Let me start by saying I love to travel, especially to Caribbean islands. I particularly love vacations filled with nature, adventure and exploring new places. I've traveled quite a bit over the years, so I know that a big part of traveling is keeping things in stride and going with the flow. With this cruise vacation, however, my patience was tested even before getting on the ship. First the long line to drop off luggage, then the REALLY long line to go through security, then the line to check in, and finish that off with a line to get your picture taken and pretend you're having fun while still bundled in winter coats.
Once on the boat my main complaints how smokey it is. The design of the ship is just terrible. They put the casino (where they allow smoking) in an open area around a 3-level atrium. And on these 3 levels are most things you'd want to enjoy on the ship--restaurants, comedy club, lounges, shopping, theatre, etc. The smoke is not contained at all, but wafts throughout these 3 floors.
Complaint #2: The Garden Cafe. The very first morning of our cruise we went down to breakfast at 10:15 am (an unusually busy time, maybe?) and I just wanted to cry. The place was packed. The three of us waited a long time to get our food, but then walked around and around the place and could not find a place to sit. I was prepared to eat standing up, but then couldn't find any utensils to eat with (I later learned they're kept on the tables). People without any food were saving tables all over--a problem we also experienced with pool chairs, seating in the lounges, the theatre, you name it. This was one crowded ship. Another thing...I was thinking such a big cruise ship would have plenty of variety and I would be able to find enough things to eat. I normally eat a diet of mainly vegetables with a little meat. At breakfast there was not a vegetable to be found, unless you count the tablespoon of spinach in my omelet. It was pretty much a buffet of meat and sugar.
On the positive side, the entertainment was really nice. "After Midnight" was absolutely awesome! Wow, what talent. I left wanting to see what else those performers might be able to do. "The Brat Pack" was OK. The staff talent show at the end was cute. The comedians were on board were great--Spencer James and Flip Shultz, as was Ben Nemzer, the magician/comedian. The Adele tribute artist (Chelsea something) was great. One suggestion for Norwegian: quit shining those strobe lights into the eyes of audience members! It happened at every show we saw in the theater.
The overall vibe of the ship just wasn't for me. Maybe it was because this cruise spanned over New Year's, but there were so many drunk people everywhere. Surprising, since it seems it would be awfully expensive to get drunk on that ship! Also, I felt nickel-and-dimed. Extra $ for internet service, extra to use a Norwegian app that lets you text others on the ship while out at sea, extra for some of the entertainment and restaurants, $6 for a bottle of water from the bar, and so on.
The cabin was very nice and actually more spacious than I'd expected. This might sound funny, but I sort of wished we had a tour of the space when we first got there. It took several days to find out I was supposed to use switches on the wall for "do not disturb" and "please make up the room"--switches that go in the opposite direction of what you'd expect, by the way (press down for on, up for off). And what is that silver bin hanging inside the bathroom cabinet? Is that for holding my toiletries, or for garbage? And that the steward filled the ice bucket every day. And probably most importantly . . . that there IS a way to get better water pressure (push the button on the shower thingy and twist all the way to the back). Still never figured out a way to keep the bottom sheet (that's not fitted) from coming off in the middle of the night.
The kayaking trip was pretty simple--a bunch of us taking double kayaks down the shore to a small island where we could swim at a nice, uncrowded beach. Wear water shoes! You have to walk across some gnarly stuff to get to the beach, and once in the water there are patches of sea weed. The beach was nice, though. Very pretty and much less chaotic than the main beach at Great Stirrup Cay.View All 12 Kayaking Reviews
Our family of 4 took an Uber to Universal Studios. It's an hour's drive away and pick-up after the park closed was a madhouse. Took 45 minutes for our poor Uber driver to snake his way through the traffic to where we were waiting. One comment about Universal . . . There is one great roller coaster, and then most of the other rides seemed to be the motion-simulator type....the kind where you go into a room and watch a screen that makes you feel like you're moving. Not particularly fun to me.View All 54 Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure Reviews
We booked the Miami bus tour. It was nice getting to see what Miami looked like and we had two stops--one at an outdoor shopping mall in Miami beach and one in Little Havana. The tourguide, however, could have been better. He was from Argentina (if I remember correctly) and between his accent and gravelly voice, it was very hard to understand what he was saying. He also repeated himself a lot and didn't have any of those fun, get-to-really-know-the-city stories that excellent tourguides often have.View All 169 City Tour Reviews