We travelled to the port of Miami from Boca Raton with another couple via a local Limo service. The trip to and into the Port was smooth and we were dropped off at Terminal B approximately 1145 am. The waiting area and lines for reaching the embarkation desk was pleasant and we were never made to feel closed in or crowded. The process took us about 1/2 hour and we were through our 1st photo opp and on board. We proceeded to the Spice H2O adult area on deck 14 where we had planned to meet the rest of our group. This area did not get so crowded as the other pool and deck areas and we were all able to sit down and enjoy welcome aboard drinks and sample the buffet set up at Spice H20. An announcement that our staterooms were ready came over the loudspeaker at approximately 130, at which time we proceeded to our room to check it out. Helpful hint: There is a card in the bin on the wall explaining all the hidden storage areas that we wish we had found before day 3. Our cabin was starboard and had a view of the port and surrounding downtown Miami. Though not the largest balcony cabin we've had, it was roomy enough, though the wavy design of the cabin walls made for narrow passage at a couple of spots. The layout of the cabin is a little different than previous experiences on other cruiselines, but grew on us as time went by. The balcony itself was very spacious, and with the assistance of our room steward became even more so when we opened the panel and doubled our balcony space by sharing with our neighbors ( coincidentally our best friends ).
Rather than continuing a saga of day by day, event by event posting, I'll try to hit the highlights going forward. Our 1st night was a free night as far as entertainment and dining so we all choose to dine in the Manhatten room, probably the low point of our week. Our group of 9 apparently presented too much challenge for the staff and we ended up waiting over an hour and 15 minutes to be seated, only to be seated in somewhat cramped quarters. The food itself for some was good, for others particularly those who had the lobster were quite dissappointed. On the good side this was really the only bad experience dining wise for the entire week. The Main buffet, O'Sheehans 24 hour Irish Pub, and Tastes were all free dining experiences that always satisfied us. The Bowling lanes at O'Sheehans and Bliss provided some comical entertainment for us all. During the course of the week we also took in the upgrade dining in Cagneys Steakhouse and La Cucina Italian Restaurant. The food at both was outstanding though the service at Cagneys could have been improved.
Now for the ships entertainment, which we have to admit is unparalleled at sea. We tried to get to every show, and made our reservations for those that we could 45 days before sailing. Blue Man Group is everything you've ever heard about them and more, absolutely spectacular show. The Cirque Dreams show and dinner at the Speigal Tent was also utterly amazing and overrode the fact that the dinner part was average. We highly recommend the premium seating fee as we literally 5 ft from the center stage. We also took in the Legends Concert (outstanding), the Murder Mystery Luncheon (entertaining), and 2nd City Comedy troop ( We went to the adult 11 pm show and enjoyed it very much)
We also spent ample time in various lounges the most enjoyable of which were the Atrium bar with it's spectacular big screen and live entertainment by the Apollo Duo who were very good. We discovered Fat Cats Blues Bar too late in the week or probably would have ended up there every night. The house band was amazing, and the entertainers from various shows on the ship would hang out at the club and do impromptu sessions with the band.
The ship itself is relatively easy to navigate once you come to grips with elevators only being at the stern and bow. It is elegantly appointed and and as beautiful a ship as we have had the opportunity to cruise on. Shopping areas are adequate and like any cruise ship, you'll always find one sale or another going on. The casino is spacious and offers the normal games you will find on the high seas. The spa and fitness area is something to behold. We used the gym as much as possible and though we didn't partake of the spa services, friends of ours did and raved about the service and facilities.
We visited St Thomas, St Maarten and Nassau during this trip, all ports we've previously been to and enjoy. We took only one excursion, a beach and shopping trip to Magens Bay which we wouldn't really recommend. Our journey concluded on the 17th, and debarking and customs was an absolute breeze ! Well done NCL!!