November 20, 2005
We chose this cruise as Brits because it started in NYC and our son lives in NJ so we could combine the cruise with a stay with him. The cruise went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Roatan (Honduras), Belize City, Cozumel, Nassau and back to NYC. Good itinerary, as we had not been to Belize or Roatan before.
Positive aspects of the cruise: Nice cabin. We chose an outside cabin on deck 4 in the middle of the ship as it was more stable. Porthole rather than window, but still a comfortable, spacious living space. Very well-designed bathroom with lots of storage space and big shower stall. Helpful, efficient cabin stewards who kept place spotless.
Itinerary was varied - and despite storms on first day out ship was surprisingly smooth. We liked the announcements and were happy that the staff knew what they were doing in all aspects.
Entertainment - Ricky Matthews was Cruise Director and he did a very good job, motivating his staff. Shows were interesting, although we could have done with more "show type" evenings, with dancing girls and singing.
Negative aspects - the Freestyle. We may have been unlucky in the timing, but we have never been on a cruise where the standard of passenger behaviour was so poor. Unfortunately, when there is no dress code some people interpret that as meaning they can make no effort whatsoever in their personal hygiene. Perhaps because it was holiday time, there were simply too many kids who seemed to have carte blanche to wander around doing whatever they wanted, be it in the lifts, jacuzzis, cafes or theatre. We did not like to see people walking around in the lounges in the evening in shorts/grubby teeshirts with beer bottles in their hands, and kids with bare feet in the Garden Cafe. Freestyle is fine as a concept but I think there should be a cutoff time in the evening (say, 8pm) when if people do not want to shower and change after the day they should be segregated into separate areas, rather like smokers are. We experienced many queues for the restaurants, and think that a tweaking of the system would help; perhaps by having blocks of dining, say all at 8pm, all at 9pm etc. We did not use any of the pay-restaurants as we felt the included restaurants were excellent, particularly the Venetian.
We would not use NCL again, unless the itinerary was exceptional - because of the Freestyle.