Let me start with a little bit of background information. This was my fourth cruise and my first cruise on NCL. We were in an oceanview cabin on deck 5. Our cabin was very nice with two twin beds, vanity area, desk area and bathroom. The closet was very large and had a shelf across the top and a pull down shelf that you could use for shoes. Between the closet and the wall was the safe with four nice deep shelves underneath it. On the other side of the closet was three large lower drawers, a good size open area for the ice bucket and glasses with two shelves above it. Then there was a small desk area with the TV above. On the other side of the room was the vanity area that had 3 small shelves up the side of the mirror, a small vanity drawer, and three more large drawers. There was a stool to sit at the vanity and do your make-up, hair or what ever. They supply a hair dryer that to my DD's surprise was very powerful.
Between the beds were two small tables each with a shelf underneath. I would have liked to have had a nightstand instead with a drawer as nothing stayed on the little table due to the amount of rocking we were experiencing. The bathroom was very large. The toilet area had a sliding glass painted door just like the shower had. They were separated by a large countertop and sink that had a moveable faucet somewhat like your kitchen faucet. A large shelf was under the sink which had a wastebasket in it and there were three small shelves up the side of the mirror to put your toiletries on. The shower was exceptional with a height adjustable/handheld shower head which included massage if you like. The temperature of the water is written on the handle in Celsius. I really like the fact that even the shower enclosure was wood grain very high end. Carpet was nice and bright as well. Bed was super comfy as were the linens. Only down side to the stateroom was the window was dirty and at some point had been leaking to the point that the screws and part of the metal trim was rusted. It had been repaired and caulked but the rust was very unattractive. Overall room was excellent.
The ship overall was very nice and easy to navigate. Elevators were slow but all elevators on cruise ships are slow. I did not like the fact that the rear elevators only go to deck 7, which made getting to Tsars' Palace rather complicated and confusing. It does help if you remember that food is basically at the rear of the ship and entertainment is at the front. They have cleverly helped you keep track of the front and rear of the ship on the hall by installing carpeting that is fish and sea weed making all the fish swim forward. I told my daughter when we got on just remember the fish swim forward but didn't explain that I was talking about the carpet. Wednesday she said hey mom look all the fish are swimming to the front of the ship, duh. There is a "Freestyle" deck for that type of sunbathing it is forward deck 15; I never went there just saw the sign.
The garden café had a lot of different stations which was very nice although seating was a problem. Pool deck was very nice with adult only, family and kid only areas. The theater was beautiful and the curtain was cool how the peacock changed color when the lights changed. Was unique how the Spinnaker was all windows in the day and transformed into a club at night. Was a little bit weird walking out of a lounge with the chapel right there. Reception area was sort of blah except for the blue led lights tree not sure if that was just for the holidays or what. There were some rather interesting led icicles in the ceiling that changed colors. It was open to the Blue Lagoon and Tango's. I didn't really care for the interior decorations of the ship overall. Now this was the most disappointing part of the cruise. This is where I found I really dislike "Freestyle". Although it is nice to just go eat when you want to you also lose that part of cruising that makes me feel like a queen. You don't have an assigned waiter naturally so it is basically the luck of the draw. Service in Tsars was a nightmare.
The first night we went there and choose to share a table with others. We were seated right by a service station so it was very noisy. The waiters didn't introduce themselves and offered no suggestion at all. See nothing on the daily menu that interested me I went for the always available cheese tortellini which was good. The waiter was very slow. The entire table was not served at the same time and parts were eating their appetizers when the rest were served the main course. There was not a separate desert menu if you requested they would get you one but they didn't bring a dessert menu without being asked. The second night also in Tsars we were not even asked if we would like to share we were just seated at a two person table. Meeting new people is one of the best parts of cruising. We ordered steak and fries which were served cold. The waiter disappeared and didn't return until we were nearly finished to see if we needed anything. It was then that we were able to get ketchup only to find out that the fries were cold. Our drinks were not filled and we had to tell the waiter each evening that we wanted tea with splenda and no lemon. The waiters seemed to get irritated when we asked for Splenda because it was not already on the table and they had to get it. Not sure why as it was in huge bowls in the garden café. The food in the garden café was always cold except for the carved meats and the cooked to order items such as omelets and pasta station. Azure was the best restaurant we ate there 3 nights. We had one waiter there, Renaldo, who was worth his weight in gold. He offered suggestion as to what was the best thing on the menu and never let your drink run low. That is what a cruise waiter is supposed to be. The rest of the waiters appeared to be new or from a fast food restaurant not friendly at all.
