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Just arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was very favorable. Embarkation: We arrived in FLL 2 hours later than scheduled, but still in plenty of time for SAS to get us to the port without problems. Having read here that SAS was a good bet, we tried them, and they did not disappoint. We did have to wait quite a while in the terminal before numbers were called, and this was perhaps because of the time change? I'm not sure. However, once numbers were called, the process was quick and smooth. Photos: I have to say that most of the photos taken by ship's photographers were hurried, and not well done. We did not do a sitting, and that probably would have made a big difference in how they turned out. I was pleased that you could decline to have all the pictures taken at dinner, etc. In the past we have purchased photos, but didn't find a single one worth buying this trip. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. While it was smaller than some other lines, we found that the bathroom configuration of the space was superior, and the rest of the cabin very adequate. We could have used more drawer space, but that is a small matter, and the shelves accommodated extra things nicely. The beds are much more comfortable than we have experienced on other lines, and having broken a vertebra in my spine a little while before the cruise, a comfortable bed was much appreciated! We love having a balcony, and spend quite a bit of time on it; we always take binoculars, and so that makes viewing things from the balcony much more interesting. This time we saw flying fish several times, huge schools of fish at the surface, and birds diving for them - it made the water boil!! We also saw either a dolphin or a porpoise - don't know which. Of course, it is fun to observe other ships - tankers, container ships, yachts, and other cruise ships as well. Having that private space on a balcony is totally worth it to us, but we would probably still cruise and enjoy it without if we couldn't afford to have one. Freestyle: Having never cruised NCL, and having enjoyed formal nights before, we thought we would miss them. However - I have to say that we loved the relaxed atmosphere and feel of freestyle!! We dressed up a little, but not at all black tie. It was just so relaxing to be able to do whatever we wanted. We were seated with others several nights, and left to ourselves on others. Met some great people, and were able to enjoy ourselves separately as well. A nice mix, and again - VERY RELAXING!! We were truly ON VACATION!! Food/Beverage: We had planned to stop for soda and water before boarding, but it just didn't happen, because our flight was delayed so much. So we purchased a soda card - just one. I am much more addicted to soda than my husband, and so I became familiar with the bars. The woman who is in the Java Cafe mornings is a sweetheart - remembered that ice hurts my teeth - and was always a smiling beginning to my day!! We don't drink alcohol - so I cannot speak to how they manage wine service, etc. I do have to say that I never felt "nickeled and dimed" as I have frequently read as a complaint on this board. Did they try to sell raffle tickets at every show? Yes - and that happens on all the lines. Did bar staff go around the pool or on the beach offering drinks? Yes - and that also has happened on every cruiseline we have been on. Can't speak to the luxury cruiselines, because we have not done Seabourne, etc. I know food is a pretty subjective thing; but I have worked in food service at one of the premiere hotels when I was young. I have a feel for what should happen - even in large banquet service. We ate breakfast either in Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. The omelet stations are still there, and they are really good! They also have eggs benedict in Garden Cafe - something I didn't expect! One time the English Muffin was pretty tough - must have been sitting a while - but otherwise none of the breakfast items we tried were disappointing. We tried Tsar's, Azura, and the Garden Cafe for lunch, and could always find something refreshing and delicious. Dinners, we mostly ate at Tsar's. The lobster was tough, but difficult to serve that many and have a different outcome, I think. Swordfish was a little fishy - but okay. Once, my turkey scallopini was a little burned. If you complained, it was addressed immediately, and either replaced or something else brought out. This happened even if the complaint was only that you didn't like the dish. The souffle was consistently delicious. The creme brulee was also delicious - more on that later. Taboulle was flavorful and delicious. We found that our food was always brought to us cold if it should be cold, and warm/hot if it should have been. Meats were cooked as ordered!! We took the advice of many of the cruise critics, and tried the other restaurants. Our favorite was Le Bistro. The staff here were superior, although we rarely found any problems with any of the staff in the main dining rooms. The hostess truly went out of her way to ensure that