The last time my husband and I cruised was over 20 years ago. Boy, has cruising changed a lot! Embarkation was very good. My husband pulled up to the port shortly after 11 am and we all got out of the car and unloaded all the luggage. A worker came over and immediately loaded our stuff up on the cart and I tipped him. My husband pulled away and parked the car. (parking $112 per week) We went inside the building to check in. I brought lanyard necklaces that the kids and I beaded at home to hang our room keys on. The guests services desk on deck 7 punched a hole in our key card for us. It was convenient wearing our key cards around our necks. (plus our pretty beaded necklaces that we made looked nice) Embarkation process went smoothly and we were eating at the buffet by 11:30.
Our cabin was an inside cabin on deck 8. Very nice. The 4 of us were comfortable. I had the steward empty the refrigerator and we filled it with bottled water that we brought from home. We carried on a case that was well labeled with our name and cabin number and it arrived safely to our cabin with no problems. The ship water is excellent to drink. We wanted the water bottles for our excursions. Bathroom was a good size. I brought a fan, electrical power strip, and a night light for the cabin that was very helpful. I also brought a clear plastic over the door shoe holder that I hung on the bathroom door. It has 24 clear pockets that held all our toiletries and stuff. That helped the cabin not to be cluttered with junk. Beds were comfortable. Room was always freshened up when we were away.
The food was excellent. We went to the buffet for breakfast and lunch and to the dining room at night. The buffet was delicious. A nice variety. We loved it! We ate dinner at the Venetian every night except the last night we ate at the Aqua. Food and service were excellent. We also had a meal and snacks at the Blue Lagoon (24 hr) and the food and service were excellent. We didn't eat at any specialty restaurants.
Entertainment is very good. We saw the early show every night at 7:30. Our kids didn't participate in the kids club programs. They would have had to be separated because of their age difference. They would rather hang out with each other or with us. We did allow our children to roam around the ship alone during the day. They knew our rules, the ships rules, and were well behaved. (according to other passengers and the staff) We felt they were safe. They had their room key, knew where to find us, and more importantly where the food was!
I loved the photography service on the boat. I coordinated our clothes each night for pictures. Great photos! Hint: In the beginning of the week ask someone at the photo desk to start a "hold folder" for you. Each day pick up your photos off the wall and add to the folder. Accumulate all week. The last day they had a special on pictures (free photos, free wallets) and then you will have lots of pictures to pick from. Also, when I went home I scanned the photos and submitted them to Walmart for copies. Walmart initially refused because I needed a copyright release from NCL. So, I called NCL customer service and within seconds I had a NCL copyright release for the photos in my email. Printed and presented it to Walmart and got my pictures. That was easy!
Bermuda was beautiful. Day 1: We went to Horseshoe Bay Beach. We took the bus which was $4.00 for adults each way and $2.00 for the kids each way. Water was warm with lots of waves. The kids snorkeled and swam. We brought our own snorkeling stuff from home. For snacks brought water bottles and bags of trail mix. We also had some little cereal boxes from breakfast too. FYI: If you take food off the ship you will be fined. (meats, fruits, and a list of more things) They didn't have a problem with the cereal boxes or trail mix because they were SEALED. I recommend bringing stuff from home: granola, goldfish, chewy treats, etc. to bring on excursions if you have kids. Snacks were expensive to purchase. Just make sure everything is new and sealed before leaving the boat. Day 2: We took the ferry to Hamilton. It is a 20 minute ride and is the same price as the bus. Beautiful city. We walked (15 minutes) from the marina to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. (BUEI) Nice interactive museum for children. We did some souvenir shopping on the walk back to the marina and came back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we went to the National Museum of Bermuda at the Dockyard. Lots of history and photo ops there. Day 3: We explored the Dockyard in the morning. We rode the free trolley around the Dockyard. Window shopped. Went to the Clocktower Mall and purchased souvenirs and stood at the official tip of the Bermuda triangle! Went to lunch back on the ship. Finally, our afternoon activity had to be close and short because the boat was leaving at 5:00. We went to Snorkel Park that was walking distance to the boat. It cost us $5.00 each to get in. Nice beach. Water was very warm and no waves. Mostly everyone there was from the cruise ships. My husband and kids snorkeled. I just relaxed in the water. Lots of kids there. Great beach for kids because it was shallow water, warm, no waves, bathrooms available, concession stands, and a short walk or free trolley ride back to the boat. Nice way to end our stay in Bermuda.
Overall our vacation was excellent. The ship was great. We are not picky people and we are easy to please. Not everything was perfect all the time and the kids had their "moments". Nobody was sick and nobody got injured. (thank goodness) So to me, a vacation is NOT having to cook, clean, nurse an illness, taxi the kids everywhere, etc. That is exactly what I got!