One night ate at Blue Lagoon it is good for a fast food type meal. Didn't try any of the pay restaurants as I believe that your meals should be included in your cruise fare and you should not have to pay extra to get good service or good food. Did not feel that food was readily available all the time as when the Garden Café closed your choice was blue Lagoon and that is a sit down restaurant. There should be some kind of place where you can self serve pizza, cookies, ice cream, finger sandwiches etc all the time. There was a great CD Que. He is from South Africa. He was very personable as was all his staff. Dan, Dan the party man was pretty cool also. They had great games the not so newlywed game, dancing with the jewel stars, Liar's Club, Majority Rules, Quest, Greatest Couple or something like that.
Of course they had BINGO which is basically something to lose some money at other than the casino. Had some pool games but I didn't go. They had a pub crawl not sure what the cost was as I didn't participate. They had karaoke, Wii, and dancing. One late night event not to be missed is the White Hot Party, it was great. On sea days their ballroom dance couple taught the cha-cha and one other dance. They did seem to have a lot of "classes" that you had to pay for I didn't do these either. Basically they had the same activities as most lines do just different names. As stated earlier dining service was horrible. Our room steward Michael and his asst Asid were great. By the first evening he knew my name and addressed me anytime he saw me. Asked that the window be cleaned in room and it was done promptly. Brought a second Freestyle Daily even though he had already been there came back to make sure I found it. Put my DD's new pajamas in the bed at turn down exactly as I had instructed him to. Delivered the laundry promptly and even took a piece back to ask about a special request even though it couldn't be done. Michael is an outstanding room steward. He always made unique towel animals that I had never seen in the past. Entertainment gets the best grade possible.
Bar hops were just so-so at best. Always there until you needed one then they all vanished. This was the best part of the cruise. The Jean Ann Ryan production numbers were great especially le Cirque Bijou this is a show not to be missed get there early. There was a comedian he was just so-so, a ventriloquist Ken Groves he and his two puppets were fantastic at all 3 of his shows and last but definitely least was a quartet group called The Cat's Pajamas they were fantastic. Altogether the Cat's did 4 shows on our cruise because they did an extra set the day we missed Great Stirrup Cay.
First port was Roatan which was a great day we did an island tour with TransTours. It was great we went to several scenic viewing areas, a children's home, had authentic food, went to see the monkeys and still had time for the beach. You can't go wrong with TransTours. Second port was Belize which is a tender port and if you don't have you excursion with NCL you have to get a ticket to get off the boat. This was a little strange to me I feel that it should be first to the gangway first off. That is a little discriminatory to me. I have just as much right to leave as their tenders do. Did a snorkel, beach, manatee tour with Coral Breezes. The excursion started off good but then a storm rolled in so we snorkeled in the rain with really bad currents and very choppy water. Then when we got to the beach/island it was pouring down rain everyone was sitting under the roof wrapped in wet towels freezing for what purpose I don't know but we had to wait until time that we were supposed to leave. Then we voted to skip the manatees so we could get back to the ship to get dry and warm. This excursion should have been cancelled when it started to rain. Not impressed with Coral Breezes.
Third port Costa Maya, three ships in port which is a dock port. The pool there was nice other than that there is nothing there but shopping unless you pay for some kind of excursion. We thought it would be like Cozumel and we could just catch a cab into downtown, NOT. If you are not into shopping plan to stay on the ship or book and excursion. The last port was supposed to have been Great Stirrup Cay but being a tender port which was cancelled due to the safety issue. We actually had waves from 4 to 7 ˝ feet according to the ships log on TV. I am glad they didn't try to tender. Que the CD did a great job of creating activities to fill the time. Most of which had to be inside due to the cold, windy, rainy weather.
Getting off was pretty painless. The night before you choose what time you want to leave. Place the appropriate color tag on your luggage. Place your luggage outside your door prior to midnight. Get up have breakfast and pretty much the time you chose they will call that you can disembark. They also have a feature where you can tote your own luggage and leave before everybody else. I was not impressed with anything except the entertainment.
To be exact I was rather dissatisfied with everything else. I believe that they are all about selling something be it a special dining area, bingo, martini classes, pub crawl, next cruise, over priced poor photos, art or whatever. I don't like feeling like everything is for a fee. I do like cruising though and will cruise again just not with NCL.