our dining experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The chef sent out a couple of things that we didn't order - just "compliments of the chef" - and they were a treat! Earlier I noted that the swordfish in the main dining room was a little fishy. NOT SO at Le Bistro - where it was truly the best we have ever eaten! The duck was good as well. The escargot is also superior here to the main dining room. I said I would say more on the creme brulee - and I will. In the main dining room it was served with a chocolate ganache, and that was a delicious addition!! However, for the lovely presentation with the fruit basket, as it is served in Le Bistro - it gets full marks! The Chef sent out chocolate truffles that were soooooo delicious!! I make chocolate truffles, and have had some from people who are considered great chocolatiers - but these were superior! Service/crew We had great service wherever we were on the ship. Ahmad and Marc were our room stewards, and they were always ready to do whatever to make us more comfortable and ensure that our cruise was enjoyable. All over the ship, people smile and speak politely to you, as they are busy polishing, etc. to keep the ship gleaming. Were there streak marks on the mirror? Yes, once - but we chose to ignore the little things, and just relax! There was a disagreement with the purser's desk. They said at one point that our credit card was declined. When I called my bank, they told me that two authorizations had come through for $800 - and they questioned it because we had not told them we were leaving the country. My bank told me there was over $3000, so they wouldn't decline. Purser's desk told me that they had never sent this $800 through. Finally, I was able to use another card - and we are still waiting for the $800 to come off. My bank is watching this for me. Hope I don't have a problem about this, but will deal with that if I have to do so. We were able to go to the meet and greet - thanks to Jake for setting that up! - and while there meeting several members of the crew, the captain invited us all to the bridge for a tour. That was a great experience - not to be missed!! I have read good things on these boards about John, Paul, and Captain Costas - I cannot say his real name, sorry. These crew members are approachable, genuine and delightful people!! They truly want to make your cruise everything it should be - magical! Entertainment: One word: WOW! The Jean Ann Ryan Co. is professional and talented! We do not expect the onboard entertainment to rival shows we have seen on and off Broadway and in Europe - but these shows do just that. Alicia is a highlight every time she comes onto the stage - but the whole company is wonderfully gifted. The musicians are amazing - especially the saxophonist!! Even the poolside entertainment is really good. Don't - DO NOT - miss the Cirque du Soliel!! The comedian, Tom/Tim? Kaminsky is also a true headliner! Shore Excursions: We just walked around in Roatan. We had planned to catch a taxi to a beach - but they were all expensive at the original parking lot. Later on we realized that we could have hired one off the beaten track for much less. However, by that time, we had spotted a small private beach right off the main road - and we had it to ourselves for the entire afternoon! In Belize, we took the ship's tour to Lamanai. Tour guide that we had was knowledgeable about wildlife and birds, botany, and Mayan History! We were able to see howler monkeys, cormorants, igrets, herons - many types of birds. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in Lamanai, and what a view! Long day, but totally worth it!! In Costa Maya, we had arranged to meet with David Villagomez, "The Native Choice" for a tour of Chacchoben. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!! David and Ivan are both Mayan, and Ivan's family actually lived at this site. This ruin was not excavated until the 1990s, and was not opened to the public until 2001. There was not a question asked thJust arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was very favorable. Embarkation: We arrived in FLL 2 hours later than scheduled, but still in plenty of time for SAS to get us to the port without problems. Having read here that SAS was a good bet, we tried them, and they did not disappoint. We did have to wait quite a while in the terminal before numbers were called, and this was perhaps because of the time change? I'm not sure. However, once numbers were called, the process was quick and smooth. Photos: I have to say that most of the photos taken by ship's photographers were hurried, and not well done. We did not do a sitting, and that probably would have made a big difference in how they turned out. I was pleased that you could decline to have all the pictures taken at dinner, etc. In the past we have purchased photos, but didn't find a single one worth buying this trip. