This was our second cruise overall and with NCL. We sailed to Alaska last year in July with a group of 20 others and nearly all of us came back for this cruise. We flew to Miami the day before cruise departure and were among the first to board the ship on the morning of departure. All was handled very efficiently by NCL and we were soon on-board for lunch, though that was confined to the Market Place buffet as all the other restaurants on board were not yet open. A little more waiting till 2pm when our cabins became available. Then at 4pm we cast off. Shipboard, everything went very well throughout the cruise. The staff were pleasant and catered to every need. We ate dinner almost every evening in the Tsar's Palace, served by a great staff matching the behavior of our cabin staff. With a soda pop pass, I found out that the waiter if asked, would bring a Pepsi to the table. Also I occasionally ordered and was served a baked potato in lieu of the main course even when it wasn't on the menu. If you like appetizers on the menu, you can order several instead of the usual dinner courses. I'd like to see availability of soda in the Market Place. The Market Place buffet was better stocked with more variety than on our Alaskan cruise on the Star the previous year. If you want to steal cookies, get them at lunch. Hardly a paper napkin on the ship except at the ice cream dispensor. We stayed in a balcony cabin this time around, having learned how nice they are, and I'd do it again unless price differences between inside and balcony cabins were great. A slight discomfort was in being downwind from smokers in the balcony next to us. The cabin, larger than an inside cabin was well suited to unpack our suitcases and live out of the cabin closet rather than from bags on the floor. The bathroom shower was also just fine. We didn't see very much of the entertainment, but some of the group did and said that it was quite good, especially the ventriloquist. We did go to some of the presentations about ports and shopping which were ok, but I wonder if art, jewelry and diamonds aren't a business plan throwback to the days when only the very rich went on cruises. How could I possibly verify the value of a painting, way out at sea? Also the Dali-Disney art presentation on the Jewel was the same one that was on the Star last year. I guess they still haven't sold those pieces. Bingo cards were in each cabin and we took ours to the bingo presentation that seemed to get way out of hand. Only $80 for this electronic gizmo that contained 97 cards - that's $20 per game, and if there was more than one bingo winner in a game, a little calculation would prove that you couldn't break even very easily. But there was a line up for those bingo machines - poor uneducated folk. In the evening just before bedtime, we went up to the hot pools. They should be open till midnight and open again at 6am; they were closed at 10pm, and didn't open till 8am. One of the group who likes to do this arranged for port tours. We took some shipboard-arranged tours and some arranged separately from NCL. All of them turned out pretty well, including a shipboard arranged Lamanai ruins tour from Belize, and a privately arranged tour from Costa Maya to Kohunlich ruins the next day. The best shopping bargains are at Roatan, though selection is meager. Costa Maya wares were, well Mexican, with sellers always on top of you. You should bargain there. Things for sale in the Bahamas except for shells seemed to be quite flimsy, so we didn't buy much there. Oh, the nicety of a thick tee-shirt. If you want to buy t-shirts on board, wait till the last cruise day when they put them on sale. Since we had a day to burn in Miami before we flew home the next day, we bought a shipboard tour to the Everglades. Good idea. Baggage was handled from the get-go, the tour was excellent, and our bags were put off the tour bus when we got to the Miami airport. Overall, I rate this cruise as very satisfying.
Enough space to unpack and put things in the closet. Smokers upwind sometimes got in the way of using the balcony. The bed was marginal for my back - had to sleep right on the edge to get a good night sleep. TV Captains log had unchanging data for sunrise and sunset and sea conditions, though we sailed 800 nautical miles from east to west. A nice addition, especially in the tropics would be sea temperature. The bathroom and shower were good - I thought about installing those shampoo dispensors in my own shower. Very good cabin staff.