I have wanted to take a cruise for many years. There were four in my group. My sister and I were in a balcony cabin near the center of Deck 10. My brother and his wife had an inside cabin on the same deck. My sister and I chose a ... Read More
I have wanted to take a cruise for many years. There were four in my group. My sister and I were in a balcony cabin near the center of Deck 10. My brother and his wife had an inside cabin on the same deck. My sister and I chose a balcony cabin to take advantage of the 5 "free" offers: airfare, 250 internet minutes, Premium Beverage Package (unlimited drinks up to $15 each per day), $50/port/cabin excursion credit, 3 Meal Specialty Dining Package. We felt it was a good value for our budget.
I had made a checklist of what to do after boarding, based on other people’s recommendations online. We headed to Deck 6 to change one specialty dining reservation and reserve a date and time for the go karts. Next we went to the Atrium to the Internet Desk to arrange for our NCL text & talk feature and get instructions for using our 250 minutes of internet time. BEWARE: The most important direction was to log off after using it. My sister did not do that on our third day, so we lost all of our minutes.
Next we found our cabin. It wasn’t ready, but we met our steward Elan and dropped off our carry-ons. Elan seemed to be in the hallway almost every time I was in it, whether that was morning, afternoon, or evening. After our first meeting, he greeted us by name and asked what we were doing that day or evening. He also asked us about those things if we saw him later or the next day. Amazing! He was always happy, remembered any special requests we made, and was one of the reasons I enjoyed my cruise so much.
After a late, light lunch in the buffet, we returned to our cabin, which was ready.
THE ENTRY: At the entry was a master light control, activated by inserting my cruise card. The bathroom was in a short hallway past the door. There were two hooks on the wall outside the bathroom. There was a panel above the light control which activated lights outside the door so we could indicate when we were in the room, when we did not want to be disturbed, and when the room was empty and could be cleaned.
THE BATHROOM: The curved glass shower was large enough to be comfortable and had shelves. The only thing I had to get used to was stepping UP, because the bathroom was one step higher than the cabin. I tripped several times before I got it right. The counter extended from the sink down the long wall. The long wall with the sink and counter had a wall-sized mirror above with two narrow shelves, storage under the sink, and two wider shelves below the mirror. There were two hooks on the door.
THE MAIN PART OF THE CABIN: Our single beds were separated by a bit of space. We each had a small nightstand with two shelves below and a lighted sconce with USB charging port above. Opposite the bed nearer the balcony was a shelf with magazines and an LCD TV above. On the wall next to the bed nearer to the balcony was a couch. Opposite the couch was a huge mirror that extended to the TV. There was a deep counter with a bench for seating, a small fridge, (which we did not use), and a deep angled storage unit. Above the counter were two narrow shelves and a plug in for my non-surge multi plug adapter. The closet was spacious with more than enough hanging space, hangers (I brought some of my clothes on hangers), and a floor-to-ceiling deep shelving unit. Maneuvering between the foot of one of the beds and the TV took some getting used to, but that was a minor issue.
THE BALCONY: There was a large sliding door to access the balcony. It had two chairs and a table. I really appreciated having a balcony, even though I didn’t spend a lot of time sitting there.
OVERALL: I was very pleased with our choice of a balcony cabin, especially for my first cruise. The cabin had more than enough storage space for everything we brought.
ENCORE THEATER: We booked two shows online when the reservations became available. The Encore Theater is huge, and we got in line early to have good seats. First we saw Choir of Man. It was fabulous! High energy and wonderful singing and dancing. You could easily see how much fun the performers were having. Then we saw the musical Kinky Boots. I did not realize that was a true story, although I did know the music was written by Cindi Lauper. It was a marvelous story with wonderful acting, singing, and dancing and spectacular costumes. Both of these shows were the equal of any show I have seen on Broadway.
THE DISTRICT: We saw Jim Badger, a pianist, singer, and comedian. It was crowded, but we found seats and had a good time.
THE ATRIUM: We saw several different bands and a pianist/singer. All the entertainment was excellent, and the Atrium is a beautiful and comfortable place with a nice atmosphere for enjoying music.
COMEDY CLUB: We went to the Comedy Club four times to see shows. Sometimes we had reserved seats, and sometimes we waited in the standby line but had no trouble getting in. The front row was always open, so that is where we chose to sit. A show would consist of the female warm-up act and one of two male comedians. They were all funny and provided great entertainment. Mike Blaustein was particularly hilarious and had the amazing ability to learn about people in the audience and use them throughout his act, but never in an embarrassing way. He was so funny that we saw him twice. Since he used material gathered by getting to know audience members, we didn’t see the same show twice. The last night they appeared together and featured all new material.
POOL DECK: I am not a person who enjoys sitting in the sun by the pool, but did enjoy sitting in the shade reading on the pool deck. I also found many activities to take advantage of during the day. I watched numerous game shows and trivia contests, a fruit/vegetable carving demonstration, a napkin folding demonstration, dance classes to watch or participate in, etc.