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. While it was smaller than some other lines, we found that the bathroom configuration of the space was superior, and the rest of the cabin very adequate. We could have used more drawer space, but that is a small matter, and the shelves accommodated extra things nicely. The beds are much more comfortable than we have experienced on other lines, and having broken a vertebra in my spine a little while before the cruise, a comfortable bed was much appreciated! We love having a balcony, and spend quite a bit of time on it; we always take binoculars, and so that makes viewing things from the balcony much more interesting. This time we saw flying fish several times, huge schools of fish at the surface, and birds diving for them - it made the water boil!! We also saw either a dolphin or a porpoise - don't know which. Of course, it is fun to observe other ships - tankers, container ships, yachts, and other cruise ships as well. Having that private space on a balcony is totally worth it to us, but we would probably still cruise and enjoy it without if we couldn't afford to have one. Freestyle: Having never cruised NCL, and having enjoyed formal nights before, we thought we would miss them. However - I have to say that we loved the relaxed atmosphere and feel of freestyle!! We dressed up a little, but not at all black tie. It was just so relaxing to be able to do whatever we wanted. We were seated with others several nights, and left to ourselves on others. Met some great people, and were able to enjoy ourselves separately as well. A nice mix, and again - VERY RELAXING!! We were truly ON VACATION!! Food/Beverage: We had planned to stop for soda and water before boarding, but it just didn't happen, because our flight was delayed so much. So we purchased a soda card - just one. I am much more addicted to soda than my husband, and so I became familiar with the bars. The woman who is in the Java Cafe mornings is a sweetheart - remembered that ice hurts my teeth - and was always a smiling beginning to my day!! We don't drink alcohol - so I cannot speak to how they manage wine service, etc. I do have to say that I never felt "nickeled and dimed" as I have frequently read as a complaint on this board. Did they try to sell raffle tickets at every show? Yes - and that happens on all the lines. Did bar staff go around the pool or on the beach offering drinks? Yes - and that also has happened on every cruiseline we have been on. Can't speak to the luxury cruiselines, because we have not done Seabourne, etc. I know food is a pretty subjective thing; but I have worked in food service at one of the premiere hotels when I was young. I have a feel for what should happen - even in large banquet service. We ate breakfast either in Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. The omelet stations are still there, and they are really good! They also have eggs benedict in Garden Cafe - something I didn't expect! One time the English Muffin was pretty tough - must have been sitting a while - but otherwise none of the breakfast items we tried were disappointing. We tried Tsar's, Azura, and the Garden Cafe for lunch, and could always find something refreshing and delicious. Dinners, we mostly ate at Tsar's. The lobster was tough, but difficult to serve that many and have a different outcome, I think. Swordfish was a little fishy - but okay. Once, my turkey scallopini was a little burned. If you complained, it was addressed immediately, and either replaced or something else brought out. This happened even if the complaint was only that you didn't like the dish. The souffle was consistently delicious. The creme brulee was also delicious - more on that later. Taboulle was flavorful and delicious. We found that our food was always brought to us cold if it should be cold, and warm/hot if it should have been. Meats were cooked as ordered!! We took the advice of many of the cruise critics, and tried the other restaurants. Our favorite was Le Bistro. The staff here were superior, although we rarely found any problems with any of the staff in the main dining rooms. The hostess truly went out of her way to ensure that our dining experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The chef sent out a couple of things that we didn't order - just "compliments of the chef" - and they were a treat! Earlier I noted that the swordfish in the main dining room was a little fishy. NOT SO at Le Bistro - where it was truly the best we have ever eaten! The duck was good as well. The escargot is also superior here to the main dining room. I said I would say more on the creme brulee - and I will. In the main dining room it was served with a chocolate ganache, and that was a delicious addition!! However, for the lovely presentation with the fruit basket, as it is served in Le Bistro - it gets full marks! The Chef sent out chocolate truffles that were soooooo delicious!! I make chocolate truffles, and have had some from people who are considered great chocolatiers - but these were superior! Service/crew We had great service wherever we were on the ship. Ahmad and Marc were our room stewards, and they were always ready to do whatever to make us more comfortable and ensure that our cruise was enjoyable. All over the ship, people smile and speak politely to you, as they are