We have been on 25+ cruises and this was our second with NCL. We arrived at Port of Miami about 3:30 p.m. and walked right on the ship -- no wait at all. We had an outside cabin down on deck 5 as this was the best deal we found and we were looking for deals.
The beds were every bit as hard as has been stated and I asked for a foam pad after my first night of only sleeping 4 hours due to the hardness of the bed. It helped, but out of all our cruises -- and I usually sleep soundly and wonderfully -- I did not sleep well on this cruise at all.
The cabin was adequate but color was not conducive to relaxation -- orange/red/yellow spreads, curtains and carpet. We seldom saw our cabin steward/stewardess and often our room was not made up until 2 p.m., even when leaving the "Please make up room" sign on the door. We figure we "lost" about 10 hours of our trip waiting in the hallway for our cabin to be made up.
The Windows dining room was terrible with regard to service and noise. The hostess has a real attitude and we saw her send away a woman in her 70's because she had shorts on (long shorts of course), and then we saw her seat younger women with halter tops with their navals showing and jeans on. We felt so bad for the older woman for whom it was not that easy to get around the ship and she had to go back and change. The Garden dining room was better managed and much quieter. (By noise in Windows I mean the music was much too loud, the kitchen doors were always open and there was constant slamming of trays and dishes, etc.) In Windows you sometimes had to wait about 15 minutes between courses.
We did the early bird special at Le Bistro one evening and found that to be a lovely experience (the way cruising and dining used to be).
The shows were adequate and the evening entertainment quite varied with plenty to do. The morning activities were slim, and things picked up on the ship around 2 p.m. The craft activities were very nice.
On to the excursions. Buyer beware! We went on two and cancelled our third. The first was a trip in Grenada that was to end at waterfalls where you could wade in the falls and the pool. This was not conducive to wading unless you are an Olympic swimmer. Our guide told us several people have been killed in these falls. No one went in, needless to say. We raised our complaint back at the ship and NCL gave us 20% off the total bill on that tour.
Our next excursion was Between the Pitons in St. Lucia, a 6-hour tour via catamaran, ending with swimming on the beach. Lunch was served. It would have been nice except for two problems. The catamaran was packed full of people -- I mean packed. We were on top of each other for 6 hours! The beach break was horrible. Beach had black/brown sand, no chairs, the water there was covered in gasoline scum from these little motor boats the "natives" use to come up to the catamaran and try to sell their crafts to the people onboard -- so you are in the water with these small crafts around you -- very dangerous for children. The water bottom was slimy and if you don't like that feeling on your feet it won't be enjoyable. Then the tour guide announced to the people they should not flush the catamaran toilet while stopped there as it enters directly into the swimming water -- well there were a number of other boats there, too -- and well we just wondered how many people really heard and understood that message and how much accidentally got flushed while the people were swimming. The majority of people on the tour did not go swimming, needless to say.
After the above two mishaps, we cancelled our third tour. That was enough!
The ship is lovely and has one of the best and most beautiful pool decks of any ship. The children's pool and associated amphitheater area is wonderful. The food was overall quite good, pastry was poor, breads to die for.
We would rate this cruise, overall, a 6-7 out of 10. We got what we wanted -- a cruise, time to relax and we did that.
Oh, it is best to purchase the $40/pp soda charge for the week. We did not do that and ended up spending about $20 per day on soda on the ship. So, that program is well worth it.
Best wait staff -- Normon and Giorgetta -- ask for them. They treated you like royalty.