My family had not been on a cruise since summer of 2019 when we had a fabulous time on the NCL Joy. Since the kids had the full week of Thanksgiving off, we decided we were overdue for a cruise. We had been on the Breakaway out of New York in 2014 so we were familiar with the ship already. Plus we had never been to New Orleans so that was a bonus. We got a great deal on airfare through NCL and I like the Free at Sea promotions so we booked it.
We arrived the night before and stayed at a hotel directly across the street. Embarkation was kind of crowded and chaotic. Not as bad as New York, but not nearly as smooth as Seattle. We eventually made it onboard and quickly booked our shows at the box office. There was hardly any wait and we were able to get everything we wanted. Then we signed the kids up for Splash Academy and Entourage. After a decent, but slow lunch in Savor, our stateroom was ready.
The ship departed New Orleans 2.5 hours late with no explanation that we heard. We could have easily missed an announcement, but sail away in the dark and cold is not nearly as fun as it typically is. The weather was rough so my 12-year-old suffered from seasickness for most of the first sea day. That night, we enjoyed Cagney's for the first time. It was "fine"; not as wonderful as I had been led to believe, but good. My husband and son both had lobster bisque. My daughter and I did not. The next day, both my husband and son complained they felt a little off. Our arrival at Costa Maya was delayed (no surprise since we left late to begin with). It got later and later. Our originally anticipated arrival at 11 AM had been replaced with a promise of a 1 PM arrival which soon turned into 2:30. We had booked a beach day which seemed to grow increasingly futile by the minute. We eventually disembarked, took a super sketchy cab ride into town and arrived at our reserved beach spot. Much more run down than advertised, but we only had an hour and a half anyway. We soon returned back to the ship and that's when my husband and son were struck by a 24 hour stomach bug. I presume it was food poisoning since they had eaten the same thing and my daughter and I never got it. Nothing makes a small stateroom for four smaller than two people taking turns being sick!
We booked a mid-ship Balcony Suite (since re-named Club Balcony Suite). We remembered the tight quarters, but I didn't remember all the beds being so uncomfortable. Even the actual beds were hard as rocks. The room had ample storage for four of us. We hung our nicer clothes, then used our suitcases as dressers under the bed. There was lots of storage under the coach as well. The bathroom was nice with plenty of storage, but there was no bar soap, no conditioner and no lotion. Our cabin steward was able to track down bar soap and conditioner, but we were without body lotion. It was frustrating because I could have easily packed some if I had known. We did request towel animals which our cabin steward sweetly provided. (Hint . . . to make them as fun as possible, leave sunglasses/props available for the cabin steward to use.)