Prior to taking this cruise, we had studied the CC board intensely. One common theme we found was that the food and service were sub-par. WERE THEY ON THE SAME SHIP WE WERE? Embarkation was a bit of a mess due to the Dawn returning to New York 3 hours late. OK, that happens. The weather had been pretty bad the past week up here. But one that was over and they started calling passengers by class, things went smoothly. (One issue though: NYC is VERY serious about scanning baggage. We thought we could carry on all of our bags, but were forbidden to do so. One of the NCL employees got us a supervisor that explained our bags were too big to fit in the X-Ray machines. OK, I can understand that. So we checked our bags and went back to wait until we were called.)
Once we got on board, we went to the Garden Cafe to eat and wait for our rooms to be ready. They were actually ready earlier than they said. We decided to book a balcony suite, the lower end of the food chain. All I can say was that the room was remarkable. On our last cruise (NCL Majesty 8/05), we book an oceanview cabin. It looked like a cabin on a ship, and we had to climb all over each other just to get in and out of bed. The upgrade was well worth it. The walls were wood-paneled, the room was big enough to move around in and the bathroom had an actual tub with a shower. The sink area was a nice size, all things considered. The toilet was in a little space with a sliding door for some privacy. The beds were pushed together to make a big one (Queen-szie I think!) And there was a sitting area with a couch that folded out to a double bed. There was also a table and two chairs. This was separated by a very nice, very heavy room-darkening curtain. Next, there was a sliding glass door leading to a nice-sized balcony with two recliners. It was a wonderful room all around.
We tend to keep to ourselves a lot, so the fact that the Oasis pool was always overcrowded and loud didn't mean much to us. Everybody there seemed to having a good time, though. Just not our cup of sake'. We had a very lucky break in the position of our cabin. We were the last cabin on the right side of the ship. We were five feet away from the Spa. They had the most incredible heated Lap Pool along with a HydroTherapy Spa and a regular hot tub. We started every morning in the Hydro Spa and the Pool. What a way to start your day! Take note, they have started charging for the use of this Spa it is $15 per day or $60 per cruise. Well worth it from our perspective. They also has a very nice workout room that is free to use. The food we found to be very good. The Garden Cafe is typical steam-table cafeteria food. Except it was a bit better quality. They always had a Deli Counter and a Vegetarian line. The all night restaurant, The Blue Lagoon, was much better than what we had on the Majesty. The Majesty was an open deck grill with hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. This place had class! The Blue Lagoon had Shepherd's Pie, Singapore fried noodles, Cantonese fried rice, fish and chips, along with the usual fare of hamburgers and hot dogs. Great food, especially after a night of drinking!
The three main dining rooms had very nice decor, especially the Venetian Room. I heard many complaints from people that the menu was always the same in all three restaurants. Duh! These are the ship dining rooms. The could have had plastic walls and fancy names like DINING ROOM 1, etc... I give NCL points for trying to make your experience different in any way they can. The food at the three main dining rooms (Venetian Room, Aqua and Impressions), was all very good. And the service was excellent.
The specialty restaurants were also excellent. Salsa had some of the best Tex-Mex I've eaten. The Tapas selection was great! Cagney's Steak House was wonderful, and worth the extra charge (so I believe). The Bamboo restaurant had a very good Sushi Bar, with all you can eat rolls for $10/person, along with regular sushi at ala carte pricing. We are sushi-lovers and did not go for any other asian cuisine there. Maybe next trip! Le Bistro was a fabulous encounter. There are four masterpieces hanging in the restaurant, including one Van Gogh. The food was marvelous and the service was impeccable.
The bars on the ship had a different motif. All were great. One thing I would like to mention: They did not push drinks like they did on our last cruise. They were around when you needed one, but were always polite and never pushy. One of our favorites is Gatsby's, with a 1930's motif. We had a wonderful time almost every night there. The have an incredible entertainer named Dan Hodge. He is a true showman. If you go see him, tell him Dan send his regards! For those of you who enjoy a good cigar, the Havana club is right there. They have some great cougars, but the don't really stock what they say is on the wall. Just go to the humidor and pick a nice one! The casino was done very well, lots of slots and Black Jack tables (my game), also 3 Card Poker, Baccarat and the increasingly popular Texas Hold 'Em. Someone I met on the cruise won $1400 there! The time on Bermuda was too short! Our last cruise had us docked at St. George for 3 1/2 days. Eight hours wasn't enough. We took the ferry over to Hamilton and walked around. We found this fabulous restaurant in Hamilton called the New Captains table. It had the best fish I have every eaten, no joke! Give them a try when you go there. You won't regret it!
The snorkeling and Beach Party at Great Stirrup Cay was nice. It was just too hot for us! We went early and were back on the boat by Noon. It was nice to have the boat to ourselves. One thing to beware of: DON'T"T LEAVE YOUR FOOD UNATTENDED! If you walk away for even one minute, there will be a flock of birds descending on your food like locust. We say it happen twice. Two people left their food to get beers, and 200 birds descended! Where is Tippi Hedron when you need her! The other time, the people sitting in front of us at the beach left to go swimming, and about 50 birds cleaned their leftovers!
The only thing I didn't care for was the trip to Nassau. It got there at 8PM and we had to leave at Noon the next day. On top of that, many of the stores that were going to stay open past 8PM did not. Mostly the T-shirt joints and the jewelry store. Despite the supposed discounts, I think a lot of the prices were not reasonable at all. Hello Kitty earrings were $600! Granted they were platinum and diamond, but still...
We had an excellent time overall I don't understand all of the complaining. One guy was complaining about EVERYTHING! Come to find out, someone else chose the trip and also paid for it. Where is the gratitude? We had a wonderful time. The food was great, the service was excellent. We could not have asked for a better vacation!