busy polishing, etc. to keep the ship gleaming. Were there streak marks on the mirror? Yes, once - but we chose to ignore the little things, and just relax! There was a disagreement with the purser's desk. They said at one point that our credit card was declined. When I called my bank, they told me that two authorizations had come through for $800 - and they questioned it because we had not told them we were leaving the country. My bank told me there was over $3000, so they wouldn't decline. Purser's desk told me that they had never sent this $800 through. Finally, I was able to use another card - and we are still waiting for the $800 to come off. My bank is watching this for me. Hope I don't have a problem about this, but will deal with that if I have to do so. We were able to go to the meet and greet - thanks to Jake for setting that up! - and while there meeting several members of the crew, the captain invited us all to the bridge for a tour. That was a great experience - not to be missed!! I have read good things on these boards about John, Paul, and Captain Costas - I cannot say his real name, sorry. These crew members are approachable, genuine and delightful people!! They truly want to make your cruise everything it should be - magical! Entertainment: One word: WOW! The Jean Ann Ryan Co. is professional and talented! We do not expect the onboard entertainment to rival shows we have seen on and off Broadway and in Europe - but these shows do just that. Alicia is a highlight every time she comes onto the stage - but the whole company is wonderfully gifted. The musicians are amazing - especially the saxophonist!! Even the poolside entertainment is really good. Don't - DO NOT - miss the Cirque du Soliel!! The comedian, Tom/Tim? Kaminsky is also a true headliner! Shore Excursions: We just walked around in Roatan. We had planned to catch a taxi to a beach - but they were all expensive at the original parking lot. Later on we realized that we could have hired one off the beaten track for much less. However, by that time, we had spotted a small private beach right off the main road - and we had it to ourselves for the entire afternoon! In Belize, we took the ship's tour to Lamanai. Tour guide that we had was knowledgeable about wildlife and birds, botany, and Mayan History! We were able to see howler monkeys, cormorants, igrets, herons - many types of birds. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in Lamanai, and what a view! Long day, but totally worth it!! In Costa Maya, we had arranged to meet with David Villagomez, "The Native Choice" for a tour of Chacchoben. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!! David and Ivan are both Mayan, and Ivan's family actually lived at this site. This ruin was not excavated until the 1990s, and was not opened to the public until 2001. There was not a question asked that David didn't know the answer! The man's knowledge of Mayan history, the ruins, the religious philosophy, the daily life, the plant and animal life there is encyclopedic!! Our tour lasted twice as long as the other tours there - but we came away with a burning desire to visit again and learn more about this important archaeological at David didn't know the answer! The man's knowledge of Mayan history, the ruins, the religious philosophy, the daily life, the plant and animal life there is encyclopedic!! Our tour lasted twice as long as the other tours there - but we came away with a burning desire to visit again and learn more about this important archaeological find! David also told us of a new dig that may be even more important than this - where we will also visit in the future! Our ship was able to tender us in to GSC, and we spent about 3 hours snorkeling there. You are forced to wear a small life vest, and that was a little frustrating, because then it is very difficult to do any diving for a closer look! However, lots of things to see if you took your time, and let the fish come out, rather than hiding in the rocks, etc. Other passengers: This ship had a great mix of ages. I love seeing children enjoying themselves, and most of the time the kids we saw were very well-behaved. This was a spring break cruise for college kids, and that was good to see. Of course, Kev and I fit in with the approaching seniors - but most that we saw were still very active and willing to try. I have to say one thing. At the first port and also the last before GSC, we saw people escorted off the ship. I don't know what the woman who was escorted off in Costa Maya did - but a couple a few doors down from our cabin was escorted off in Roatan for smoking pot in their cabin. People - just don't be stupid!! Keep your illegal substances and activities at home, and just have a great vacation!! Overall experience/evaluation: Will we cruise with NCL in the future?? You betcha!! This cruise made it hard to come home to work! But hey - we work, so that we can save for the next cruise!  

Every facet truly a Jewel!

Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by mellygo

Trip Details
Just arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was very favorable.
