I’ll start with background, then talk ports then the ship.
Our family trip was my 2 sister’s, my brother in law, niece, nephew and our parents. We have cruised before on the Jade, but our parents haven’t ever cruised. We had booked the western Caribbean cruise, which was Roatan Hondorus, Harvest Cay Belize, and Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico. Due to Hurricane Matthew our itinerary was changed and our first 2 ports were Falmouth Jamaica and Grand Cayman before heading to Mexico. We only did 1 NCL excursion in Costa Maya, the rest we just got off the ship and checked out the ports. Jamaica was a nice shopping port but small. There is usually a sightseeing trolley but it wasn’t running that day due to us being a surprise, which is interesting as we found out Sunday we were going to Jamaica on Tuesday. While we were the only ship in port that day, I still feel they would have had enough time. Since we couldn’t do that we thought to take the shuttle that was $20 round trip to Montego Bay. But when we went there they argued saying the $20 was for the big bus that left earlier, anc we would need to pay more. We finally got a group of 15 together and they agreed to take us for $20 each. Somewhere along the way we went from going to Montego Bay to a private beach called Tropical Bliss we had to pay $5 to get into. We were there for about 2 hours before heading back to the ship for all aboard time. My sister and I felt the $5 was worth it as they had free WiFi. They also had a bar and restaurant. One of the guys in our group had jerk chicken there and said it was awesome.
Grand Cayman was beautiful. We tendered there and got off the ship about 7:15am or so. What they didn’t tell us was most shops didn’t open until 9. But we found a couple open and purchased the souviners we were looking for. We then booked an excursion to swim with sting rays and snorkel at the port for $45 each. We went out in a small bus, there was maybe 20 or so of us, to a small yacht type boat where he took us out. It was a great excursion and I liked being in a smaller group. We saw other boats pull up that had to have 100 or so people in them. It was an excursion approved by the port authority and they got us back for all aboard time of 2pm.
Costa Maya we booked an excursion thru NCL to go see 2 Mayan ruins (Kohunlich & Dzibanche) that was excellent. I highly recommend that. Diego our guide was fantastic. You can climb these ruins and it’s not crowded or commercialized. My 13 and 16 year old niece and nephew , who are history buffs, really enjoyed it as well.
Cozumel we just looked in the shops at the port and headed back but my sister and brother in law took a snorkeling excursion for $30 each booked in the port someplace that they really enjoyed.
As for the ship itself, it was nice but felt somewhat disorganized in layout to us. The Getaway Theatre is much smaller then the theatre on the Jade, which is a smaller ship in NCL’s fleet, and seems underutilized. They have a ton of things going on in the atrium area, making it loud there. Surrounding the atrium area is the front desk area, the library, Internet cafe and game room. The game room is further back so the noise isn’t too bad but the library and Internet cafe are noisy. They could do that stuff in the theatre to give that area some quiet time.
I didn’t like that you had to book the shows ahead of time, it takes the spontaneity out of things. I also didn’t like that there were so many places you had to pay extra to eat. Margaritaville (which I believe replaced the Flamingo Cafe listed in info on this ship as we saw no place by that name anywhere and the location listed is where it is) the bakery, gelato shop, sushi bar and specialty dining are almost 1/2 the places to eat. Shanghai’s was good, though our waiter was horrible, but we wouldn’t go back because it’s right next to the casino and you get all that lovely second hand smoke to breath while you are eating. Their air filtration system in the casino, of they have one, is crap and doesn’t work. Though my spring rolls were barely warm inside, the soup and fried rice were good. Plus if you need accessible seating they have 2 seats that are lower all the way in the back. Our party of 8 was split in a way that we weren’t exactly eating together.
The main dining rooms were good, the food was mostly good (smoked ravioli, cream of cauliflower and cream of asparagus soups, shrimp scampi pasta, chicken cordon bleu) some items were not, like my Cobb salad (that said chopped greens and was in reality spring mix and definitely not chopped) and the baked Brie salad, could be skipped. If you are like me and don’t like spring mix, stick to the ceaser salad.
The garden cafe was pretty good, we usually only ate there for breakfast lunch and snack preferring sit down locations for dinner, but everything there was pretty tasty.
We had the specialty dining package included in our cruise. Teppanyaki was the best meal we had on the ship. Moderno was pretty good as well, as was Le Bistro. Le Bistro was the fanciest of the 3 by far.
Osheehans was pretty good as well, we lunches there twice and enjoyed what we had. Our servers were hit or miss as well for the dining rooms and the pub.
We did sign up for Escape the Big Top, which is an escape room game. We had fun but the venue they hold it in is too small in my opinion. It was hard to move around to see what you needed to. But still fun and if you like escape rooms you will enjoy it. They put you in teams of 10 and there is at least 8-10 teams per game.
We saw Burn the Floor, which was good but the female singer was a little screechy when she was singing solo in my opinion, but when she was with the male singer she dialed it back a notch and was better. Their sound system needs some help I think, we were in the back but had a hard time making out the lyrics.
Million dollar quartet was good, but overall my family wasn’t wow’d By it with most of them leaving before it was over. Just my 1 sister and I stayed to the end. The guy playing Jerry Lee was amazing!
We didn’t make it to the comedy shows or howl at the moon, though I’ve been several times to the Howl at the moon location in Orlando, so I know it’s a fun time. I liked that they recorded some of the entertainment and showed it on the tv. I watched the not so newlywed game while getting ready for dinner one night at it was hysterical.
They have a nice, but small, game room that is stocked with checkers, chinese checkers, backgammon, Yahtzee, monopoly, and 1 family edition trivial pursuit. We used it for family card games but it was quite the popular spot. The library also has an interesting supply of books available to use or borrow. They had coffee and muffins in there in the morning.
Debarkation went smoother then our Embarkation. That was confusing. My mom was in a wheelchair and their check in was literally about 4 times quicker then ours. Our guy took so long to get our keys that the agents on each side checked in 2-3 families each while he was gone. And he never gave us a map. Since my mom was being assisted in her wheelchair they loaded her on the ship right away and my sisters and I could not find them for like 40 minutes. Cell service on board was hit or miss.
We were in 14846. We picked it as our parents were in 14856 which is an ADA room with a roll in shower, and wanted to be close to them. We were a little leary of the location being right off the elevator and were worried about the noise, but for us there wasn’t much really. We had some noise from the Garden Cafe above us, but not a lot. The balcony had a beautiful unobstructed view. The room looked just like the picture of the balcony room on NCL’s website. The only real complaints we had was the closet is in an inconvienent place and there wasn’t much counter space in the bathroom. The shower was much smaller then in the inside cabin we had on the Jade. But overall we really enjoyed the room and the balcony.
Our excursion was a combo of Dzibanche and Kohunlich. Diego our guide was fantastic! I chose this excursion as everything I read said it was not commercial or crowded and you could climb these ruins. It was all accurate. We enjoyed it tremendously. The bus ride there is 2 hours, as is the return, but Diego gave us all kinds of info on the way. I was even able to order a Mayan calender of my birthday that was made while we were touring for $27 from a local craftsman. I love it! It’s personalized and not something you can buy anywhere else.
If you are looking to see ruins in their natural setting without a ton of people this is your tour.View All 17 Dzibanche Ruins Reviews
We booked a stingray swim and snorkel with a tour company in the port. It was $45 and was worth it!View All 795 Stingray Swim Reviews
Group taxi took us to a private beach. Not what we though but somehow wires we crossed. $5 entry fee was worth if for the WiFi.View All undefined undefined Reviews