I did a lot of research on cruise lines, ports, excursions, reviews (including this site) articles/ads in my travel magazines. My mid 20's daughter and I wanted to have a simple and fairly short cruise for the first time to get familiar with experience. Our 1st goal was to leave out of Florida and not have Mexico anywhere in our plans due to ongoing violence. We have traveled frequently to include Costa Rica and Europe and South America so we're not skittish but cautious. I booked in October timeframe directly through NCL and everything went smoothly. The airfare I booked separate using frequent flyer miles to Miami. I also didn't feel the extra expense for a balcony room was worth it since weren't planning on being in room much. So we booked the lowest oceanview available which was on 5th deck forward. It at least had a porthole and we were pleasantly surprised to see how big the porthole is that we both could of fit through it. I also felt it was wise to purchase travel insurance due to New England's unpredictable weather and transfers through NCL.
A rep. met us shortly after our plane landed at 12:30 at the baggage claim. We then took a short ride in a van to port. There we went to register and get our photo ID which was also tied to a credit card to charge any drinks, dining or extra items. The check-in process went smoothly and took about 30 minutes. Once we able to board the ship, we went straight to dining room on 11th deck that was serving lunch.
We were very pleased with our room. The closet had plenty of hangers and there were also drawers under the safe. We used the couch for 3rd person for our luggage and the twin beds with reading lamps and some shelves worked out fine for us. The bathroom was small yes but still workable with shelving on both sides for our personal items.
Overall we liked the ship was clean, updated in 2007, medium size and never crowded, plenty of deck chairs on multilevels. We purposely booked during a time when it wouldn't be overrun with kids. There were a few young children but not many and we were glad for that. They don't have a strong children program/area on this ship anyway. There were 2 clean pools and several hot tubs. Being New Englanders we were frequently in the pools. The stage area on Deck 11 always had music/contests going on.
The food was good. You could eat at one of the many buffets or do a sit down meal for breakfast or dinner in one of the dining rooms. We ate mostly up on the 11th deck which had great views. We also ate dinner in each of the dining rooms 2 of the nights. We didn't feel the need to pay 'extra' for specialty dining since you get order dinner from 1 of 2 main dining rooms off a menu. The buffets were plentiful except for the fact that they didn't offer any tofu/soy/veggie burger options for my vegetarian (not vegan) daughter. There was always indian food but she doesn't like spicy or curry. This was only complain about food. Otherwise one of reasons we picked NCL was for Freestyle dining.
The ports were beautiful. In Grand Bahamas we booked an enjoyable forest/ocean horseback ride and in Nassua Sea Scooter snorkeling which was fun. Being a frequent snorkeler I brought my own equipment but it was my daughters first time. On the private island we just hung out at beach, ate from a great buffet and snorkeled. It was very relaxing.
The entertainment was varied from dancing, comedy, theater to piano and sport bar. We love to dance to live/DJ so did some of that and also took in a Broadway themed show. The staff was very friendly and always greeted you. They were willing to go the extra mile for anything that was needed.
I would cruise again with NCl and probably on longer cruise next time.