We chose this cruise when invited by friends of ours who sailed with NCL on many cruises. It was the first time I had ever been on a cruise ship this large. I was wondering what it would be like to sail with 4000 other people but ... Read More
We chose this cruise when invited by friends of ours who sailed with NCL on many cruises. It was the first time I had ever been on a cruise ship this large. I was wondering what it would be like to sail with 4000 other people but thankfully there wasn't too much traffic.
Here's how our cruise went:
Very smooth as we were told to check-in in Terminal 2, which was pretty much empty when we arrived. After getting our cards, we followed the other guests and got on the ship rather quickly. As our rooms were not ready, it allowed us to explore the many decks of the ship.
Pool area (Deck 15):
Yes, it can get crowded when we are 4000 people together so if you want some sun, be sure to go out early and grab your deck chairs. There is also a stage for music as well as wacky participation events such as Mr. Sexy Legs and Ms. Biceps
The pool area also has a walled smoking room but anyone nearby can smell smoke so if you are sensitive, do not plan to lounge in that area. There are also ping pong tables around if you want to be a bit more active. Again, it can be a challenge to find a time when a table is free.
Garden Cafe (Deck 15):
Connected to the pool area is the Garden Cafe buffet. It served OK food and there are many choices at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner had a different theme night (e.g. Russian, Italian, Scandinavian) every night to have some variety.
The Fitness Center & Spa (Deck 15):
Connected to the other end of the pool area is the spa and fitness center. The spa offers a full range of services, including acupuncture. The fitness centre offers machines, weights, and classes.
Physical Activity Choices:
The ship is impressive that it offers mini-golf (nine hole), ropes course, trampoline, spider slide, rock climbing, a jogging track, and a basketball court.
The Tropicana Room:
This is the main dining room, with a dance floor in the middle for people to dance while dining with live music usually playing at dinner.
The Tradewinds shops:
For such a large ship, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of shopping choices. On a positive note, with so little to buy, I saved money in this aspect! The shops had special sales events and even a Russian Bazaar night as the days progressed.
I appreciated the non-pushy attitude by the photographers as well as the sales staff for the printed photos. It was entirely up to you if you wanted to pose for photos and to buy the prints afterwards. A sample 8 X 10 print will cost you $24.95 USD.
The casino has table games, slots, as well as blackjack tournaments, and slots tournaments. Betting is in US dollars and no gaming is permitted while at any port.
This is a nice hidden restaurant that runs 24/7 and is rarely ever crowded during the whole cruise. If you are hungry and just want food, and don't really care what they serve, come here to beat the crowds elsewhere. The restaurant is like a pub so there are also games like pool, darts, and even bowling to pass the time.
The Atrium (deck 6):
This is the center of the ship. Here, you will find Guest Services, Starbucks, the Internet stations, games room, library, and meeting rooms, as well as the two-storey big screen, stage area and chairs. The cruise director's staff have all sort of games (e.g. trivia, deal or no deal, bingo) pretty much every hour for entertainment. It is rarely crowded during the day but a huge draw at night.
This is a room designed like a comedy club, with an intimate stage but any act can perform in here
Syd Norman's Pour House:
This is another small venue but does feature almost nightly karaoke (note that their song list is very limited) as well as regular performances by Switch (a tribute band of songs from the 1980s mostly)
SugarCane Mojito Bar and Ice Bar:
These are specialty bars located on deck 8, one floor above the casino. Sugarcane also features live music at night. Seating is limited so get there early.
This is the main theatre where performance of "Million Dollar Quartet" and "Burn the Floor" are performed.
Deck 8 walkaround:
Deck 8 allows people to walk outside pretty much around the whole length of the ship. There are plenty of chairs around to take in the scenery as the ship sails.
This is a restaurant that will charge $15 USD per person for a limited Magaritaville-type menu (just best-selling items). The portions are large and well cooked so $15 was a steal compared to how much a visit to a traditional Magaritaville would cost.
Cruise Director and his staff:
For such a large ship, Francesco and his assistant Lester worked very hard to be visible here, there, and everywhere throughout the cruise. Special mention also to all his staff who had to be able to entertain people sitting in the atrium with the latest activity of the hour. The activities also come with a participation card, the more activities you participate in, the better NCL merchandise you can claim at the end of the cruise (such as T-shirt, key chain, koozie, etc.)
They were pricey but the tour operators used were well-organized, professional, and knowledgeable.
a. Funky Duo: This is a husband-and-wife team from Romania. They can sing pretty much anything. Andreea's (yes, it is spelled this way) singing voice is something that you just need to hear.
b. Karl Loxley: Karl was a finalist on the Voice UK. His performance was breathtaking at times.
c. RAEGAR: Another husband-and-wife: he's from the UK while she's from Texas. They both have amazing voices.
It can be a long wait depending on where you are going after leaving the ship (e.g. on your own, to the airport, to the city, etc.). You do have the option of disembarking with your luggage if you want but be warned the wait for the elevators on disembarkation day can be long (some elevators are put out of service).
1. There seems to be a service charge on almost everything. Purchase additional items/services carefully.
2. Even if you are a couple in your cabin, you each have your own account. I could not understand why we kept getting messages about a credit amount when the total of my wife's and my account did not show that. It turned out the accounts cannot be combined so I wound up owing them money while my wife got a refund for her credit amount.
3. The Do Not Disturb cabin light will mean just that. I had forgotten to turn it off before leaving for an excursion and we came back to a room that had not been cleaned and made-up. We had to ask after-hours service (as it was after 9 PM) to get the room made, which they did to our delight.
4. Ship internet is very expensive, such as $125 USD for 250 minutes. However, you can still connect to the wi-fi and use the NCL app free of charge to be able to have the day's schedule on your phone. Read Less