Here's the good: The ship was great, I liked the layout, lots to do. We did our own excursions on land, but we liked all the ports; especially the variety - all 4 days were different. NCL's private caye was better than expected; just go knowing it will be a relaxing easy going day, and you will enjoy your time there. The margharita at the land shark rank one of the best I've ever had. Onboard shows were good, million $ quartet and burn the floor were excellent. We took a chance on the wine lovers musical, even though we didn't have a clue what it was about (not much marketing on this one). It was good too; cute little show if you like drinking wine, and good value for an upcharge. Our balcony stateroom was better than most of the reviews I read; ours was fine and our steward was good too. Pool entertainment was fun, thank you ncl for keeping the kids out of the adult section, since yes that area is pretty small, but we seemed to manage. Grateful for all the live pool music and the beach ball; made it fun, and helped people have a good time. Also very good house wine, I got spoiled. Bartenders were busy but good, friendly and fun. Get to know them, throw them a buck or two when you order a drink, it will make everyone smile including you, and they will remember you. The staff was mostly very good, but overworked; that's probably the case on all cruises?..... Cruise director Mandy and her team worked extremely hard at helping people have a good time. Cheers to them! The new guy Joey has a very funny and quirky sense of humor - good hire! From a childless perpective, there seemed to be a lot going on for kids, which was great; it was like a whole different world going on that you hardly noticed unless you wanted to, and yet was easily accessible if you did have kids onboard. Nicely done NCL. Another nice surprise, we got chocolate covered strawberries sent to our room one day, compliments of one of the managers. Not everyone got them, and I'm not sure why we did. But they were delicious and that was a very nice gesture. They seem to be taking all the bad reviews of this cruise to heart, and in some ways it shows. .....
Now here's the part of the cruise that still needs work: food was very hit or miss; and overall subpar in comparision to the other 2 cruise lines I was on several years ago. The daily buffet was consistently good (the ribs were excellent!), and I liked the atmosphere, service and appetizers (very good) in the Tropicana. But I did have a couple of dishes, one in taste and one in savor, that I did not even want to eat. Even Ocean, their top restaurant, was inconsistent, and probably the worst service we had all week; I would have much preferred to give that mandatory 20% tip to the table and floor cleaners at the buffet; at least they deserved it. I don't think our experience at Ocean is necessarily the norm, but it does support my case of 'hit or miss' (and unfortunately that was my birthday dinner). Food in Ocean was just ok, we had the seafood extravaganza; I wouldn't order it again. A lady next to us said her grouper fish was good. Most of the meals onboard were ok to good; but we paid extra for 3 different meals (2 in conjunction with dinner shows), and not one meal all week made me go "wow, was that ever good". The internet in our cabin stunk; I had to do a little business while I was onboard, and I spent about 175 of my 250 minute internet package just waiting for website connections that kept getting dropped. Once I went down to the internet cafe the connection did get better, and the lattes they sold there were consistently perfect. Probably the most disappointing part of the cruise was how fast everything sold out, even though they could have allowed for more participants sometimes; some onboard activities allowed for less than 20 people and it was not always clear where or how to sign up for things. In fact, the dining didn't seem like free style dining at all; because things sold out so fast, it took a lot of work to plan meals and entertainment before you could just relax and enjoy. Do take the time to book as much as you can online before you go, and still expect some minor communication omissions/annoyances, or expect to spend most of your first day standing in line for all kinds of things. Do read the daily paper if you have specific classes you want to take (you won't find these online), and get there very early if you end up on a waiting list. We had some pretty upset people over the painting class line up, and there was no reason why NCL couldn't have added 15 more easels, especially when people were willing to pay the somewhat exhorbitant $35 class fee. Lots of upcharges for a lot of things, not all of those published either. .....Overall, after reading all the bad reviews before I went, I would say this cruise was better than I expected, and some of the old complaints seem to be getting rectified. They are working very hard to help you have a good time, and I did have a good time, as long as I looked past the food mishaps and the ubiquitous upcharges. I did spend more money than I wanted to, but good news is, I didn't gain any extra weight on this cruise! As for next time, sorry to say, I had high hopes for NCL, but I think we're going to try a different cruise line, even if it costs a little more upfront.
Cabin was good. Bathroom is large for a cruise ship. Balcony size works fine for 2 people. Steward was a bit shy but good.
Better than expected, great margaritas at land shark
just took a taxi to end of island
enjoyed the shopping, took a taxi to the real costa maya and had lunch on the beach