Embarkation: We arrived in FLL 2 hours later than scheduled, but still in plenty of time for SAS to get us to the port without problems. Having read here that SAS was a good bet, we tried them, and they did not disappoint. We did have to wait quite a while in the terminal before numbers were called, and this was perhaps because of the time change? I'm not sure. However, once numbers were called, the process was quick and smooth.
Photos: I have to say that most of the photos taken by ship's photographers were hurried, and not well done. We did not do a sitting, and that probably would have made a big difference in how they turned out. I was pleased that you could decline to have all the pictures taken at dinner, etc. In the past we have purchased photos, but didn't find a single one worth buying this trip.
Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. While it was smaller than some other lines, we found that the bathroom configuration of the space was superior, and the rest of the cabin very adequate. We could have used more drawer space, but that is a small matter, and the shelves accommodated extra things nicely. The beds are much more comfortable than we have experienced on other lines, and having broken a vertebra in my spine a little while before the cruise, a comfortable bed was much appreciated! We love having a balcony, and spend quite a bit of time on it; we always take binoculars, and so that makes viewing things from the balcony much more interesting. This time we saw flying fish several times, huge schools of fish at the surface, and birds diving for them - it made the water boil!! We also saw either a dolphin or a porpoise - don't know which. Of course, it is fun to observe other ships - tankers, container ships, yachts, and other cruise ships as well. Having that private space on a balcony is totally worth it to us, but we would probably still cruise and enjoy it without if we couldn't afford to have one.
Freestyle: Having never cruised NCL, and having enjoyed formal nights before, we thought we would miss them. However - I have to say that we loved the relaxed atmosphere and feel of freestyle!! We dressed up a little, but not at all black tie. It was just so relaxing to be able to do whatever we wanted. We were seated with others several nights, and left to ourselves on others. Met some great people, and were able to enjoy ourselves separately as well. A nice mix, and again - VERY RELAXING!! We were truly ON VACATION!!
Food/Beverage: We had planned to stop for soda and water before boarding, but it just didn't happen, because our flight was delayed so much. So we purchased a soda card - just one. I am much more addicted to soda than my husband, and so I became familiar with the bars. The woman who is in the Java Cafe mornings is a sweetheart - remembered that ice hurts my teeth - and was always a smiling beginning to my day!! We don't drink alcohol - so I cannot speak to how they manage wine service, etc. I do have to say that I never felt "nickeled and dimed" as I have frequently read as a complaint on this board. Did they try to sell raffle tickets at every show? Yes - and that happens on all the lines. Did bar staff go around the pool or on the beach offering drinks? Yes - and that also has happened on every cruiseline we have been on. Can't speak to the luxury cruiselines, because we have not done Seabourne, etc.
I know food is a pretty subjective thing; but I have worked in food service at one of the premiere hotels when I was young. I have a feel for what should happen - even in large banquet service. We ate breakfast either in Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. The omelet stations are still there, and they are really good! They also have eggs benedict in Garden Cafe - something I didn't expect! One time the English Muffin was pretty tough - must have been sitting a while - but otherwise none of the breakfast items we tried were disappointing. We tried Tsar's, Azura, and the Garden Cafe for lunch, and could always find something refreshing and delicious. Dinners, we mostly ate at Tsar's. The lobster was tough, but difficult to serve that many and have a different outcome, I think. Swordfish was a little fishy - but okay. Once, my turkey scallopini was a little burned. If you complained, it was addressed immediately, and either replaced or something else brought out. This happened even if the complaint was only that you didn't like the dish. The souffle was consistently delicious. The creme brulee was also delicious - more on that later. Taboulle was flavorful and delicious. We found that our food was always brought to us cold if it should be cold, and warm/hot if it should have been. Meats were cooked as ordered!!
We took the advice of many of the cruise critics, and tried the other restaurants. Our favorite was Le Bistro. The staff here were superior, although we rarely found any problems with any of the staff in the main dining rooms. The hostess truly went out of her way to ensure that our dining experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The chef sent out a couple of things that we didn't order - just "compliments of the chef" - and they were a treat! Earlier I noted that the swordfish in the main dining room was a little fishy. NOT SO at Le Bistro - where it was truly the best we have ever eaten! The duck was good as well. The escargot is also superior here to the main dining room. I said I would say more on the creme brulee - and I will. In the main dining room it was served with a chocolate ganache, and that was a delicious addition!! However, for the lovely presentation with the fruit basket, as it is served in Le Bistro - it gets full marks! The Chef sent out chocolate truffles that were soooooo delicious!! I make chocolate truffles, and have had some from people who are considered great chocolatiers - but these were superior!
