About us: Husband and Wife - early 50's taking our 3rd cruise, first on NCL and first time in a suite - we had an SF Penthouse Aft suite on the 10th floor. Previous cruises were on RCL (ocean view stateroom) and CCL (aft balcony cabin). We originally booked this cruise a year ago in a mini suite. In April a Penthouse Suite became available to we decided to upgrade ourselves. It was about $1200 more to do so, and in the grand scheme of things, it was worth it and afterall you only live once!
Embarkation: We arrived by car service to the NY pier at about 11:30am. The porters were waiting and our luggage was taken right away and we were able to walk right into the terminal. Once inside, we were shown the line to wait on for VIP check in. This was painless, very quick and absolutely awesome. There were a few hundred people on line already waiting to check in - so this suite perk alone was well worth it!!! We were then brought into the VIP waiting area where there was cold/hot beverages, cookies and small sandwiches to pick on while waiting to board. After about 30 minutes the concierge, Ryan Rabe introduced himself to the group and said that he would be taking us on board to enjoy lunch in Cagney's in about 15 minutes. We were not able to drop off our carry-on luggage in the room prior - so we had to lug it with us. We did not yet meet our butler and that was the last time we saw the concierge except for sitting in Cagney's on his lap top during breakfast hours.
Lunch at Cagney's was great and it is available to only Suite guests for both lunch and breakfast thru-out the cruise. We ordered the French dip w/fries (delish) and the Shrimp/Scallop dish (not so delish). By the time we finished our meals, our suite was ready - just about 2:00pm. (On a side note, if it wasn't for Cruise Critic, we would have never known about this daily suite perk).
Suite Impression: Although it was great to be a Suite guest, I was a little disappointed with the size of the penthouse cabin. Don't get me wrong as it was very nice for 2 people - I just thought it would be a bit bigger than it was. The bed was more like a king size than a queen size in my opinion and it was comfortable for the most part. There was a nice flat screen TV on the wall in front of the bed, but below it was an area that was not cleaned...yet.
We were in our room for about 15 minutes when our Butler; Yuremar, came in to introduce himself. He was there to remove the flower arrangement and the fruit bowl that was left by the previous PAX. He said he would be delivering a fresh arrangement as well as fresh fruit shortly and then told us to let him know if he can do anything for us. Just my 2 cents here...as I think a little time showing people around the suite would have been special (especially if this is your first time in a suite). For example, show us how to operate the coffee/espresso machine - we figured it out eventually though. Also tell us why we have a cordless phone on the vanity area (to use thru out the ship to reach either the butler or the concierge if needed). Yes, small details but again - if I didn't read it on Cruise Critic I wouldn't have known. I am pretty sure he is new - that is the impression he gave us. He did bring up the fact that he is always working and only gets off the ship when he can to call his son. I really don't think we needed to know that info. We work hard too all year long, and save so that we can have a nice vacation. Other than that, he was pleasant.
Well back to the small details of the suite........We had a large bottle of water and champagne waiting for us in the ice bucket. We did exchange (thru the butler) the champagne for a bottle of their house red wine (Tisdale). We had a booklet listing all the DVD's that we could request during the week. There were no CD's though - but we did bring a few of our own. There was no pillow menu as stated in the suite perks listing also. There was a small clock on the bedside table, but we brought our own digital clock and am so glad we did (another recommendation from a Cruise Critic Member..thank you!!). The vanity area is equipped with a small chair and there was a blow dryer and a lighted make-up mirror (very dim). There was also Kleenex and a jar filled with cotton balls and Q-tips. The bathroom area is divided into 3 spaces (tub-shower combo/sink/toilet). There are elemis toiletries included; shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap. There was also a loofah mitt and bath salts in the tub area. Plenty of storage thru-out the cabin and nice closet space that opens on both sides as well. Also included were two safes for your valuables; two pairs of slippers and two thick terry cloth robes.
Our luggage arrived to our cabin right after sail-away - and was brought into our suite instead of being left outside the door - I liked that!
Food: We both enjoyed pretty much every meal we had. We ate in Azura (dinner), Tsars (lunch and dinner) (The Portobello feta/basil stuffed mushroom and the Gnocchi served with a Pumpkin Sage sauce were awesome!), the Grand Buffet (pizza), The Great Outdoors (late breakfast), Mama's, Le Bistro (dinner) and Cagney's (breakfast, lunch and dinner), Blue Lagoon (breakfast). Service in the MDR's was extraordinary as well as most of the fee added restaurants. The only one that didn't thrill us was Mama's. The pizza was the same as the kind offered in the Grand Cafe and the Pasta Carbonara was better in the MDR - go figure. Mama's charges $10 per person also.
• Sydney, NS: A quaint small town with that has a tiny main street area to shop. A few museums along the way too. Had a delicious lunch in the Governor's Pub & Eatery which is right across from the port. Make sure to order one of their daily specials.
• Halifax, NS: Lots to do here - on foot or tour wise. We did the Harbor Hopper which was nice. Had lunch at Shayners on the boardwalk - it was okay - nothing special.
• St. Johns, NB: is also an old quaint city with lots to see but mostly up steep hills. We had lunch on the boardwalk - again nothing special.
• Portland, ME: Lots of things to see and lots of shopping available. Great seafood available too. We ended up in a place called Gritty's - they serve regular pub fare.
We didn't really seek out the late night entertainment but I did hear that the Fire and Ice show was excellent. We did however spend time in the casino and made daily donations there.
We chose to wait until 10:00am to leave and found our luggage without any issues. We were through customs in no time and were out by the curb waiting for our ride by 10:10am. Very easy.
Overall we had a wonderful cruise experience. We wished we were hungrier more often so that we could enjoy all the great food offered but we never were!! We were still full from the last meal we had! Our butler did deliver a plate of 5 small appetizers each afternoon - cheese & crackers, small chocolates, canapE's and chocolate covered strawberries. We told him we really enjoyed the strawberries, but never did see them again. I had read that if you shared that kind of information with the butler, that they would make sure you received what you liked again. Oh well. Not a deal breaker.
The suite experience was very nice and believe it or not - what stood out most to us was the VIP embarkation. Would we cruise in a suite again? I am pretty sure we would. Would we cruise with NCL again? I am also pretty sure we would.
And last but not least - a BIG thank you to all Cruise Critic members for all of your tips, advice, knowledge, etc. If it wasn't for all the threads on those boards, I would never had known what to expect nor obtained answers to all my questions I had pre-cruise. Again, thank you very much!!
Happy Sailings Everyone!