This was the first cruise my wife and I ever went on. We are now cruise people.
I have to say that NCL did a great job from the first moment we got to the port to the time we got off.
Even thought they say you have to wait until noon to get on ship, we got to the port at 11:30. (We stayed at La Quinta in Miami the night before because they have a free shuttle from the hotel to the port, plus they picked us up from the airport). The boarded process was smooth as can be. You have to fill out a small health questionnaire (4 questions) and it took about 5 minutes for them to process our paperwork, take our picture and give us our key cards. We stepped on the ship at 12:01 and there were already lots of people on board. We immediately went up to the 11th floor for lunch in the Outdoor Cafe. The food was excellent and we returned to the Outdoor Cafe for a quick bite almost every day. We were able to get into our room at 2:00 and our luggage was already there.
We loved the idea of the freestyle cruise that you could eat in the main restaurants at any time.
We planned on eating at some of the specialty restaurants but after reviewing the menu's of the main dining rooms, we were happy to eat there. The first night we ate in the Crossings. They gave us a table for two in the very back and we watched the sunset from our window as the sun set behind the skyline of Miami, I would recommend that for the first evening.
We read that they want "resort casual" for the main dining rooms so we packed some nicer clothes for dinner. However there people in all sorts of clothing from suits to shorts. I don't think they will turn anyone away, unless you are in bathing suits.
The first port of call was Freeport. We wanted to go to Junkanoo Beach club but had trouble finding a cab driver that would take us there. It seems that the only place they want to take you is Lucaya market, you have to catch another cab from there if you want to go someplace else. The cab ride was $5 per person and we decided to walk over to the beach at the Radisson, which was empty. We decided to rent jet ski's for $60 for 1/2 hour. The ocean was really choppy since a storm was moving in and we had just enough time to finish our 1/2 hour before it started to pour. Since we were already soaked it was no big deal. We walked back to Lucaya marketplace and caught another cab back to the port.
The first nights entertainment was a comedian. He was funny and the crowd was not large so there is no need to rush to get to any of the shows.
The second day was at Nassau. Once again we had trouble finding a cab driver that wanted to take us to beach we wanted to go to. We wanted to go to Cable Beach NOT Paradise Island. They wanted to charge us $21 each way. We found the best way to get there was to walk into town about 3 blocks and caught the #10 bus. We were the only tourists on the bus but the driver was great. He asked us where we wanted to go. We just said a nice beach. He suggested the Wyndham Cable Beach. The trip cost us 1.25 per person. We walked through the lobby out to the beach. I saw other people with wrist bands on so I am not sure if were were suppose to pay for the rights for the beach but we stayed for about 3 hours before heading back. We caught another bus at the foot of the driveway and headed back to the port. Great day at the beach.
Second nights entertainment was a Broadway review. It was also good, not fantastic but it was entertaining.
The third day was at the private island. The line off the ship was very long but moved quickly. It took about 30 minutes for get on the tender boat. The beach is beautiful but crowded. The buffet was OK.
Overall the cruise was really relaxing. This was the first time away without the kids.
If you drink, the alcohol can get very expensive. Each beer is $5 and each mixed drink is 8.50, plus a 15% tip. We only had two drinks and a bucket of 6 beers at it cost us over $60.
Our room steward was fantastic. The first time we came out of our room he already knew our name. I asked him for extra towels and within 5 minutes we had them in our room. The staff was super nice and worked really hard to make our vacation enjoyable.