We chose this cruise because it left from our home port and did a full transit of the Panama Canal. Both were highlights of the cruise and fantastic. We loved taking a taxi to the port and fortunately had been warned by the CC roll call that the pier information was incorrect. I contacted NCL 3 times the month before sailing asking them to correct the edocs, but it was never done. We expected lots of confusion so arrived right at our 11:00 boarding time and had no delays getting on the ship. We had lunch in the MDR and dropped our carry ons in our cabin when it was available. To our delight, our balcony view was of the golden gate bridge and the Blue Angels practicing fly bys! The ship departed 2 1/2 hours later than scheduled which again was no surprise. The sun was just starting to set and the sail under the Golden Gate was amazing.
Panama Canal crossing started with a 6:25am announcement from a canal spokeswoman and views of Panama City. Enjoyed this day a great deal. We started our viewing with the complimentary Panamanian breakfast (and mimosas) from our balcony and moved around the ship throughout the day with our favorite views being aft from the Great Outdoors. The Pearl was behind us and a large HAL ship next to us throughout the transit.
The ports on this cruise are not great. Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Huatulco were ok but similar to each other. Puerto Chiapas was a waste - we stayed on the ship and used the spa. Keep asking the spa about specials - it took about 4 separate inquiries, but finally we found a special that worked perfectly for us. In Puntarenas we were stuck at an industrial port outside of town. The tour guides had to board the bus out on a main road. Our excursion was ok, but many longer excursions were caught in terrible traffic jams. The ship waited 5 hours past departure for everyone to get back. Cartagena was the final port and the intense heat and aggressive "vendors" were too much to deal with.
Fantastic location. The bathroom is much larger than mini suites on other ships. It had a full size bathtub, but no separate shower so stepping over the high sides of the tub to use the shower was tricky - especially during rough seas. We stayed in the same cabin 2 years ago and nothing has been touched. The bathroom tile is beyond needing a good scrubbing. The carpet was awful and was actually being replaced the day we disembarked.