My husband and I are in our Mid 40's and this was our 6th cruise, 2nd with NCL. We flew from Maine to NYC on Friday and stayed at Hotel Novetel in Times Square. Did the OnBoard "See it All Tour NYC" (highly recommended). On ... Read More
My husband and I are in our Mid 40's and this was our 6th cruise, 2nd with NCL. We flew from Maine to NYC on Friday and stayed at Hotel Novetel in Times Square. Did the OnBoard "See it All Tour NYC" (highly recommended). On Saturday at noon, NCL shuttled us to the pier.
Embarkation - Went smooth, even though it was a long line of passengers ahead of us. Once we got our boarding pass/room card, we went directly on the ship. As soon as we got on the ship, we asked an NCL staff member where the Tsars dining room was. She said to us the Garden Cafe was that way. My husband said "OK, where was the Tsars dining room?" Then she pointed in the opposite direction. LOL. Once we were in the dining room, we were surprised there was less than 50 people in there. This was around 1 pm. Lunch was good and before we were done, an announcement was made that our room was ready.
Cabin -- We had a balcony 10th floor in the front of the ship. The room was adequate and clean. The bathroom was more than big enough. The bed was very comfortable and we loved the pillows. People had made comments that the TV was very outdated, but for the amount of time we actually used it, it was fine for us. Our room steward, Mariano, which my husband made the mistake and greeted as Ricardo once (LOL) was very nice and accommodating. We were impressed that he remembered our names when he greeted us everyday. Each night, he would make us a unique towel animal that we had never seen on prior cruises. Very impressive.
Food -- We ate breakfast in the garden cafe most mornings, we found it to be very good. The omelets that were made to order were very good. We liked the homefries. My hubby liked the orange juice they had. We did find the coffee everywhere to be a little weak, but we do like it strong. We ate in the Main dining rooms 4 of the 7 nights. We found the food to be very good at both dining venues. We really thought the fried spring rolls with dipping sauce were outstanding. The potato and cheddar soup and cream of broccoli was very good. Main course, we thought the strip steak and baked potato which is available everynight was good. Hubby had pot roast one night. He said it was flavorful, but very dry. I enjoyed the pasta dishes. Hubby tried the spaghetti carbonara for the first time and loved it. The last night, we both had prime rib. Hubby asked for an end cut and liked it. We didn't care too much for the selection of desserts. I did like the cheese cake. We resorted to ice cream with chocolate sauce most nights. On the first night, we had reservations for Mama's Italian. We shared a pizza as an appetizer, half pepperoni, half chicken and spinach. It was very delicious. Main course, hubby had the chicken parm which was excellent. I had Penne and Meatballs and I had wished I got more pizza instead. I thought the meatballs where very dry. The tiramisu and flourless chocolate cake were outstanding. On Thursday, we went to LeBistro and ordered cream of mushroom soup and onion soup. We both enjoyed it. We both ordered the Filet Mignon and thought it was delicious. Hubby ordered the CrÃ¨me Broule. He thought it was excellent. I ordered the Flourless Chocolate cake and thought it was the best dessert I ever had. Highly recommend this restaurant. Definitely worth the price of $20 each.
We tried Blue Lagoon a few times and liked the roasted tomato soup. Thanks to the past reviews we read, we went during the day to try the hot brownie sundae. It was delicious.
Entertainment -- We had went to every show in the evening except the hypmotist because we got in late from Universal Studios on Monday. The first night was the Welcome Aboard show. It was very entertaining. The second night was the Band on the Run which was really good. The fourth night was Duo Eleglia. We were amazed at the arial acrobatics. They even showed a video of them when they first met and got married. It added a personal touch to the show. The fifth night was JP, the comedian/magician. We had a lot of laughs. We liked how he did his comic/magic while interacting with crowd which was very cool. The sixth night was LeCirque Bijoux. This was a combination of Due Eleglia and the NCL dancers. We thought they very talented Cirque performers. The last night was the Variety show. This was a combination of JP comedy/magic and the NCL cast performing music of Abba. At the end of the show, the cruise director and department heads performed a comical act as well. Very enjoyable.
Being a Beatles historian, my husband was pleasantly surprised that the band Next Stage was performing a Beatles tribute one night in the Atrium. We went and sat at the Blue Lagoon, which is upstairs with an open view of the band. They played everything from Meet the Beatles to Abbey Road. It was a great time. The band was very good.
Casino -- Every night after the shows, we went to the casino and played our favorite table game Three Card Poker. The first two days we did very well. We were up $1,100, but the following three days not so good, down $400. The last two days, we made a nice comeback to finish the week only down $300. Over the course of the week, we hit 6 three of a kinds and 4 straight flushes. The entire casino staff was very friendly and we got to meet some interesting/nice people. We were surprised to see the same casino supervisor, Cecelia that we met last year on the Epic. She even remembered us.
Ports of Call -- Port Canaveral -- we took a bus through NCL to Universal Studios and spent the day at Islands of Adventure. We had been there many times before, so we knew which rides we wanted to do. They had updated the Spider man ride, which was awesome. We also got drenched going on Jurassic Park. Thankfully, we did that ride in the beginning, so we were able to dry off quickly. This time we got to experience the Harry Potter ride. A very long line, but it was constantly moving and it was well worth the wait. The ride was unbelievable. Highly recommended. Great Stirrup Cay -- This was our first time going there. The tender was a little hairy even though it was a nice day. We spent a few hours at the island just laying in the sun and enjoying the water. We were very impressed at how clean it was. We went back to the ship early to spend some time by the pool with it not being so crowded. Nassau -- we did the Discover Atlantis and Beach Break through NCL. We took a shuttle van over to Atlantis and the tour guide gave us a quick review of where we could and couldn't explore. We ended at the Atlantis beach near the ocean. Even though it was a beautiful day, it was very windy and the water current was strong. We then went over to the Atlantis lagoon which was much more calm. Had a couple of drinks and stayed a few hours and had a good time. We got a lot of nice pictures of the resort and the dig area. Beautiful resort!
Disembarkment -- Before disembarkment, we were able to wake up early enough to get some really nice pictures of the NYC skyline when the ship came into the harbor. We were waiting to hear our Aqua tags to be called over the intercom. When it was finally called, it was about 20 minutes later than scheduled. Once off the ship, we were able to find our luggage pretty easily, but then we had to wait in a long line to go through customs. We had paid NCL for a shuttle to the airport. This was a little disorganized because the shuttle was not properly labeled so we had walked by it at first.
I would have to say that my husband and I really enjoyed this cruise thoroughly. I really think it was the combination of the NYC port, NCL staff/entertainment, and the weather that made this cruise very enjoyable. I am definitely planning our next trip to be on the Gem next year. Read Less