Service/crew We had great service wherever we were on the ship. Ahmad and Marc were our room stewards, and they were always ready to do whatever to make us more comfortable and ensure that our cruise was enjoyable. All over the ship, people smile and speak politely to you, as they are busy polishing, etc. to keep the ship gleaming. Were there streak marks on the mirror? Yes, once - but we chose to ignore the little things, and just relax!
There was a disagreement with the purser's desk. They said at one point that our credit card was declined. When I called my bank, they told me that two authorizations had come through for $800 - and they questioned it because we had not told them we were leaving the country. My bank told me there was over $3000, so they wouldn't decline. Purser's desk told me that they had never sent this $800 through. Finally, I was able to use another card - and we are still waiting for the $800 to come off. My bank is watching this for me. Hope I don't have a problem about this, but will deal with that if I have to do so.
We were able to go to the meet and greet - thanks to Jake for setting that up! - and while there meeting several members of the crew, the captain invited us all to the bridge for a tour. That was a great experience - not to be missed!! I have read good things on these boards about John, Paul, and Captain Costas - I cannot say his real name, sorry. These crew members are approachable, genuine and delightful people!! They truly want to make your cruise everything it should be - magical!
Entertainment: One word: WOW! The Jean Ann Ryan Co. is professional and talented! We do not expect the onboard entertainment to rival shows we have seen on and off Broadway and in Europe - but these shows do just that. Alicia is a highlight every time she comes onto the stage - but the whole company is wonderfully gifted. The musicians are amazing - especially the saxophonist!! Even the poolside entertainment is really good. Don't - DO NOT - miss the Cirque du Soliel!! The comedian, Tom/Tim? Kaminsky is also a true headliner!
Shore Excursions: We just walked around in Roatan. We had planned to catch a taxi to a beach - but they were all expensive at the original parking lot. Later on we realized that we could have hired one off the beaten track for much less. However, by that time, we had spotted a small private beach right off the main road - and we had it to ourselves for the entire afternoon!
In Belize, we took the ship's tour to Lamanai. Tour guide that we had was knowledgeable about wildlife and birds, botany, and Mayan History! We were able to see howler monkeys, cormorants, igrets, herons - many types of birds. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in Lamanai, and what a view! Long day, but totally worth it!!
In Costa Maya, we had arranged to meet with David Villagomez, "The Native Choice" for a tour of Chacchoben. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!! David and Ivan are both Mayan, and Ivan's family actually lived at this site. This ruin was not excavated until the 1990s, and was not opened to the public until 2001. There was not a question asked thJust arrived home from a truly memorable cruise on NCL Jewel. This was our first NCL cruise, although we have cruised quite a bit on other lines. I was worried, having read some really negative reviews here. However, our experience was very favorable.
Embarkation: We arrived in FLL 2 hours later than scheduled, but still in plenty of time for SAS to get us to the port without problems. Having read here that SAS was a good bet, we tried them, and they did not disappoint. We did have to wait quite a while in the terminal before numbers were called, and this was perhaps because of the time change? I'm not sure. However, once numbers were called, the process was quick and smooth.
Photos: I have to say that most of the photos taken by ship's photographers were hurried, and not well done. We did not do a sitting, and that probably would have made a big difference in how they turned out. I was pleased that you could decline to have all the pictures taken at dinner, etc. In the past we have purchased photos, but didn't find a single one worth buying this trip.
Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. While it was smaller than some other lines, we found that the bathroom configuration of the space was superior, and the rest of the cabin very adequate. We could have used more drawer space, but that is a small matter, and the shelves accommodated extra things nicely. The beds are much more comfortable than we have experienced on other lines, and having broken a vertebra in my spine a little while before the cruise, a comfortable bed was much appreciated! We love having a balcony, and spend quite a bit of time on it; we always take binoculars, and so that makes viewing things from the balcony much more interesting. This time we saw flying fish several times, huge schools of fish at the surface, and birds diving for them - it made the water boil!! We also saw either a dolphin or a porpoise - don't know which. Of course, it is fun to observe other ships - tankers, container ships, yachts, and other cruise ships as well. Having that private space on a balcony is totally worth it to us, but we would probably still cruise and enjoy it without if we couldn't afford to have one.
Freestyle: Having never cruised NCL, and having enjoyed formal nights before, we thought we would miss them. However - I have to say that we loved the relaxed atmosphere and feel of freestyle!! We dressed up a little, but not at all black tie. It was just so relaxing to be able to do whatever we wanted. We were seated with others several nights, and left to ourselves on others. Met some great people, and were able to enjoy ourselves separately as well. A nice mix, and again - VERY RELAXING!! We were truly ON VACATION!!
Food/Beverage: We had planned to stop for soda and water before boarding, but it just didn't happen, because our flight was delayed so much. So we purchased a soda card - just one. I am much more addicted to soda than my husband, and so I became familiar with the bars. The woman who is in the Java Cafe mornings is a sweetheart - remembered that ice hurts my teeth - and was always a smiling beginning to my day!! We don't drink alcohol - so I cannot speak to how they manage wine service, etc. I do have to say that I never felt "nickeled and dimed" as I have frequently read as a complaint on this board. Did they try to sell raffle tickets at every show? Yes - and that happens on all the lines. Did bar staff go around the pool or on the beach offering drinks? Yes - and that also has happened on every cruiseline we have been on. Can't speak to the luxury cruiselines, because we have not done Seabourne, etc.
I know food is a pretty subjective thing; but I have worked in food service at one of the premiere hotels when I was young. I have a feel for what should happen - even in large banquet service. We ate breakfast either in Blue Lagoon or the Garden Cafe. The omelet stations are still there, and they are really good! They also have eggs benedict in Garden Cafe - something I didn't expect! One time the English Muffin was pretty tough - must have been sitting a while - but otherwise none of the breakfast items we tried were disappointing. We tried Tsar's, Azura, and the Garden Cafe for lunch, and could always find something refreshing and delicious. Dinners, we mostly ate at Tsar's. The lobster was tough, but difficult to serve that many and have a different outcome, I think. Swordfish was a little fishy - but okay. Once, my turkey scallopini was a little burned. If you complained, it was addressed immediately, and either replaced or something else brought out. This happened even if the complaint was only that you didn't like the dish. The souffle was consistently delicious. The creme brulee was also delicious - more on that later. Taboulle was flavorful and delicious. We found that our food was always brought to us cold if it should be cold, and warm/hot if it should have been. Meats were cooked as ordered!!
We took the advice of many of the cruise critics, and tried the other restaurants. Our favorite was Le Bistro. The staff here were superior, although we rarely found any problems with any of the staff in the main dining rooms. The hostess truly went out of her way to ensure that our dining experience was thoroughly enjoyed. The chef sent out a couple of things that we didn't order - just "compliments of the chef" - and they were a treat! Earlier I noted that the swordfish in the main dining room was a little fishy. NOT SO at Le Bistro - where it was truly the best we have ever eaten! The duck was good as well. The escargot is also superior here to the main dining room. I said I would say more on the creme brulee - and I will. In the main dining room it was served with a chocolate ganache, and that was a delicious addition!! However, for the lovely presentation with the fruit basket, as it is served in Le Bistro - it gets full marks! The Chef sent out chocolate truffles that were soooooo delicious!! I make chocolate truffles, and have had some from people who are considered great chocolatiers - but these were superior!
Service/crew We had great service wherever we were on the ship. Ahmad and Marc were our room stewards, and they were always ready to do whatever to make us more comfortable and ensure that our cruise was enjoyable. All over the ship, people smile and speak politely to you, as they are busy polishing, etc. to keep the ship gleaming. Were there streak marks on the mirror? Yes, once - but we chose to ignore the little things, and just relax!
