On the advice of our travel agent, we broke a 15 year history of annual cruises on Carnival to Norwegian, and it was worth it!
Yes, it was Spring Break, but the students on our ship were pleasant, well-behaved and a fun group to be with.
We were in an aft balcony suite, with our children and other family in the three aft balcony staterooms next to us. My nine-year-old granddaughter "Its so little." But the aft balcony staterooms were a good size, she was just used to mini-suites on Carnival. She also advised me "You have a freakin doorbell!" which she promptly rang about five times a day.
I loved the suite life, even though we didn't take a lot of advantage of it. Super super easy boarding, separate boarding area with coffee and pastries, then personally escorted onto the ship, and the same with disembarcation, the concierge escorted us to the head of the line for shore adventures, little afternoon snacks every day, a stateroom just a little bigger than a mini-suite on Carnival, very attentive cabin attendant, and daily check-ins by the butler. Plenty of storage, even got my husband to put away his clothes. And it was like the perfect location- over us was the Spa- nice and quiet, below us were other cabins, and being at the aft of the ship, we didn't have tons of people walking past our door talking at 7am and 11pm.
Anytime dining was wonderful, and I strongly recommend the Ultimate Dining Package, just for the unique dining adventures and the Ultimate Beverage Package, because 4 drinks a day of anything and you've paid for it. Le Bistro was my family's absolute favorite for dinner (my son loves escargot), but Cagney's was a close second with great steaks. Moderno was the Brazilian steakhouse, and it is worth a visit just for the unique experience. Staff members wander through the dining room with skewers of freshly grilled, baked or broiled meats. They stop at your table and you select what you want---and it keeps coming until you turn your server card from green to red. Even dinner in the Aqua Dining Room was good. I missed the midnight buffets from Carnival, and my husband missed the 24-hour pizza kitchen, but I only gained 2 pounds on this trip.
The rest of the ship was a typical cruise ship. nothing particularly outstanding, but clean, well maintained, standard ship-board activities- I loved the paella cook-off on the deck between the Head Chef and the Head of Kitchen Services. It was Spring Break, so a little difficult to get into the pool, but the kids were fun to watch. Almost all the kids had the Ultimate Beverage Package, and they used it! The one frustrating part was that despite all the signs saying "No Glass on the Pool Deck and Hot Tub," the drink servers, when you could find one, still brought beer bottles and martini glasses to the students who were in the pool.
As with most ships, the shore excursions were wildly over-priced, so we used a outside vendor ShoreTrips. They knew our entire itinerary, knew before we did when it changed (Costa Maya was cancelled due to rough seas) and had excellent prices, 1/3-1/2 less than the ship costs. My favorite was ziplining and cave tubing in Belize. Cardinal, our tour guide was fantastic, taught us all about Belize, and pulled the 6 of us in our tubes through the 2 mile cave adventure! We went to Playa Mia in Cozumel and it was a typical large beach and ocean park with activities and food. If you want to paddleboard, I recommend Anita's, just to the left on the beach. Great selection of paddleboards and private instruction. Playa Mia also offers massages, and pedicures where the little fish eat the dead skin from your feet. Also has a larger nicer shopping selection than many of the other beaches. Dinner at Cozumel was at Pancho's Backyard. I have been eating there over 30 years, when I would come down on dive trips, and it WAS a backyard with fressly cooked seafood.
The Children's Clubs offered some great adventures, but our granddaughter turned clingy and wouldn't stay.
The Spa was as usual, with a bit of a hard sale, but I just said no and it was fine. The massages were great. In the Fitness Studio, i hate to admit that I couldn't figure out how to start the treadmill. I was a big blank screen, with no buttons or anything else to say how to use it. No biggy, it was more fun walking laps around the 10th and 11th decks. One full lap is 1100 steps, so ten laps met my Fitbit necessities. The Internet Cafe made great use of unusable space- it was a horseshoe up near the top of the Grand Atrium, so while I worked, I also heard the great bands and singers from the Atrium Bar.
We are planning next year's cruise, and are seriously considering another Norwegian cruise.
Very nice stateroom, big walk-through closet accessible from the dressing area or the main entry. Big balcony with two rattan recliners, a table and two chairs. Made, our steward, kept the room spotless, and brought afternoon tea treats every day.
Only complaint- we could only find one electrical outlet- in the vanity table, which did not make charging things very easy.
Family lived in Tampa, so we all met for dinner at Columbia restaurant
7 great lines!!
I will admit is was a long van ride- but we spent almost 4 hours, between the zip-lining and the cave-tubing and local lunch. This is a vigorous experience. Prepare to hike 2 miles up the mountain for the zip lining, and then 2 miles up-river carrying your inner tube, then floating 3 miles back down to the starting point. I got my steps that day!!
Great beach, nice people, food, beverages, lounge chairs all provided
Our scheduled tour was cancelled due to the ship not being able to dock...that said, Shore Excursions emailed me, advised me of the cancellation and refunded all my money to the credit card