Our family of seven cruised during our spring bnreak vacation - and this may have been our favorite NCL cruise. I was a bit apprehensive about how we would fair all together in our two inside cabins, but all members of our group had a great time. Our ages span from 8 years old to 65 years young and we had a blast together, but plenty of time on our own to relax and unwind. This was our first time to the Mexican Riviera, and everyone's thrid or fourth time on NCL. We enjoy the casualness of the freestyle cruise, especially with four kids in tow. Some may find that a negative, but we like the flexibility.
We enjoyed both of the ports of call - in fact Cabo exceeded our expectations! In Cabo, we hired a water taxi for a tour of the beautiful rock formations, finisterra, seals, etc., then headed to Mendano Beach for a day in the sun. We found a great beach front hotel (Casa Bonito, I think) where we secured chairs, used the pool, and had the requisite bucket of beer. Great day, except for some sun burn!
Our second day in Cabo, our group split. My husband hiked from the tender terminal over to the Pacific side of the rocks and then hiked/climbed to Divorce/Lovers Beach. He loved it, but would not recommend for kids. My mom and I and some of the kids checked out the shops around the tender terminals and had soem great authentic Mexican food.
In Puerto Vallarta, I had researched a resort that offered day passes and we taxied over from the cruise dock and spent a very relaxing day. The resort was the Westin and was close to the cruise port - $3/pp taxi ride. We had lunch under the palm trees, the kids played at the beach, and I loved the fabulous pool. One of our sons asked if we could return to this resort next year for spring break!
This cruise included 3 days at sea, and these are always my personal favorites. I am perfectly happy to find a lounger on the promenade deck and read or listen to music and watch the sea. I do not need constant entertainment or loud music or drinking to be happy. In fact, I was always able to find a chair on the shuffleboard side and played some games with the kids. Our kids made friends and joined in some of the kids club activites, ate at the Blue Lagoon about 3 times a day, and swam in the pool. The only negative was the two days of sailing after PV it was cool (one day was a high of 61), so the swimming was less popular. Also, I was very glad I had a jacket with me from our flight from Baltimore - I wore it for three days at sea.
The food was quite similiar to our past NCL cruises - many of the menu items were repeated and I was perfectly fine with that. Due to budget constraints and the size of our group, we ate all our meals in the main dining room, with a few breakfasts at the buffet. A couple of times the service was a bit slow, but on the other hand the staff was quite considerate of certain persons in our group (my husband!) joining us late, but making sure his food was served along with ours. Our kids have come to like certain menu items and always got excited when a past favorite was on the menu.
One surprise hit was the Teen Club. I have a 13 year old son who can be moody and untalkative and I was a bit concerned that he would mope around for the week. He checked out the Teen Club the first night and met a nice group of kids. They had activites that appealed to my son every night (scavengar hunts, parties, games, group excursions to some of the shows, etc.) My son had a blast, made friends, and was quite pleasant all week!
One surprise disappointment was the entertainment. The Mod Musical was horrible - we walked out! It is rated PG-13, and I am not particuraly strict about those kind of things, but the open depiction of drug use and talk of group sex really turned me off. Not family friendly, not funny, and not even musically entertaining! Second City was only OK. Angels and Elements are more to our liking and all our group enjoyed these shows. My oldest son even went to Angels for both shows!
All in all, a great cruise. We choose NCL for the family friendly atmosphere and price and have never been disappointed with our experience. If I were on a higher-priced cruise line, my expectations might be different, but for what we paid, we had a wonderful time.