There was a disagreement with the purser's desk. They said at one point that our credit card was declined. When I called my bank, they told me that two authorizations had come through for $800 - and they questioned it because we had not told them we were leaving the country. My bank told me there was over $3000, so they wouldn't decline. Purser's desk told me that they had never sent this $800 through. Finally, I was able to use another card - and we are still waiting for the $800 to come off. My bank is watching this for me. Hope I don't have a problem about this, but will deal with that if I have to do so.
We were able to go to the meet and greet - thanks to Jake for setting that up! - and while there meeting several members of the crew, the captain invited us all to the bridge for a tour. That was a great experience - not to be missed!! I have read good things on these boards about John, Paul, and Captain Costas - I cannot say his real name, sorry. These crew members are approachable, genuine and delightful people!! They truly want to make your cruise everything it should be - magical!
Entertainment: One word: WOW! The Jean Ann Ryan Co. is professional and talented! We do not expect the onboard entertainment to rival shows we have seen on and off Broadway and in Europe - but these shows do just that. Alicia is a highlight every time she comes onto the stage - but the whole company is wonderfully gifted. The musicians are amazing - especially the saxophonist!! Even the poolside entertainment is really good. Don't - DO NOT - miss the Cirque du Soliel!! The comedian, Tom/Tim? Kaminsky is also a true headliner!
Shore Excursions: We just walked around in Roatan. We had planned to catch a taxi to a beach - but they were all expensive at the original parking lot. Later on we realized that we could have hired one off the beaten track for much less. However, by that time, we had spotted a small private beach right off the main road - and we had it to ourselves for the entire afternoon!
In Belize, we took the ship's tour to Lamanai. Tour guide that we had was knowledgeable about wildlife and birds, botany, and Mayan History! We were able to see howler monkeys, cormorants, igrets, herons - many types of birds. We climbed to the top of the pyramid in Lamanai, and what a view! Long day, but totally worth it!!
In Costa Maya, we had arranged to meet with David Villagomez, "The Native Choice" for a tour of Chacchoben. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!! David and Ivan are both Mayan, and Ivan's family actually lived at this site. This ruin was not excavated until the 1990s, and was not opened to the public until 2001. There was not a question asked that David didn't know the answer! The man's knowledge of Mayan history, the ruins, the religious philosophy, the daily life, the plant and animal life there is encyclopedic!! Our tour lasted twice as long as the other tours there - but we came away with a burning desire to visit again and learn more about this important archaeological at David didn't know the answer! The man's knowledge of Mayan history, the ruins, the religious philosophy, the daily life, the plant and animal life there is encyclopedic!! Our tour lasted twice as long as the other tours there - but we came away with a burning desire to visit again and learn more about this important archaeological find! David also told us of a new dig that may be even more important than this - where we will also visit in the future!
Our ship was able to tender us in to GSC, and we spent about 3 hours snorkeling there. You are forced to wear a small life vest, and that was a little frustrating, because then it is very difficult to do any diving for a closer look! However, lots of things to see if you took your time, and let the fish come out, rather than hiding in the rocks, etc.
Other passengers: This ship had a great mix of ages. I love seeing children enjoying themselves, and most of the time the kids we saw were very well-behaved. This was a spring break cruise for college kids, and that was good to see. Of course, Kev and I fit in with the approaching seniors - but most that we saw were still very active and willing to try.
I have to say one thing. At the first port and also the last before GSC, we saw people escorted off the ship. I don't know what the woman who was escorted off in Costa Maya did - but a couple a few doors down from our cabin was escorted off in Roatan for smoking pot in their cabin. People - just don't be stupid!! Keep your illegal substances and activities at home, and just have a great vacation!!
Overall experience/evaluation: Will we cruise with NCL in the future?? You betcha!! This cruise made it hard to come home to work! But hey - we work, so that we can save for the next cruise!
 
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BB 10020
10020 - category BB. Great cabin! Quiet location. Long walk to most dining options - but that was an advantage for us!
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins