This was our 6th or 7th NCL cruise (I have lost count), but our first in several years, our first on the larger of NCL's ships, and our first Holiday cruise. Embarkation was fast and efficient, especially when contrasted to 2+ hours ... Read More
This was our 6th or 7th NCL cruise (I have lost count), but our first in several years, our first on the larger of NCL's ships, and our first Holiday cruise. Embarkation was fast and efficient, especially when contrasted to 2+ hours standing in line for our September cruise on MSC Meraviglia. Debarkation and re-embarkation at ports was also fast and efficient. We did not have any tendering ports. First day was a bit chaotic, as many discovered that reservations were useful to assure dining times in both main restaurants and shows. After the first day we (party of 2 or 4) were able to walk right in to the main dining room without reservations, except at peak times. Food at the main dining rooms was good, but the days of escargot and lobster are gone. Food at the buffet was good, not great. Our son and grandson are vegetarian, and we found that many dishes were mislabeled, or not labeled at all, and dishes that are commonly vegetarian often were not (fettuccine alfredo, squash soup had added bacon, most salads could have meat to add on the side but instead had it mixed in). Fortunately, grandson can almost live on mashed potatoes. We did not use specialty restaurants, but I heard both rave reviews and comments that main dining room was better.
Ship layout had many specialty restaurants and small venues, narrow hallways with passage from forward to aft on decks 6, 7 (through smoky casino), and 8. The 3 deck spiral staircase and chandelier went through the casino, so smoke traveled to all 3 levels. Walls in the commons areas were dark colored with subdued lighting, making for a feel some would call cozy but seemed dingy to me. Venues for the popular shows (game shows, pool parties, Queen tribute, Comedy club) were too small. The 2 main pools were small, but the cold one was never crowded. 4 hot tubs in the main pool area were nearly always crowded. Grandson liked the water slides and harness course, but lines for the course were usually very long.
Entertainment was good and bad. Cirque de Solei was good, but pricy at $47.99. The meal was good but not much better than the free main dining rooms. They did offer a vegetarian option, but it was items son and grandson did not like. Small music venues were good, and Howl at the Moon was great. We were rightfully warned that Rock of Ages was for mature audiences, but were still unprepared for the raunchyness of the show. The audience seemed to like Burn the Floor, but to me it was too loud, too fast, to flashy, and too much repetition of the same dance steps with just different costumes.
Drink servers and photographers were attentive, but not aggressive and obnoxious as we have experienced on previous cruises. Soft drinks were in cups, not cans. We signed up for the $9.95 pp talk and text cell phone service through the ship's wi-fi system, but it was worse than useless, as it failed to work when we needed it most, and it does not work if you try to share an account. Cabin service was adequate, but far less than any previous cruise - No towel animals, no turn down with chocolate, daily minimal service.
At Costa Maya we booked a tour of Chacchoben Mayan ruins with Native Choice. Anthropologist guide Ivan was a local of Mayan heritage, and was OUTSTANDING. Excellent tour.
As a manmade Harvest Caye is very well-done, beautiful foliage, nice beaches, ziplines and rope course, local vendors (bring cash or credit card), and the world's best chocolate (chocolate was invented by the Mayas using local cacao). We took the ferry to Placencia to connect with relatives for a nice snorkel trip to Laughing Bird Caye. The only downside was that the passenger ferry left late and returned early for a very abbreviated shore time, as ships tour passengers got priority. Read Less