We arrived at pier about 11:00 and checked in; then waited until our group was called to board. By 11:30 -â€" 11:45 we were on the ship. The 4 year old was hungry so we ate at the buffet because Versailles did not open until 12 or 12:30. We explored the ship for a while, went to our cabins and then went to the Biergarten for the sail away.
Overall, we thought the ship was kept very clean and staff was very friendly and went out of their way to accommodate us. Our little one was up early on the first sea day - even before Versailles opened. We walked around the ship looking for breakfast. Not being fond of buffets, we were thrilled to find the Blue Lagoon which became our breakfast spot. It was quiet, a wall of windows, good food and great staff. They served a full breakfast with bacon and eggs cooked to order as well as French toast and omelets. We also enjoyed the Blue Lagoon at lunch, too.
Our time in Roatan was a bit of a disappointment. I had booked a Victor Bodden private tour. It was not worth it. He took us to see the monkeys -â€" but they are not indigenous to Roatan. If you want to see indigenous monkeys, St. Kitts is the place for that. This was like a very tiny petting zoo. We asked about the butterfly farm and he told us it was the wrong time of year to see them. We asked about the iguanas and he told us it was completely booked up.
The beach while beautiful was over crowded and our guide could not find more than 1 chair and 1 small umbrella even though there were 4 of us. There were tons of "hawkers" trying to sell us everything. Worse, he took off and was gone for hours leaving us to wonder if he was even coming back to get us. We finally had to call the number and were told he went to get gas but would be "right back." Well, when he came back, we noticed that the tank was nearly empty. Made us think that he lied about the other things to so he could just drop us at the beach. Just not the pleasant beach day we thought we would be getting.
In Belize, we tendered ashore and found a tour company; we had been told by the Victor Bodden guide that it was not safe to just take a taxi to the zoo and we were also told that by the tour company in Belize so we went to Altun Ha with a tour company. The 4 year old liked climbing the ruins and we had a really nice day.
In Costa Maya, I had contacted Steve at the Tropicante. We had a wonderful day - we got exactly what Steve had promised - 4 loungers and 2 umbrellas. The food was excellent and reasonably priced, the beach was beautiful. Steve also directed us to Neptuno to see about fishing. We paid $75 for 4 of us to go out fishing. My husband caught a 3 ft barracuda which our guide filleted and took to Steve's to cook for us - it was absolutely amazing in taste!! The best food we had on the trip! I really can't recommend Steve highly enough.
In Cozumel, we did the Dolphin Encounter through Swim With Dolphins Cozumel and it too was great. We had to change our time from 1:00 to 3:30 so it was just our family - we all had a ball with the baby dolphin named Eddie. The photographer took 144 pictures which we purchased on a DVD for $139.
Unfortunately, during our week, both my son and then my grandson had a bout with acute gastroenteritis necessitating seeing the doctor. She was very nice but she had to quarantine the 4 year old on Thanksgiving afternoon. My son and I went up to Aqua to try to take turkey dinners back to the cabin. It presented a dilemma to the staff because to get the whole dinner was more plates that we could carry. I suggested that maybe we could make several trips but the manager had a waiter carry the tray of dishes up to our room so we could all have Thanksgiving dinner together. This kind of responsiveness on behalf of the crew was experienced several times over. My grandson loved the towel animals that the cabin steward made and the steward too was so responsive when he had to clean and disinfect our cabins (connecting) several times more than usual.
We liked eating in Versailles sitting at the back windows watching the wake but Aqua is actually a quieter dining room. The food was pretty similar in both as was the menu. The food was fine - not gourmet, but what you would expect when serving the numbers on a ship. The last night we ate in Cagney's and my family enjoyed having filet, crab cakes and lobster tails. We also had to use room service quite a bit because of the quarantines. Room service was good food but usually pretty slow delivery. Figure at least an hour to get your lunch, dinner or snack. Breakfast was delivered right on time using the card on the door.
A couple of things that I had not really picked up after reading these boards:
1. There are professional photographers who offer photo sessions every evening. The pictures are really lovely. Some families dressed up and were anticipating Christmas photos or other family photo souvenirs. We did not bring any dressy clothes -â€" in retrospect, wish we had. We did take advantage of the photographer until the last night -â€" again, wish we had done so several times.
2. Freestyle in the dining rooms is more like "country club casual" rather than cargo pants type casual.
3. The Star Bar was not discovered by us until the last night when we ate at Cagneys. If you like a quiet place to have a before dinner cocktail, this is really nice -â€" would definitely have used it more.
We did not take advantage of any of the entertainment on the ship because of the young one -â€" our family preferred to spend time together so we did not use the kid's club either. The one kid activity we did was the cupcake decorating which was packed with kids, not particularly well-organized and they didn't seem to anticipate the crowd wishing to participate.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise and would consider NCL again in the right circumstance.