LATE-NIGHT POOL PARTIES: I went to the glow/white party and one other one. Although I didn’t get in the middle of the crowd and whoop it up, I enjoyed watching from a distance for a bit.
MISC: One day I went to the Encore Theater to see a presentation about the ship and various facts about the ship and what is consumed during a one-week cruise. Then the Captain, Chief Engineer, and head of the hospitality part of the ship answered questions. It was very informative and interesting.
GO KARTS: I drove my first go kart on the ship. We had to first put on a ski-type mask with an opening for our eyes, nose, and mouth. Unfortunately, while removing it, I also removed one of the new silver earrings I had purchased on my last trip, and I didn’t notice it until much later. The helmet went over this mask. The pressure of the helmet made the mask keep sliding down over my eyes while I was driving, making it difficult to see. Getting into the go kart was quite a feat, because it was a tight fit, and I don’t bend as well as I used to. This was my first time driving a go kart, and I admit that I was not the fastest and didn’t always go as close to the wall as I should have. As a result, I was intentionally hit several times, once so hard that I bounced off the wall. I don’t know why they bothered telling us this wasn’t allowed if they were unwilling to enforce their own rules. However, I still enjoyed it. The ride was 8-10 minutes long. I would be willing to try go karts again in a less aggressive environment.
FIESTA LATINA (San Juan, Puerto Rico): We boarded a bus and drove a short distance to the restaurant where the show was held. We were each given a glass of sangria. The flamenco guitarist was absolutely amazing and had wonderful stories to tell. At times he was very funny. The three female dancers were OK, but just repeated the same swirly twirly dances in different dresses. The show might have been better without them. I would have been disappointed had I paid full $79 price for the show. However, I had a $50 excursion credit to use in San Juan, and that reduced the cost of the $79 show to $29. So I was glad I did the excursion.
TREE LIMIN’ EXTREME (St. Peter): I met the rest of the zip line excursion participants on the pier. We were escorted to our bus and met the driver Patrick. We drove up, up, up a narrow, twisting road that often provided gorgeous views. This is the an award winning zipline park which exceeds industry safety standards, and the guides are highly trained professionals. It has six ziplines, including a “yo-yo” zip at the end, and two rope bridges. After checking in, we met our tour guides. They outfitted us with our personal safety equipment and gave us instruction on the gear. As we arrived at each departure platforms, we received safety information for that platform, including how the guides would set us up to start and slow us down at the end. On various platforms we saw gorgeous views. It was obvious that safety was their number one priority. In spite of the fact that I knew it was safe, I was absolutely terrified. I was by far the oldest person in our group of nine. After I explained that I was doing this for the first time and to celebrate my 70th birthday in May, the encouragement and praise I received from the guides and from the group members kept me going. I have never done anything extreme before. This definitely put my tenacity to the test. I am glad I did it.
ISLAND BEACH BREAK (Tortola, British Virgin Islands): We went to the pier to meet the excursion bus for our excursion. We boarded a bus with open sides and took a narrow, twisty road up the mountain and back down to the other side. The ride provided beautiful views of Tortola. When we arrived at the beach, we rented chairs and umbrellas for $15 and were shown to our assigned spot. You could sit in the sun or the shade. In addition to enjoying reading in the shade under my umbrella while watching the beautiful water, I explored the shops along the beach. I was very glad we did this excursion.
FOOD: I ate at three specialty restaurants, all three complimentary restaurants, the buffet, The Locale (the 24/7 restaurant), and the Observation Lounge. I wish I had ordered dessert first. Most of the time I did not have room for dessert and did not want to become uncomfortable. All the food, including the breakfast and lunch buffets I tried a couple of times, was excellent. My best bite might have been the carrot cake at The Local. The service was 5* and outstanding, as good as any service I have had at any high-end restaurant.
BARS/LOUNGES: My go-to favorites turned out to be the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, the Observation Lounge, and the Atrium Bar. Yes, sometimes I had to wait for service, just as I might have to on any busy night on shore. The bartenders worked like demons trying to keep up, and I appreciated their professionalism. I tried many kinds of cocktails on the various cocktail menus, and all were tasty. Since I had a drink package, I appreciated being able to get nonalcoholic drinks throughout the day and evening. The Observation Lounge was one of my favorite places to relax and read.
SERVICE: Everyone I met was gracious, eager to serve, and provided excellent service.
NOTE: I am so grateful that I got a prescription for scopolamine patches before I left home. I am so susceptible to motion sickness, and this ship rocks and rolls, sometimes more than others. It is especially noticeable in a small area, such as a bathroom. Occasionally, we were in rougher water, which exacerbates the movement. The scopolamine patches saved me. I had no seasickness. Read Less