular lounge and place it under a palm tree if you want shade. The beach is very shallow and quite safe even for kids. If you travel with a lightweight umbrella you can make your own shade by placing the umbrella in the chair. There were lots of picnic tables in the shade. If you venture to a different area of the island , there were some beautiful spots.
We did not do any of the excursions as I have been to these islands before so I cannot comment on them.
All in all, the cruise was excellent in all ways. Maybe this experience was better than my last two because the ship was one of their smaller ones or maybe they realized that there is so much competition, that they had to make improvements. Whatever the reason, we had a really, really good time. I have been on several cruises before this one. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about good food and wine and I was not disappointed.